Today’s Daily Prompt challenges bloggers to go over to a favorite blog and pick out the fourth and fourteenth words to complete the phrase “___ is the new ___.”
I knew right away that I would cast my lot with A Clown on Fire and hope that one of the two critical words wasn’t an embarrassing swear. (I still love you, Eric, even though you have an insufferable potty mouth.)
Well, didn’t I just draw the booby prize? Apparently, “or” is the new “I.”
I could have laughed at the ridiculousness of this, proceeding to another blog post haste. But that would be cheating, and what kind of example is that to set for my fellow bloggers?
My predicament is reminiscent of a story my father likes to tell of his elementary school days in New York City during World War II. All the men were off fighting in the European and Pacific theaters and every teacher was of the female persuasion. Most of them were “old biddies,” as Dad tells it, doddering meanies who, in better times, would have long since retired.
These were teachers who, turning red in the face when a student misbehaved, would shake the hapless kid by the shoulders and yell at the top of her lungs: “What sort of family do you come from? What sort of parents do you have? Were you raised in a barn??!!”
Now, my father reports that he enjoyed playing pranks and showing off his sassy mouth just a bit too much for the teachers’ refined tastes. For example, when sternly told “Take your seat!,” he would lift the chair off the floor and, with an innocent expression, ask “where should I take it to?” As you may imagine, his ability to engender mirth and merriment made him rather popular with his classmates.
Of course, there were consequences. Among the worst of the punishments he experienced was being required to stay after school to write an essay on “the whichness of what.”
I have often wondered how I would attack such a task. As “whichness” is itself a nonce word, I suppose it could be assigned any meaning desired, à la Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear. Perhaps influenced by the approach of Halloween, I rather think I would misspell the word as “witchness” and write a good old fashioned ghost story.
But I digress. More important subjects beg our attention. After all, or is the new I, you know.
“Or” is the epitome of choice, and choice is what we all want, isn’t it? Not according to the current Ford Focus commercial, “And is Better.” And here I was thinking that we resent having things forced on us, that we want to be the ones who get to choose. Apparently, I am wrong. We don’t want choice — we want it all! To hell with “or;” we want “and!”
But what of the “I,” the ego, the self? If, contrary to Ford’s assertion, or (not and) is the new I, then we have allowed the overwhelmingly desire for choice to completely take over our identity. Instead of seeing ourselves as a teeming mass of family background, education, hopes, dreams and loves, we have given it all up for the privilege of choice. Tell me not who you really are, instead tell me what your choices were and which you selected.
Personally, I’ve always seen myself as something of a rebel, at least when it comes to choices. Forget Choices A, B, C or D. Just mark me down as “none of the above.”