Saturday, May 28, 2011

Embracing your Inner Homer

Defying commonsense and logic but in some surreal twist of reality I have read more than a few articles praising none other than Homer Simpson of televisions “The Simpsons” proclaiming him the most unlikely of American heroes and inspirational figures. I have discounted that opinion for a long time but I will be damned but a couple of recent events drove that judgment home for me.

I am not talking sainthood here, if that was the case the long-suffering and wise Marge Simpson would win that title easily. In general, Homer was supposed to be a comedic takeoff on the god-like fathers of 1950’s sitcoms such as Ward Cleaver of “Leave it to Beaver” and Jim Anderson of “Father Knows Best” but instead Homer has somehow emerged as a sort of everyman doing his best to keep some semblance of sanity in a complex age.

When the Simpsons first aired on television, I was in my twenties and Homer was a huge joke to my army buddies and me as we sat in the barracks dayroom watching Bart run circles around his poor father. Add to that his borderline incompetence at work, his sloppy and inconsiderate ways at home, and skewed and limited perception of the world in general and you have what amounts to a pretty sorry human being.

Homer’s elevation to iconic figure in large part comes from the fact that the perceived world of the omnipotent American father has not only ended but has been irradiated, eviscerated,and burned away to nothingness. To Homer, and others like him in real life, the world is outside their scope of understanding so everything is best boiled down to simple things like doughnuts and beer. While Homer’s cartoon personality is a huge stereotype of blue-collar guys, most sitcom fathers are now befuddled buffoons dependent on super intelligent kids or all-powerful wives to save their butts from some calamity they created in the first place. A far cry from the pipe smoking sitcom dad of the 1950’s for whom wisdom flowed out of like an endless river.

Of course, the degree to which the American male has actually devolved into “Homo homerthal” varies with each individual and is not strictly limited to the problems Homer Simpson battles in each thirty-minute episode. Some hate their jobs but regularly pray it is not outsourced overseas. Others have to deal with the wide array of idiots and morons in the world with more than a few having some sort of position authority over them. For me it was my recent discovery that my darling children very often ignore my wisdom (that is sarcasm folks) or scheme on a comparable level to the infamous Bart Simpson.

My first realization of my inner Homer came from my son, Darth Spoilboy, a couple of days ago. My son received his driver’s license the last part of April and since then I have been nothing but impressed with his skills on the road. The only bad thing is that his social life is extremely active with numerous buddies and a steady girlfriend, so it is not uncommon for me to find him and my car long gone when I would like to go someplace. Now I have no real problem with this, I am glad he is a happy and well-adjusted kid with plenty of friends. It is just that Spoilboy is not as knowledgeable as he thinks concerning the operation of a basic 2009 Toyota, Corolla.

Several times, he has returned home with me having to immediately take the car back out to run some errands. After receiving final instructions from my wife concerning whatever she is sending me out to buy at the grocery store I have walked out into the garage to find that my son has not turned off the headlights. Of course, I always yell back inside telling him not to do it again only to have he saying something in effect that the lights will turn off automatically. Excuse me for my Homer-like behavior but I have never read the owner’s manual for the Corolla so I did not take the issue any further thinking my son could well be right, that is until last Wednesday night when I was leaving for work.

Earlier that evening Spoilboy had driven over to a friend’s house for a couple of hours, by the time he returned I had long since gone back to bed to catch a few more hours of sleep. Much to my surprise as I walked out the door around 10:00pm to leave for work, I noticed that he had once again left the headlights on. With a sinking feeling, I tried to start the car only to hear the ubiquitous clicking sound of a working starter but no battery to assist it. The situation became even more fun when I discovered that my jumper cables were lacking just six inches from having enough length to make it from the battery in my wife’s car to the terminals posts on mine.

Surely, no one will fault me for showing Spoilboy that his assumption that the headlight turn off automatically was completely wrong. No, I did not pull a Homer and try to strangle my teenage son but I did jump around and yell something about Dad not being a complete idiot. With time being an issue I drove my wife’s car and when I returned home the next morning, I pushed my car out of the garage and successfully jump-started it. Spoilboy now seemed to understand his assumption about the Corolla was wrong and is making every effort to avoid killing my car battery again.

The next event was so Bart Simpson-like that I honestly did not know if I should be worried or admire the gumption shown by my daughter, Miss Wiggles.

Working third-shift like I do it is my practice to ignore most phone calls while I am trying to sleep during the day. If for some reason my wife needs to get in contact with me she knows to make three quick phone calls in a row letting it ring to the point the answering machine picks up. Last week was such an occasion with me scrambling to reach the phone and in doing so tripping over the cat and several other items in floor figuring one of the kids was sick or injured at school.

