Thursday, June 4, 2009

An Historic Day

Why is it so important to recall where we were on any given historic day? This seems to be the parlour game du jour on any famous anniversary. It was all the rage this morning on CNN (in addition to Obama’s Cairo speech), with Kyra Phillips announcing the twentieth anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre with the breathless excitement of someone declaring we’ve found a cure for cancer. “Where were you on that historic day?”

She reminded me of a sexier, kinkier, russet-haired version of Miss Nancy from Romper Room making sure we all knew that today was a BIG DAY!

So where was I?

Uh, I dunno. Going to work? Doing the laundry? Watching it happen on TV? (Bingo!) The same thing I do every day. Why ask? An individual’s immediate, perceptual experience of a given event may be important to them, but it isn’t really all that significant in a larger context, and it’s beyond tedious to hear about.

Just once, I’d like to hear some man-in-the-street testimonial of this sort that had some symbolic or metaphorical value:

Well, I was sitting at my breakfast nook eating Grape Nuts and doing a crossword puzzle, trying to figure out a seven letter word for masturbation that starts with ‘O’, when word came over the TV that the U.S. had captured Manuel Noriega. I stopped, stared at the television, marvelled at what a historic moment it was, and resumed eating. When my children came downstairs, I told them, “Look, kids, this is an historic day,” to which they brusquely replied, “Who cares?” “I hate history,” and “I can never remember dates.” That was that. I went back to my crossword, with terms like ‘Operation Just Cause’, ‘Pre-Dawn Vertical Insertion’ and ‘Operation Nifty Package’ jangling around my head when it suddenly hit me: Onanism! That was it! Onanism, a word I’d never heard outside of Bible study. Now, and for the rest of my days, I will associate the glorious climax of Operation Just Cause with defeating Panama and re-discovering a synonym for masturbation. Ah, yes, January 3, 1990, a magic day!

[cross-posted at Bad Attitudes.]

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