May 25, 2013
The last couple of days, I’ve been out in the backyard trying to bring order out of the chaos of weeds and tall grasses from which I wrestled my garden, this year. Because what we’ve had of spring has been quite rainy, I’d sneaked out to turn over the patches of soil and plant them one by one in between those rainy days and quite ignored the areas around the patches.
My son had been over to mow the lawn, but I don’t let him into my garden with the power mower. So, with those prolific weeds and grasses threatening to take over, I decided I’d better take advantage of the last few cool and sunny mornings to take care of them. And because my little hand mower, while decapitating the lower growing weeds, merely flattens the taller ones along with the grasses, I did most of it by hand.
I don’t mind this. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Once I establish a rhythm, my mind is free to wander and think about all sorts of things. And the last few days, I’ve been thinking about soap operas.
There was a short time, when I worked evenings at the hospital and was home during the day while my son was in school, I watched a couple of the soaps quite regularly. I suppose, as a young single mother, it amused me, in a kitschy sort of way, to pretend that those well-off, beautiful people really struggled with the same problems I did (though mine never seemed to involve the ever-changing romantic entanglements theirs did. After all, who had time for all that bed hopping while raising a kid?)
Inevitably, though, the reality of struggling to keep food on the table while working and trying to finish a college degree through the oil shortages, stagflation and recessions of the seventies and eighties crowded out the faux drama of the soap opera; I left them behind and, from necessity as much as anything, never looked back.
So, it puzzled me to find myself thinking of a long-gone soap opera from those days as I crawled around the garden on my hands and knees, dispatching weeds and grass – until I turned on the news, the other evening.
The same rising tensions, the same dramatic pauses, the villainous scowls, the deer-in-the-headlights glances (and, from what I read in the behind the scene news, the same bed hopping entanglements.) Misleading accusations meant to deceive and confuse. Promises made that you’re certain will not be kept. Scenes from, As the World Turns? No, Congressional hearings and Presidential speeches. Scenes from, As the Empire Crumbles; soap at its finest.
Inevitably, though, the reality for too many of us, of struggling to put food on the table and hold on to what we have as our cities contract and our infrastructure crumbles, the economy fights against the rising cost of hard to retrieve oil and expensive natural disasters, crowd out the faux drama of this governmental soap opera. While real problems go unsolved as the Imperial elite squabble over the detritus, ever more of us see it as the dysfunctional farce it has become and, from necessity as much as anything, walk away and never look back. Enjoy the holiday weekend, but get back to the weeding and hoeing as soon as you can. The kitsch is not nearly as amusing when the soap opera is real and you’re the one living through, As the Empire Crumbles.