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My mother, believe it or not, tells me I am "one in a million". So what, you say, all mothers think their children are unique and special. Unfortunately, her pronouncement was not meant to be complimentary. Quite the contrary.

My 70 year old mother feels I am inflexible, closed-minded, immovable, unreasonable, and intolerant--just plain silly. She tells me I am behind the times and I'd better get with it.

Her allegations began a few years ago when my family was visiting for the weekend. A rainy Saturday had kept my three daughters inside her small condo and the girls were becoming restless. "Turn on the TV and watch a movie or something while your Mom and I have some tea," Granny suggested to her pre-teenaged grandchildren.

They settled in to watch the video she had inserted into the VCR. Ten minutes into the movie I ordered my kids to turn off the television.

"Why did you do that?" my mother asked, obviously puzzled. "They were quiet weren't they?"

When I explained to her that in those few short minutes I had overheard several foul words and lewd double entendres, she laughed at me.

"You can't be serious," she blurted out in disbelief. "Those girls probably hear worse than that at school every day."

"I'm sure that's true," I answered stiffly, showing my indignation, "but they don't have to hear it in their own family."

That's when she pronounced me "one in a million".

I truly hope she's not right. I'd much prefer to be one OF a million. I'd hate to think I'm the only person concerned with raising my kids to be sane in an increasingly insane world.

I understand that we are all exposed to ideas, views, theories, lifestyles, and belief systems that challenge the way we think, the way we want to do things, or the way we believe things should be. But I feel traditional moral and ethical foundations, as well as socially established rules of conduct, have been shaken, if not destroyed, by relativity, compromise, negotiation, manipulation, comparatives, pseudo- relevance, analogous truth, and the embracing of individual freedom at the expense of the common good.

What's genuinely interesting to me is that my mother's somewhat derisive comment came from a woman who just 20 years ago whispered the words pregnant and miscarriage, who never uttered the word sex--it was always "making love." This was the woman who choked on her coffee when my brother, then 20, remarked "Gee, so now you've slept with a man," when I returned home from my honeymoon.

Today, she talks freely and knowingly of transexualism, transgenderism, and multiple orgasms; wonders at the possibility of reincarnation and channeling the dead; postulates to my daughters about choice and intrusiveness of religion.

In fairness, I had to sit and consider my feelings and attitudes. Was I unreasonable? Rigid? Intolerant? I came to the conclusion that I was not. My dictionary lists the following as its first choice definition: tolerant; inclined to tolerate (allow without prohibiting or opposing, permit) the beliefs, practices, traits of others; forbearing, endure; to put up with. So, according to The Grolier International Dictionary, I am, indeed, tolerant. How can I not be? I go to work, educate my kids, pay my taxes, follow the law, stay on my own property, leash my dogs, pay my bills on time, mow my lawn, recycle my trash, and celebrate the Fourth of July. What I am not, however, is accepting.

Again, my dictionary states that to accept means to receive (something offered) gladly, willingly; to receive as adequate or satisfactory, to regard as usual, proper, or right; to regard as true, believe in. According to Grolier, I am definitely not accepting.

So then, why was I one in a million while my mother was not? There are no clear cut answers, but because my mother spends much of her free time watching television, I believe that medium has influenced my mother in ways even she cannot discern.

Discounting the usual suspects, even prime-time television has educated us into a new "social awareness." While television experts continue to tell us that TV is a reflection of society, I contend it is just the opposite--television has the power to sway society.

For instance, let's look at the very popular Thursday night line-up on NBC. Early in the evening, we have a group of long-in-the-tooth "young" people endlessly searching for the right sexual partner. No one is successfully married, although the supposedly stable character has been married three times, with a six year old son he never sees--at least on the show. And while the language is tame by today's standards, the innuendoes and inside jokes are rife with sexual meaning.

Then, later that same evening we have two professional, overly educated, affluent brothers who are also endlessly searching for the right sexual partner, although there is the hint of a yearning for marriage. No woman has been acceptable to these two. Even though the younger man secretly yearns for the employee of his older brother, class snobbery keeps him from fulfilling his fantasies about her. Their widowed father, who lives with the elder brother, is a regular Joe, full of common sense, attractive, successfully retired, and yes, unmarried. Why? Who knows. There are allusions to a good life with his dead wife and yet even that imaginary marriage is in the long-ago past. The other major character on the show, a single woman, spends her time jumping from bed to bed, trying to find the right man to become the substitute father for her illegitimate child.

Finally, in the most popular prime time show of all, we have a group of dedicated, hard-working, self-sacrificing doctors and nurses who are, yes, endlessly searching for the right partner. In fairness, it seems the characters are looking for committed relationships, however, isn't it amusing that none of the characters are married?

While I applaud the show for keeping the foul language down, butts and breasts covered, and double entendres to a minimum, I am curious why the producers refuse to portray a stable, committed--albeit with the ups and downs of real life--married couple. Most of the doctors I know are married, have legitimate children, and try hard to keep all their balls in the air.

I refuse to assimilate television's messages. I refuse to teach these messages to my children. While marriage is only one issue in a continuum of questionable and worrisome societal changes, I refuse to change with society. Does it make me unreasonable? Maybe. Does it make me silly? Probably. Does it make me intolerant? Not necessarily. Does it make me one in a million? As I said earlier, I hope not. Does it make me mad? Hell, yes. And so be it.

 


Gail Woods Thompson is an aspiring Renaissance Woman. Being the daughter of one, then wife to another career military man, Gail has enjoyed the opportunity to see all parts of this country.

"After 30 moves, I am looking forward to finally settling down in front of my computer screen to write about all the interesting places and intriguing people I have discovered along the way."

This freelance writer has been published in e-zine magazines, print publications and print anthology collections. She spends her free time reading, singing with community choruses, volunteering in her community, and perfecting gourmet recipes that even her family will eat. When not in front of the keyboard or stove, she studies writing with the LongRidge Writers Group.

E-mail Gail at: Gailsong@aol.com.


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