Cumberland Times-News

April 6, 2013

So many things she doesn’t understand

Maude McDaniel, Columnist
Cumberland Times-News

— At my age, I hate to admit it — but there is so much in this world that I — still — don’t understand.

People who don’t care about Monarch butterflies, for instance.

How could anyone NOT care about Monarch butterflies? Theirs is one of the most fascinating stories that exists in our natural world: the ages-old history of these fragile little creatures’ yearly migration to Mexico, where they blanket the trees in a certain area for several months away from the northern winter. When it gets warm enough up here for them (or their offspring) they fly back and continue their lives in the north, producing enough new butterflies to carry on the story for yet another year. And another. And another.

Although, one of these times, there may not be another. This makes me sick at heart. I remember when I first learned about this astonishing migration. Once about 30 years ago, I was out in Bel Air — visiting some relatives who lived there. They weren’t home yet — the door was locked. So I slumped in the car to take a nap.( my response to emergencies is instant) and suddenly realized that the chimney of their house was within view — and there was a lot of activity going on up there. Every few seconds or so, a butterfly flew past it, heading south. And another, and another., and yet more. I had never even heard of Monarch butterfly migration, and here I was witnessing it in full flight. I had no idea what I was looking at — but it was fascinating all the same. (I looked it up, and wrote a column about it later.)

My relatives have moved and I am afraid if I camped out and watched somebody’s chimney for several hours in the fall, the neighbors might get concerned. But I have this sinking feeling that butterflies are no longer flitting past there every few seconds, at any time of the year — because, I am told the butterfly migration has shrunk by half, The number of butterfly trees in Mexico has dropped off visibly, and the migrations are way down.

Obviously, monarch butterflies are losing habitat and may soon be in danger of extinction.

And I don’t understand why people are not upset about this.

Also, I don’t understand why robins are always bigger in real life than I think they are.

I don’t understand the humor nowadays. Back in the comedy of early television, the laughs came from slyly bringing out the human comedy in everyday situations — now the situations are everyday, all right, but the humor is ill-natured, mocking, or trashy — as if it is funny to put into words the worst parts of human nature. I’ll put up Johnny Carson, Bill Cosby, Dick Van Dyke, the Carol Burnett shows (except for those awful family fight episodes, which perfectly illustrate my point against How I Met Your Mother, or any other modern sitcoms).

I don’t understand designer handbags. Three hundred, six hundred, a thousand dollars for a pocketbook that looks like an army issue backpack. Or even if they were ever attractive (I haven’t seen one yet ), why would you consider paying the money? I’ve seen bags in Walmart that made a better impression — and leave your bank account looking better too. Also, I don’t approve of letting people think they can get away with murder, just because they make a lot of money.

I don’t understand or approve of what weddings are turning into these days — huge money pits and show pieces. (Obviously, I have been watching “Four Weddings lately — but not much longer, honest!) Gowns that cost thousands of dollars, cocktail hours that by themselves are grander than whole wedding receptions back in the day, and which themselves are then followed by — Guess what? — wedding receptions for hundreds, with the bride in her second (or third) gown of the day. Oh, yes, followed a year later by a quickie divorce. “Themes” for the wedding, like hockey, or Christmas, or vampires. (Well, I haven’t seen a vampire wedding yet, but any day now). Oh, yes, and a new wrinkle, buying more than one wedding dress so that you can change after the ceremony (to show how irrelevant all those things you promised each other are to real life, perhaps?) and wear another (or two) strikingly priced gown for the rest of the day.

I don’t understand guydom. By which I think I mean, testosterone. Not that I oppose it — certainly I approved of it in my husband! But guys who bump fists, and heads, and chests and guys who have to have a “man cave” to keep the women out of their lives, and men who would rather fight than shake hands, that’s what I mean. We would miss testosterone if it didn’t exist, I am sure — but as things are, testosterone has taken over. Until even the women want to be like the men, and go into combat, or play football or swear like a trooper. (A male trooper.) . But you rarely hear of a man who likes to knit, or cook (except as head chef, which is different) or conciliate.

Unless he is past 60. It’s amazing how wise men become after a certain age — more like women all the time.

And I mean that as a compliment!

Love ya, guys!

Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears in the Times-News on alternate Sundays.