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!