November 2005
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Rants of a young(ish) codger

By Katharhynn Heidelberg

Call me a codger. A curmudgeon, even, but the older I grow, the more bothered — at times, puzzled — I become at things heard and seen. I have to admit there are things I can’t control, still, I can’t help but fantasize: What if I could control some things — the little things that get under my skin?

If it were up to me. . .

• Cats would receive equal time in the mainstream media. I have no hard and fast statistics, but it does seem television and movies feature dogs more often than cats. Even when you do see a cat on screen, it’s usually either paired with a dog, or even more often, cast in a negative light. I make no argument as to which animal is the “better” pet, because each has its advantages and disadvantages. (While Kitty is unlikely to protect you from a burglar, she’s also unlikely to retrieve certain items from your bathroom trash and scatter their remnants about the living room just as your boyfriend drops by.

Rover, on the other hand, doesn’t purr or bury his waste, but he doesn’t corner a bat in your bedroom at 4 a.m., either.)

There’s the kids’ movie “Cats and Dogs,” which reinforces the idea that dogs are noble, loving creatures, while cats are evil and conniving. OK, so my cat would take over the world if only she had opposable thumbs, but I’m sure she would be a benevolent overlord. And, in what’s doubtless a sign of crankiness, many cartoons featuring cats get on my nerves. Frankly, I’d like to see Tom eat Jerry. Just once. Ditto for Sylvester and Tweety.

But the most irritating trend by far is the way media mythologize people who prefer cats: they are either old maids or old-maid lunatics (because there’s something “wrong” with women who choose to be alone).

There’s even a “Law and Order” episode in which the serial rapist picks his victims by whether they have a cat — if they do, it means they must live alone, and so, are safe targets. There’s no suggestion in the media, meanwhile, that single people with dogs are in any way socially deficient or endangered. Dogs are cool. Cats are for losers.

But if it were up to me. . .

• The stupidity of having even cash paying customers “pre-pay” for gas would become obvious to the corporate bigwigs who set fuel-store policies. How should I know how much the gas will cost before I top the tank? If I were any good at predicting numbers, I’d have long since won Powerball. Yeah, I know I could estimate how many gallons were needed and multiply by the pump price, but that’s annoying as well as imprecise, and I don’t much like being punished for other people’s dishonesty.

• People would stop saying “first annual” and “revert back to.”

• Song remakes would actually improve the song. I don’t know who was doing what to Seal’s “Crazy” the other day, but she should’ve stopped. I also heard a version of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” recently that was so awful I wanted to shoot the radio. C’mon, people. It’s not as if it requires much effort to make ’80s and ’90s pop music better.

• Advertisers wouldn’t use living creatures as irrelevant props in television commercials. I remember a furniture store that had tiger cubs (cats!) crawling all over everything. It made me wonder how many customers checked their sofas for tiger poop.

• There would be an actual law against advertisers using their sweet l’il (and frequently inarticulate) children as product shills. Save Junior’s acting debut for the family-reunion video and spare the rest of us. He’ll thank you for it later.

• Parents who want to see a movie would pick a family-appropriate film or find a babysitter. It’s not fair to the kids to take them to something they won’t enjoy, and it certainly isn’t fair to subject the entire theater to the behavior they display to let you know they aren’t enjoying it.

• Those polite, on-screen announcements that say: “Please no talking during the movie,” would take a more direct approach. To wit: “YO! SHUT UP! AND TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. WE’RE NOT KIDDING. THE SEATS ARE WIRED WITH ELECTRODES AND IT WILL FILL US WITH SADISTIC GLEE TO PUSH THE BUTTON!”

Honestly, what are people thinking when they come to the movie and leave their ringers turned on? If the call is so important, they’ll either have to leave the theater when it comes or yak away like a jackass, thereby wasting my money and running the distinct risk of having to retrieve the phone from an orifice not designed to hold it. I’m also puzzled by people who play games on their phones — if the movie’s not as entertaining as a teenyweeny video game, why did they even come?

• They would invent a throat spray that temporarily paralyzes the vocal cords of teenagers who come to the movies in packs, and then, true to form, behave like hyenas.

• People would show respect to theater employees by picking up their own trash and keeping their feet off the seat backs without being told. People who don’t behave in a suitably civilized fashion — for instance, grown men who sneer at the employee, “I’ll just give you the five bucks you make in an hour” — would be forced to work one week on the other side of the counter. For free.

• Finally, I would really be able to accept the things I cannot change. Ah, yes. If it were up to me.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is a journalist in Montrose.

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