Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Diapers and the End of Civilization

Maybe I should be caught up in spiritual bliss, oblivious to my surroundings, after receiving the consecrated Host at Mass. It's a pretty big deal. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1322-1419, for starters)

As it is, I notice my surroundings. This Sunday I saw a young family go past me: the wife guiding a (preschooler, I think) and a slightly older child, the husband - a tall fellow - carrying their baby. A little later, I saw another man carrying a baby who could be either his son or grandson.

"Happy Days," Nostalgia, and a Pretty Good Memory

If you live in America, you may have seen episodes of "Happy Days" on television.

It's that sitcom set in a practically-perfect version of middle-class America in the fifties. If the show's not being rerun on cable here in America at the moment, my guess is that it soon will be. Again.

The point is that some folks seem to remember the 'good old days' of the fifties as if it really were the wonderful world of the Fonz, the Cunningham family, and Arnold's.

I indulge in a little nostalgia now and then: but I don't make a habit of it. I remember the fifties: I've got a pretty good memory. And I've done a bit of research on the period.

Happy Days it wasn't.

Diaper Changing Tables: In the Men's Restroom?!

Even without McCarthyism, Hollywood blacklists, and the Cold War (which wasn't limited to the fifties), that decade had its problems.

Like men not touching their babies in public.

These days it's not at all uncommon for the mens' restroom in my part of America to have a diaper changing table on the wall. Good thing, too, since sometimes the kid has got to be changed and: well, you get the point.

Remember that young man I saw carrying his baby in church? That's not unusual today, either. And hasn't been for decades. Back in the 'good old days' of the fifties - at least in the part of America where I lived - a man was about as likely to wear a grass skirt, as to be seen holding a baby in public.

'Real men' didn't do that sort of thing. If they were 'good, decent Americans,' they dedicated their lives to their job, and wouldn't be caught dead being seen holding a baby or changing a diaper.

Yes, those were the 'regular guys' back then. There were some advantages to living that way. If they were good at what they did, quite a few of those men made quite a lot of money. Being white and a WWII veteran helped. And that's another topic.

I don't know what today's 'experts' have to say on the subject, but I suspect that AWOL fathers may have contributed to 'those crazy kids' deciding that they'd had enough of materialism, in the sixties. Yet another topic.

Pushing the Stroller and the End of Civilization

Along with "un-Biblical" practices like women wearing slacks, the sixties saw a radical change in the way men who had children acted.

They started being seen in public with their kids. Some of them even held their babies or pushed the stroller!!!

It was the end of civilization as we knew it.

About time, too, in my opinion.

A Brief Digression on Women Wearing Slacks, North Dakota Winters, and Abraham

Women wearing slacks? I grew up across the river from Fargo, North Dakota. It gets cold there in the winter. It would take a mighty long, thick, skirt to be warm, from around the end of November to somewhere in early March, if memory serves.

I'd read the Bible. And hadn't seen anything about women having to freeze their legs in order to maintain a dress code from ca. 1940s/1950s America. (September 26, 2009)

I'm getting off-topic, but not by much.

Happy Days? Hardly

As I wrote before, the fifties weren't, really, Happy Days. They were a decade of American history with good news, bad news - and, in my opinion, AWOL fathers. Sure, they slept in their houses, along with the rest of the family. But doing 'women's work' like help with the baby or kids? No way.

A generalization? Yes. Somewhat accurate? I think so.

The sixties weren't 'the best of times' either. I was there - and am all too aware of problems which became obvious then.

There was a lot of change going on in American culture. Some of it was bad.

But men - some of us, anyway - becoming more involved with our families? Being willing to hold the baby or push the stroller? And not being ostracized for such 'unmanly' behavior? That, I think, was a good thing.

Not all change is bad.

Somewhat-related posts:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

I think the comma is supposed to be a dash: "the husband - a tall fellow, carrying"

Also, since 'men' is already plural, shouldn't the possessive be "men's"?

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian, aka Aluwir, aka Norski said...

Brigid,

Right you are, on both points. Found & fixed. Thanks!

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.