16 November 2011: Ruminations on Andy Rooney

Ruminations on Andy Rooney

I’m going to miss Andy Rooney. Not that I watched him without fail or hung onto every word he uttered while poking fun at life’s absurdities and us for taking ourselves too seriously. No, it will be because he got to do what he loved doing—writing and commenting—and didn’t much care what we thought. Like me doing this.

Andy was a living institution, an everyman philosopher, a symbol of and model for…yada yada.

Ouch! He would’ve hated that.

I loved how he called those who wanted autographs “idiots” and refused to sign them—I don’t need to worry about that—and got irritated with people who interrupted his dinner. I don’t need to worry about that either.

I had blind faith in Andy’s skepticism until reminded of his rant about gays and suspension for it 20 years ago, which flew in the face of an otherwise non-bigoted persona. But like nearly everyone else—those who double-down on their sinfulness by proudly proclaiming theirs excluded—he sported a few warts.

Besides, who wants perfect skin? I endured a fairly bad case of acne as a teen, which not only made it challenging when I started shaving but also compounded the usual dose of teenage angst. Consequently, I came to dislike perfect-skin people. Perhaps that helps explain my liberalism and compassion for and preference to be with the less-than-perfect.

I wish those who feel compelled to wear their sins along with their righteousness on their sleeves would have the good grace to slip on a jacket or sweater. Like perfect skin, it’s quite embarrassing—worse than acne.

We earthlings have survived another potential species-extinction event, the latest curve ball from God, albeit smaller than the one that brought about the unfortunate dinosaurs’ demise.

OK, had the asteroid that shot between Earth and the moon on November 8 slammed onto Earth, it might not have wreaked that same level of devastation, but it would’ve, nonetheless, caused considerable death and destruction, which in turn would’ve caused millions to pray to the same power that caused it or at least failed to act to prevent it. I suppose that makes sense to some.

On one blog, hundreds chimed in.

My favorite was a response to this question: “Does anyone know the date that would be best for viewing? I know the time, but I couldn’t find the date anywhere in the story.”

To which another exasperated—must’ve been a teacher—blogger wrote, “Did you even bother to read the article? It says November 8th in the second sentence. Someone’s hooked on phonics, aren’t they?”

There seems to be a lot of that going on since the rise of the rightwing echo-chamber, Fox and talk radio, which makes me wonder about those who condemn public schools but are themselves products of public education. It says something about them, eh? I love slipping in an occsional Canadian colloquialism. They are a wonderful people.

Of course, we private and parochial school graduates do have the advantage of looking down our noses at our public-schooled peers, but having had committed my life to public education, that hardly seems nice or fair.

I admit to being skeptical about anything Republican, conservative, or dogmatically religious, having once upon a time dwelteth—need the biblical form—in that land. At times I simply say, “Been there; done that,” but that dismisses too lightly something that calls for a fuller, deeper explanation.

Flippancy can be the skeptic’s bane such as disillusionment, as I noted last week, can be the optimist’s. Cynics have it nice by having no bane, being content to wallow in their peevishness muck.

Now there are those who will—and do—call me cynical or mean-spirited or worse: an effete, pointy-headed liberal elitist who hates America and is condescending to those who’ve gotten it right and stay on the right. To whom I say, “So it goes,” a line from Kurt Vonnegut, another deceased literary hero. He repeats it throughout Slaughterhouse-Five whenever somone dies or is killed, which is often.

I could say “I’ll pray for Andy Rooney’s soul” or “RIP” or pen some noble tribute.

But I don’t think he’d like that. And I want to respect his wish not to be disturbed while eating dinner, even at a timeless cosmic restaurant.

So, I’ll just say this: “Andy Ronney died at age 92. So it goes.”

I think he’d like that.


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