Think about life’s major steps for a moment — college, graduate school, job interviews, credit cards, buying a house, sex change — all of these things involve some sort of application process that ensures the legitimacy of the candidates. To get into college, we had to score well on the SAT’s, just as to get a credit card one must fill out forms that prove the applicant has a responsible economic history.
But perhaps the most important aspect of life — parenthood – lacks any sort of process that ensures the capability of the parents. Now I’m not proposing we institute a testing system to aspiring parents, that seems like something our of an ill-conceived, Planned Parenthood-sponsored Kurt Vonnuget novel, but it just seems to me that some people should not be breeding. And it’s not because they’re not intelligent enough or don’t have enough money, its just because they’re simply not mature or magnanimous enough to accept the incredibly difficult and responsible task of raising children.
Being a waiter at an resort in the Adirondack Mountains this past summer afforded me the unique opportunity to observe and interact with a large slice of middle-America and see just how bad some parents actually are, from middle-aged parents in their forties to young newlyweds in their mid-twenties.
Among these young newlyweds was the head waitress, my “boss”, a 27-year-old ex-stripper and coke fiend who looked like the unfortunate progeny of Ronald McDonald and a Walrus. I image that when she gives birth, she’ll clean the baby’s placenta off with her might ivory tusks then breast feed it mineral Happy Meal, thus beginning the evolutionary trek of a new breed of stimulant-dependent, aquatic clown mammals.
I always had thought there was something a little off about her. Her disposition would vacillate between Edgar Allen Poe at a morgue and Jar-Jar Binks on ecstasy; one minute she’d be gushing about her recent marriage, the next her eyes would be glazed over in a vacant, suicidal depression. But when she was caught snorting coke off of a toilet seat in between shifts, that’s when I realized she was about as stable as a radioactive isotope. And this woman is an expected mother. Some would attribute this behavioral temerity to the “flippancy of youth”, but for the love of God, she’s 27 years old, and that age, it’s just unabashed idiocy. This woman should not be reproducing.
Then there were the guests at the resort. I don’t know what it was about this place, it might have had some latent Dirty Dancing appeal or something, but it managed to attract every crass, nouveau-riche middle class family from New Jersey who somehow fell ass-backwards into wealth by selling oddities like the fake palm trees you see in Shopping Malls or plastic mini-golf clubs.
These people set new lows in parenting skills, and it wasn’t limited to one age range either, like the “terrible twos” or anything — they exhibited no control regardless of the child’s age. They didn’t even have control over their babies, who refused to eat anything and were so messy that they looked like they got shot in the face with a food gun.
This, of course, made my job as a waiter virtually impossible, for as their profligate older children tried to light me on fire and beat me with their tiny, ignorant fists, the parents, totally ignoring their kids, would demand more booze and drunkenly sling raucous New Jersey colloquialisms back and forth at each other, a battle of low-brow wits that always ended in a screeching, discordant eruption of laughter that sounded like the combination of a fat man vomiting and Mariah Carey stuck in a bear trap.
I think if the unfortunate circumstance ever arose where the whole state of New Jersey laughed at the same time, a black hole would open somewhere around a strip mall in Hoboken and we’d all be sucked in and die, all because people from New Jersey have hyperactive larynxes and no auditory perception.
I liken the whole situation to chimpanzees in a zoo. Say there’s a male chimpanzee, we’ll call him “Bongo”, and Bongo suffers from severe mental retardation; he inexplicably attacks the other chimps, exhibits poor decision making abilities, throws his poop, etc. Now when it comes time to mate, and Bongo starts maniacally chasing the females, naturally the zoologists shock him with electric prods in an effort to prevent his copulation efforts; to perpetuate Bongo’s genes would be too risky an endeavor for not only the health of the baby chimps he would create, but to the chimp community as a whole.
This is our problem as humans. We have no system of checking the copulation patterns of the masses. So when Vinny, the 40 year old used car salesman/drug dealer decides to impregnate a local high school cheerleader, there are no zoologists waiting outside of the High School with electric prods to chase Vinny and his inimical Y-chromosome back to the used car dealership.
Naturally, we live in a society where we can’t chase pedophiles with prods, (at least not electric ones) but we do live in an extremely volatile, dangerous world where it is easy for the nation’s youth to go awry. As impressionable children get inundated with video games, unrealistic violence in movies and drug use, it would be nice to have some sort of responsible, nurturing guardian to redress their misconceptions and apprehensions about life, and unfortunately, a vast majority of people are exactly like Bongo, but with drivers licenses and bank accounts.
John Phillips is a senior in Timothy Dwight College.