On Being Indignant

When you're caught between a world going mad and the mystery of being in love.

On Being Indignant

I'm not really a Mike Pence type. I've actually never thought it made sense to sell my soul. Plus, no one has offered the right price (although if you have a serious offer, reply here if you want to talk). But I do share a couple of things in common with Mike these days. Not that I'm entirely irrelevant due to my past choices, but that I look bad in a pair of cowboy boots, some would say my smile looks fake, and finally, that when the things of this world go slantwise, I get righteously indignant.

For most of you (that is, normal people accounting for roughly 47% of my subscribers), that's traditionally just called “annoyed,” but in a slightly holier way since Mike brings the religious element to even his most basic aggravations. Trust me, if you cross paths with him when he has a masculine itch, you’ll probably start tithing just to make the prayers stop. My anger, not unsurprisingly, is less righteous than his.

But being angry is a common plight right now. Most of you can relate. We're faced with some of the worst prospects of our lives. The world is faced with war on multiple fronts right now, and the most powerful countries in the world are all involved, albeit by proxy. At the same time, here in the US (where the vast majority of you readers are), we're faced with what is perhaps one of the most concerning elections since, well, the last one. A second term for president is known as the unhinged term, so even though our two presumed choices are the same as before, they are also worse than before.

In the case of one, Trump, to me, seems like the modern incarnate of D.C. Stephenson of the Klu Klux Klan, who once said, "I am the law," and controlled every judge and elected official in the state of Indiana. He was an untouchable type. His power was concentrated in one state, so perhaps Trump is the federated version of him. Biden, his modern opponent, is so frail his team hesitates to put him on TV. They won't even put him on a tarmac without supportive medical-grade sneakers.

What we're faced with is this. One candidate will cripple our storied institutions, and the other candidate will cripple himself with a bad fall.

And I feel a fall coming myself. I'm like a bird without a song or a lymph without a node. Soon, I’ll bemoan to the next generation that we used to be a nation of men before it was subjective. I'll say that back in my day, we would vote for our presidents and unfriend jihadi terrorists on Facebook. But today, everything just seems so unsure, like Joe Biden's gait and whether work is more productive in an office or remotely on Zoom calls.

There are very few things that are certain. Among them are death and taxes, both of which are barreling toward us at this very moment, but one more certainty is upon us. It’s Valentine’s Day.

When the world has gone mad, and nothing around us is certain, a made-up holiday may be able to save us. It's the day when every 3rd-grade student is reminded to tell their teacher that they matter by giving them a cheap piece of chocolate shaped like an owl. The day when TGI Fridays actually takes reservations. When they don't have to explain that a blondie for 7.99 is not a last resort for desperate men but a nightcap for a happy couple of 30 years, just before the check and the real nightcap.

Flowers, cards, letters of kindness. Most of these are beyond the scope of any normal relationship. But the best ones have them anyway, not out of obligation but because it makes a relationship better when you add a little color to the room.

But Valentine's Day is a fake holiday. Why do we need a fake holiday to set us men up for failure? Valentine's Day is a forced reservation when they are hard to come by and a pack of flowers that cost more than a BMW but die faster than an iPhone. It's the laundry day for the stains we’ve collected all week. It's the one thing you should have planned earlier besides her birthday.

To me, a fake holiday can’t be held responsible for the good deeds we forgot all year long, but it can hold us responsible for taking this moment to do them today. Valentine's Day is the story we tell ourselves to remind us of the people we love. It's, in a sense, a religion of love. It’s the reminder of the ordinary that feels extraordinary, most of all because we don’t do it enough.

I don't talk about religion much, but I will today. Stick with me, and pardon me if this gets personal. I'll reserve it for paid subscribers.