As part of my rigorous homeschooling regimen, my son and I have been watching a lot of documentaries. Having just completed a long retrospective on the Vietnam War I thought it was time to dovetail into the Watergate Scandal. I was around eight years old when Watergate broke. It was incredibly inconvenient. No matter when you turned on the television, there was a man in a crisp jacket and a tie talking. Men in ties at desks are journalists, which means they are not allowed to take sides, which means they are not allowed to show emotion, which means they are almost deliberately dull if you don’t care about and/or understand what they are talking about. I think someone tried to help me understand: it sounded exactly as trivial as everything grownups found important always sounded.
Even a visit from my beloved grandmother was hijacked by this endless grownup distraction. No one would play with me or talk to me; all they would do is sit in front of the television while these balding men talked. I knew full well nothing any of those men said would have any effect of our lives. I stormed outside and began digging in the dirt. My mother joined me.
“Why do you guys care about this stuff?”
“Well, it’s never happened before.”
It was a very reasoned response, and I felt mildly guilty for not caring more about this Very Important Thing, I dug some more in the dirt. Forty years later I pushed play on the History Channel documentary. Bald men in ties named Halderman and Liddy and Hunt sat in chairs and talked. Sawyer began squirming in boredom beside me.
“Look at these guys!” I said. “Listen to what they’re talking about. Can you believe all the crap they were trying to pull?”
I thought my use of the word crap might draw him in.
“I know,” he sighed, turning to look out at the street. “Nixon was a terrible guy.”
I turned it off. Perhaps we would try again tomorrow. I have to admit that I still find the grownup world a little trivial, even though I am thoroughly a part of it. There is always so much fuming over things that will change. I don’t want to storm out anymore, however, which is why I write: this is the most dignified means I could find to keep digging in the dirt.
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