You probably haven’t noticed this, but I seem to be getting less tolerant with age. Sort of like the mellowing of fine wine, but in the other direction.
There was a time when I thought I could probably tolerate most behavior I didn’t agree with. (Consider the culture of my generation, however, and remember that in my youth, disagrreeable behavior meant, like, people yelling at people.) But now the behavior I don’t agree with seems to have grown by leaps and bounds, way beyond yelling at each other, and more like shooting at each other.
You’d be amazed how hard that is for someone like me to tolerate. There are times when I can hardly tolerate myself not tolerating things that are basically tolerable — that is, they don’t necessarily mean the world is coming to an end.
Though sometimes I think it might be. That’s when I find myself, oh, so terribly tempted to do things like — well, yell at people.
I used to be more forgiving. About tattoos, for instance. You may remember past words here that were mildly scolding, taking full blame for my own short-sightedness, admitting that although I personally couldn’t see the appeal, I was sure there was some need in the younger, and increasingly older, generation that is now covering itself with the most repellant designs, the deep meaning of which escapes me.
That was then. Now I just hate tattoos. Not the little ones so much, but I’m talking the huge body-blocking signboards that reach every available inch of space, including the neck, and in some cases, the face itself. The ones that look like you desperately need a bath. People have got to hate themselves to try so hard, and at so much pain, to hide themselves from public view.
Oh, and remember how I used to hate bullfights? They were one of the few things I used to allow myself to actually use the word “hate” for, since my mother, you remember, instructed me that you never hate people, you just get to hate things. Well, bullfights won that word from the start, but now I am getting beyond hate for bullfights.
A little while ago I read that the latest in bullfighting is to attach something flammable between the horns of the bull and then light it up at some given moment. It is impossible for me to express how much beyond hating I am for this “sport” and, oops, for the people who think it is all-great -fun-let’s-do-it-again.
Much wickedness happens in the name of sport. Although, can you believe that with all its violence and danger, I still like a good football game, when I have a favorite in the contest? I can hardly accept that myself. I suuggest that the rules be changed though, so that when a brain-scrambling collision appears to be imminent, the tackler should shoot off a marshmallow gun into the face mask of the ball carrier. Three marshmallows caught in the facemask equals a tackle.
I believe in the Arab Spring, but I hate the mindless gunfire that seems to go off there at all hours of the day and night — you see it on TV all the time - just nice young guys at their favorite sport, ratchetting away with the old machine gun at whatever goes by. It’s just one more thing for which my tolerance is non-existent.
And, here’s another — high old times at college. It costs a fortune to send kids there these days. If I were a parent and even suspected they were spending any of their time partying and drinking themselves into oblivion or worse - they wouldn’t be in college past last Thursday.
I’m beginning to lose my tolerance for all the charity appeals that come in the mail every day, too. I get five or ten every day and I’ve lost my patience with the whole system. Do you remember when you made a contribution to your favored cause ONCE A YEAR , and that was that until the next year?(Yes, I know, that was a long time ago, but then I’m from a long time ago, so there.) Now, I sometimes get two or three mailings begging for money within a week or two from the same charity. It must cost something to send all that junk, and that’s really not what I contributed to the cause for in the first place.
It must work, because now I do contribute to the same cause more than once a year. Still, I find all that junk mail — intolerable! And that’s not even counting the junk phone calls!
Yes, these are good times for being intolerant. I can find six things to be intolerant of every day before breakfast, just by reading the newspaper. And another half-dozen watching TV. I get disgusted with myself, sometimes for being narrow-minded, but then I get this feeling, in the middle of the night, that if I stop being intolerant, I will get super-tolerant. I will accept everything, and stop writing these columns of protest, and simply sit back with a smile, no matter what happens.
And, let’s face it, folks, what that will mean is that I just don’t give a (hang) anymore.
Maybe next year.
Maude McDaniel is a Cumberland freelance writer. Her column appears on alternate Sundays in the Times-News.