Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief

Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief

Remember when your Aunt Esmeralda used to come over for a visit to your parents' house and ask, "So, little one, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

For good measure, she might have added that age-old nursery rhyme — "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief, Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief." At times, she might even have thrown in the possibility of "Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker" from that other nursery rhyme, "Three Men In A Tub."

Geez, the options ... almost too much to absorb.

If memory serves, however, most boys skipped over the list of default occupations and chose to be a Fireman. Why? Oh, it was the firetrucks and the sirens. Those two little fixations garnered big importance in the mind of a five-year-old.

Some retro-boys would also skip the defaults and choose Cowboy. Why? The horse of course, and the six guns strapped in a holster around your hips.

Then, there were boys whose fathers were doctors or lawyers. Those kids always said what they figured their fathers expected and chose doctor or lawyer. Hey, it beat a thrashing later that night.

No one ever chose Indian Chief.

Most young boys perceived Indian Chiefs as savages, who spent their lives in quasi-KOA campgrounds, littered with KFC chicken bones between the teepees. Fun for a couple of vacation weeks, perhaps, but certainly not a lifetime goal.

For girls, there were almost no options available. In the days of black and white television, girls were expected to be housewives and mothers, in that order. On the off chance that a girl might have to work for a few years before she could "catch" a husband, she was allowed to accept nursing or teaching school. The prime directive, however, was to retire from the labour force as soon as she had a man to take care of her.

Well, things have obviously changed — not for boys, but certainly for girls.

When I ask my grandson what he wants to be when he grows up, he will quickly reply, "Fireman." Same old, same old.

When I ask my granddaughter what she wants to be when she grows up, she'll be just as quick to reply, "Orthopedic Surgeon."

Orthopedic Surgeon? Hey, wait a minute! What about a housewife and a mommy?

The response is crystal clear. "Oh, nooooo, Papa ... I'm not picking up after a slob like Daddy and chasing a bunch of brats around the grocery store."

Yes, times have changed. Little girls have figured out that they can "keep" themselves quite nicely, without the piddling income of a husband. Maybe, sometime after their second "Benz," they might consider marriage, but definitely not without an air-tight pre-nup.

I'm not sure whether I should be impressed with such a dramatic change or if I should feel a sort of melancholy regret that things have come to this.

I suppose that I should simply be grateful that none of my grandchildren have suggested that he or she wants to be gay or a transgendered celebrity, like Bruce (aka Caitlyn) Jenner or Chastity (aka Chaz) Bono. But who knows? That day may come.

If such an occasion does arise, I may have to defer to the default choices by insisting, "Oh nooo ... it's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor, Rich Man, Poor Man, Beggar Man, Thief, Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief. Those are the options — no substitutions."

Of course, the smartest of the grandchildren will tell me, "There are enough transgendered Tinkers, Tailors, Soldiers, Sailors, Rich Men, Poor Men, Beggar Men, Thieves, Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs these days to fill the state of Montana."

And that smartest grandchild will add, "You see, Papa, anyone can be gay or transgendered and still have a good job."

To which, I will be forced to reply, "Yes, that is true, but I think in Montana there are only cowboys, rugged men and women who are perfectly normal."

Hopefully, that will last them until they're old enough to watch that deviant film, Brokeback Mountain. Oh well, by that time, I'll be treading the waters of Alzheimer's in a nursing home.

Hopefully, my grandchildren will still remember their grandfather and come to visit me there. By then, they can be gay or straight, or somewhere in between, and I simply won't give a shit. I'll be too busy adjusting the feathers of my Apache war bonnet.




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