“What did you order from FunMovieWorld?” She asked angrily ready to bite my head off after stating some outrageous sum that I would never consider spending without touching base with her first. After denying knowledge of the purchase she and I figured it was our son who did it and that when she returned home later that day she expected his underwear to be hanging from our unused flagpole with him still in it. Just wanting to go back to sleep I agreed and the phone call ended with her stating she would call the company, cancel the account, and plan further torture for our son so he would never grab a credit card again without asking first.

Not twenty-minutes later I was awaken again by the three rapid phone calls figuring the world must be ending this time. In the scramble to reach the phone I actually stepped on the cat this time and for several second believed I killed the thing.

In an out of breath voice denoting almost panic my wife informs me that it was not Spoilboy who established the account, but our daughter Miss Wiggles. In contacting the company my wife discovered it was a Netflix-like internet movie business with many of their shows not the family type if you get my meaning. What puzzled us both is that our daughter is eight-years old with a voice that sounds even younger so we had to figure this was not a reputable company for even dealing with her in the first place.

Fast forward to the end of that day Miss Wiggle, my wife, and I are setting at the kitchen table discussing her unilateral actions. Now understand I was in the army rising to the ranks of a noncommissioned officer, I can handle guys and I am quite willing to go all Drill Sergeant on any male including my son when he steps out of line. My daughter is another matter, with her setting in one of the kitchen chairs looking innocent I am completely thrown off, so much I told my wife right from the start she would have to take the lead in this.

“I wanted to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.” Miss Wiggled responded in a matter-of-fact manner as to why she stole the credit card and opened the account. Now summing this all up I figure other dads would have some pearl of sage wisdom they could boil down in simple enough terms for an eight year-old explaining why stealing the credit card was a bad thing to the point everyone went away happy. Embracing my inner Homer Simpson I shocked myself by having nothing constructive to say and going D’oh!


PENolan said...

I'd call Miss Wiggles an educated consumer who expects to get what she wants the instant she wants it. She may have neglected to get permission to use the card, but she didn't exactly STEAL it. She simply knew that whenever she wants something, you get the card from the wallet and pick up the phone. That you would see her behavior as anything other than absolutely charming never entered her mind.

I was the same with my dad long before he surprised me with diamond earrings the semester I flunked out of college. I felt so awful for disappointing my parents that they wanted me to know just how much I was loved and wanted by getting me something I had been wanting for a long time.

They figured out early on to keep me wanting the same thing for as long as humanly possible because the minute I got it, I wanted something else just like every other American Consumer in Action.

Great analysis with the Simpsons. It's amazing that a show with such enduring insight has been on Fox all this time.

Bill's Big Bamboo said...

Good thing her name is not "Newt". The billing would then be for TIFANY'S !!

Randal Graves said...

One presumes that, unlike Homer, you don't get the chance to put up your feet and take a nap on the job, whose benefits even the corporates recognize. Homer was way ahead of his time!

squatlo said...

Ah, Grasshopper, the Tao of Homer.

Akelamalu said...

It's a scary day when the kids overtake us isn't it? :0

Lowandslow said...

I'm actually pretty impressed you could manage "D'oh!" Says a lot about my parenting, huh?


EDIT: Actually my 3 girls turned out rather well. I'm proud of them all. :)

Pixel Peeper said...

OK, I have to admit that I laughed out loud. Several times.

I'm sorry. I actually understand.

But still, LOL.

Beach Bum said...

Tricia: Truthfully the incident was largely understandable since both my wife and son order stuff online all the time. It is nothing to be sound asleep and suddenly be woken by the dog going ballistic because the UPS guy rang the doorbell after placing something on the front porch.

My concern was the nature of the business she opened an account with, we are having to keep a close watch now on that credit card.

Bill: That is another reason we are keep a closer watch on the credit card now, she wanted something a couple of months prior that cost well over $200.

Randal and Squatio: LOL!!!

In many ways Homer is the ideal 21st century American.

Akelamalu: Yeah, my kids left my old butt in the dust a long time ago. Especially my son whose social life is exponentially greater than I ever could have imagined when I was the same age.

LowandSlow: Right now I'm just hanging on but playing this by the seat of my pants but truthfully I can't wait to see how my kids handle their children.

