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Despite my best efforts to the contrary, the world has continued to spin on its axis since the last time I helmed our What Now newsletter, way back in the halcyon days of this past September. A lot has changed since then; Delta gave way to Omicron; everyone started pondering orbs; I saw DUNE.
Both inspired by the passage of — and pressed for — time, I decided to once again check in in with the most engaged, up-to-date, plugged-in people I know: my grade school-aged sons, “G” (three years old) and “H” (six years old). The world is a big, confusing place for An Old like me, so who better to explain the zeitgeist than two small children who regularly need to be reminded to flush the toilet. Is that a metaphor for something? Who can say? In any case, what follows is a conversation with the two loudest members of my household, which has been lightly edited for space and content.
G: What do I say?
Discourse Blog: You can say anything you want, how do you want to start?
G: Testing, testing, testing, testing, testing…
DB: Good Start.
G: …Testing testing testing.
DB: Do you remember the last time we talked?
DB: Do you remember what we talked about?
DB: What did we talk about?
G: I don’t remember.
DB: Why did you say you did?
DB: Now, last time we talked, we discussed the coronavirus. Are you worried about the Omicron variant?
G: What’s that?
DB: The new version of the coronavirus.
G: Ohhh. I didn’t know about that?
DB: Yeah. Do you think it’s going to be better or worse than the Delta variant?
G: [immediately] Worse!
DB: I see. Now, what do you think about recently deceased statesman Bob Dole? What do you think his legacy will be?
G: Hmmm…. I don’t know?
DB: Do you know who Bob Dole is?
DB: No, I’m asking you.
[G leaves the room, and returns shortly with a chocolate chip muffin]
DB: What are you holding?
G: [muffled] I don’t want to tell you…
DB: Okay, well what do you think of Joe Biden’s domestic agenda now that he’s passed the “Build Back Better” plan in the House?
G: I don’t know.
DB: Do you like Joe Biden?
DB: Do you think it’s disappointing that he’s turned his back on many of the progressive items he ran on?
G: [shrugs harder]
DB: What do you think about the January 6th Commission?
G: [starting to cry] I don’t know!
DB: What do you think about Rep. Lauren Boebert’s ongoing islamophobic threats against Minneapolis Congresswoman Ilhan Omar?
DB: Do you like Minneapolis?
G: What’s in that place?
DB: Well, that’s where we are.
G: Oh, I like to run.
DB: I see. I see also that you’re playing with one of your new Hanukkah toys while we talk. Can you tell our readers what you’re playing with?
DB: Ah, but what sort of dinosaur?
DB: Interesting. Let’s return to COVID for a second. Do you think your school is doing enough to protect you and your classmates from the coronavirus?
G: Hm…we wear masks?
DB: What do you say to people who claim that wearing a mask at school is some sort of torture for students?
G: [unintelligible due to muffin]
DB: Ah. Let’s switch gears a bit; What new shows have you been watching lately?
G: Germ shows?
DB: No, I don’t think that’s right. What about shows that aren’t about germs? What shows on the TV? I notice you’ve been watching a lot of Captain Garbage [Netflix’s newly released Dogs in Space series]
G: Too scary!
DB: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that. Let’s move on to something a little more relevant to you right now, as you eat that muffin: What do you think about the spate of restaurant closures over the past two years, due to the pandemic?
DB: …Flip? Flip what?
DB: Are you saying you’d open a pancake restaurant?
[At this point G’s older brother H, sensing that he’s not the current center of attention in the house, barges into the room and demands — as he did last time — to be interviewed too.]
DB: H, do you remember what you did the last time we spoke?
DB: Well, the last time we talked you spent quite a bit of time slapping your tush.
[H immediately begins swatting himself on the butt. G joins in]
G+H: Slapping our tush! Slapping our tush!
DB: Do you think it’s appropriate for an interview subject to slap their butt in the middle of a conversation?
H: No it was not appropriate, but I did it anyway.
DB: Okay. Now let me ask you, do you think your school is doing enough to protect its students from COVID?
H: Well, first of all we have to switch masks one time a day, and we have to wear masks no matter what unless we’re eating at snack, and we have two snacks, and they’re giving us food because the pandemic is getting better.
DB: Interesting. Do you have any thoughts on Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda now that it’s passed the House?
H: What is that?
DB: Okay, what do you think about the supply chain issues? Has it affected you personally?
H: What’s that?
DB: That’s when stores don’t have enough things for people to buy?
H: Oh. No, it is not affecting me.
DB: I see. If it did affect you, where do you suppose it would affect you most?
H: Well, I think it would affect me with all the vegetables. I don’t like them but I still need to eat them. I DO eat them.
DB: That sounds right. And what about all your new toys for Hanukkah, do you think you and your friends perhaps have too many toys, and struggle to make your own fun without expensive accessories?
DB: Do you worry about your generation spending too much time online in forums that could lead to radicalization?
H: Yes. I’d let them only be online to play “Math Prodigy,” unless they’re sick. Then they can do other things. And I’m slappin’ my tuuuuush!
DB: Oh, we’re doing this again? G, do you think your brother is a good role model?
G: I’m slappin’ my tush! I’m slappin’ my tush!
DB: I see. Thank you both for your time.