The future is all wet

Recently when I left for work one morning, the monsoons started. This is always a wonderful way to start the day and then, adding to my misery, I got stuck behind a school bus that made countless stops on its way to the local middle school, picking up the future leaders of America along the way.

I started thinking that somewhere on that bus was a future president of the United States, not to mention a president of Wal-Mart. Somewhere on there there’s an American idol and a Kim Kardashian, somewhere a Tim Tebow and a Lance Armstrong and somewhere a Bernie Madoff, stealing lunch money and destined for a life of detention. It’s frightening.

After a few minutes, I noticed something curious. Even though the rain was coming down hard, none of the future leaders had umbrellas and only one had on a slicker. And absolutely nobody was wearing those bright yellow raincoats we wore as kids.

Times have changed. My mother was like Mussolini and would never let me out of the house without the appropriate inclement weather attire, which included a pair of “rubbers” that I’d ditch in the bushes. But rain gear for kids today seems to be nothing more than shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops.

My first thought was “Our future leaders are getting soaked.”

My second thought was “Our future leaders aren’t too bright … Medicare is doomed.”

My third thought was “The parents of those future leaders aren’t too bright … they don’t deserve Medicare.”

Equally disturbing, a few parents were under umbrellas while the kids got soaked because, as one father explained to me, “It’s not cool to be under an umbrella when you’re a kid.”

I’m worried about the younger generation. I don’t want them to get sick. We can’t afford any more unnecessary health costs in America, considering that smoking, obesity and anti-aging products already account for about 75% of the gross domestic product and the other 35% is probably student debt. (Yes, it’s so bad, it’s 110%.)

Actually, I had sympathy for their parents because I’ve been through this ordeal once or twice or maybe 1,000 times when my daughters rushed off to the bus stop, wearing no coats, gloves or hats in the dead of winter with eight inches of snow on the ground and subfreezing temperatures. You’d think they were raised in the Yukon.

So I’d drag them back in the house for some fatherly advice, which mainly consisted of yelling. Then, I’d refuse to let them leave until they were dressed appropriately — only to see them standing at the bus stop a few minutes later with no coats, gloves or hats. Or their coats would be hanging off their shoulders like Batman’s cape in some weird teenage fashion statement.

As an adolescent, I, too, followed the prevailing fads of the day, whether they were white crew socks with penny loafers or pegged pants and pencil-thin neckties.

Conformism is common during adolescence, which nowadays can last into your 30s, if not middle age. My daughter insists that every middle-aged guy she sees on the train dresses the same as I do, or more accurately, I dress the same as they do with golf shirts, khakis and Orvis hats to hide the balding.

Yes, I’m a conformist, which is why I was never a future leader. I was a future follower and proud of it. My motto was “Lead me in the right direction or the wrong direction. I don’t care.”

Nevertheless, I developed enough common sense to use an umbrella when there’s a downpour. I won’t wear rubbers, though, because I’m still rebelling against my mother. Besides they’re still lost in the bushes somewhere near the bus stop.


Joe Pisani may be reached at Joefpisani

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