Pixel: Thanks you, I was wondering if I wrote this post a little too straight and serious. I find the subject of fatherhood funny as hell and my kids always have be scared to death or laughing my butt off.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Two parts Ward, one part Homer. Or is it two parts Homer and one part Ward? Somewhere in that mix, double b.

John McElveen said...



Windsmoke. said...

You have to be sane in the first place to keep some semnlance of sanity in this crazy mixed up world :-).

Beach Bum said...

Will: I'm flying by the seat of my pants, I really have no idea what I am doing.

John: This stuff is fun, but at times I can't wait for both of them going off to college.

Windsmoke: Absolutely! Plenty of beer helps thing along.

Gwendolyn H. Barry said...

[ Homer’s elevation to iconic figure in large part comes from the fact that the perceived world of the omnipotent American father has not only ended but has been irradiated, eviscerated,and burned away to nothingness.] - NO~! It can't be.
I grew up sans Dad and in the last couple of years, stopping by to read up on your life and times ... I've envied Miss Wiggles / Darth... for their life with father. It's another great post Beach. Filled with Sunday morning needs for something less controversial ... giving up something much more vital ... connection with what ultimately keeps us sane and caring. ta.

Sherry said...

That is funny. I kept thinking of all the things our kids pulled and finally realized that just as most Dad's are represented by Homer, our kids are also Bart and Lisa. Oh, dear, I do hope I'm not Marge. LOL

Cloudia said...

Doh! Keep breathing, Brother

Aloha from Honolulu

Comfort Spiral




Ranch Chimp said...

Memorial Day Greeting's from the Ranch Bum!

Thanx for the personal story Bum ... it's actually a treat at time's for me, because I read too much stuff I reckon about the left vs. the right stuff, war's, and such, ya know? In most cases ... I reckon when you try to start a vehicle and you get the repetitive "clicking", it's a dead battery ... my daughter's boyfriend has a 09 Corolla, said he never had any acceleration problem's out of it, as far as that recall stuff that just came up the year he bought it. I'll tell ya Bum ... these car's today are getting more and more difficult for me to do any work on ... tool's/ equipment, etc ... so compact too under the hood's. You may recall back in the old dayz how easy it was to change belt's, hoses, or anything ... I checked out this chick's hybrid awhile back I know ... geeezz ... I felt like I was dealing with a foreign language! I remember an old 72 Chevy Nova I had ... never once had to take it to a shop, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... not that I'm cheap ... I just liked to broaden my vehicle knowledge :)

I watched the Simpson's once when it first come out, because it was such a big craze show, I reckon I never got into it, couldnt even get through the whole episode. My daughter's have done some crazy thing's at time's, I never once had to raise my voice even with my daughter's, I have alwayz managed to talk thing's out (heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... I'm a good salesman :). Once not long back (well a decade) my teen daughter take's out my car (before she had one of her own) went to pull into the driveway and tore off a good chunk of the front end of my neighbor's car for instance, I could go on and on, on some of those time's, and some stuff I cant talk about here, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh :)

BTW ... I notice some folk's call you "Beach" for short, I call you "Bum" instead, because that was the nick name of one of my mom's brother's, he lived in Brooklyn (NY) ... he was one of them "wiseguy's" actually ... yep, just like in them so called "gangster movies", heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... true.

Ya'll have a good un!

Beach Bum said...

Gwen: The crazies have burned out my brain so this is about as serious as I can get for the time being.

Sherry: The best we can all do is just keep our heads, plus I always found Marge to be the sane one of that television family.

Cloudia: Aloha!

Ranch: I've heard a few mechanics say that they need special tools to work on some cars. My uncles had a Nova way back, I remember seeing them work on it all the time.

Mr. Charleston said...

Once again I am thankful I didn't have to raise teenagers.

Oso said...

She's 8!
And she's smart.Both my daughters are smart too, and they kicked my ass thru their teenage years.Part of it was the situation you describe with a daughter. Hang tough Beach, most of us get thru it with a semblance of brain cells remaining. If all your brain cells go you can run for office as a Republican so there's hope either way man.

Murr Brewster said...

Children should not drive. Children should be issued a bicycle and a twenty-dollar bill and they can use them just as soon as they're sprung from the basement when they're 21.

okjimm said...

//Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2.//

... now, you can't beat that logic... nope, nope, nope.

Nance said...

Those guys who wrote The Simpsons weren't fools! And neither are you, but you're clearly no match for Miss Wiggles, honey! Stand by for further OJT.

lime said...

holy crap! really? wow. the girl has some real guts!

but yeah, you were right to sic mom on her. girls have a way of reducing daddy to mush.