Lifestyles Of The Poor And Normal (Best Of)
Fred Flickenloss has been at the factory all day where he installs floormats in Fords. Most of the time he only pretends to work while his boss pretends not to notice. At noon he attended the local Union meeting and demanded cost of living increases, paid vacations and job security but when the siren sounded at the end of the day he got in his new Japanese 4X4 truck and drove home.
Home is a condo in the suburbs where he and his third wife cocoon with their six kids. One from all six of their previous marriages. It’s more of a collection than it is a family. As a practical joke on his birthday Fred’s kids bought him a charter membership in the “Couch Potato Club” because in the evenings all he does is sit in his Lazy-Boy recliner, eat potato chips and watch terrible TV.
Fred’s clothes come ready to wear and his food ready to eat. Fred drinks light beer because a horse on television said it was the party thing to do. Fred munches on snacks that contain no cholesterol, no salt, no smell, no nothing. He’s supposed to get the taste by watching TV commercials. Fred’s wife microwaves him a pre-digested hamburger made from seaweed and such that will be ready in a McMinute. A TV doctor with no training in nutrition (but a million dollar diet book deal) told him he was supposed to feel guilty about eating real meat so instead he’s killing himself one carbohydrate at a time.
Fred is a member of the Pepsi Generation who wants Haagen Daas Ice Cream for dessert. If he’s fat it’s not his fault. He’s a victim of the ice cream, French fries and light beer trying to kill him. He stays active in the fitness movement by wearing a sweatsuit in front of the T.V watching football on Sundays, Monday and Thursday nights. His only exercise used to be getting up to change the channel but now he has a remote control so he doesn’t even have to do that.
Fred’s wife serves dinner in front of the TV so they can watch some playboy or pervert newscaster report the latest misdeeds of yet another member of the Kardashian clan. Fred yells at the kids to “shut up” so he can hear the weather report for the weekend. Fred lives for weekends and only wants rain on weekdays to water his lawn and wash his truck so he doesn’t have to.
Mrs. Flickenfloss escapes this mind-numbing madness by seeing how high a balance she can run up on her Visa-card down at the mall or on the Internet. Night time finds her applying her natural beauty by painting her fingernails and dyeing her hair. Meanwhile, Fred has to walk their Yuppie Puppie. It will be the only meaningful conversation he has all day. He waits for after dark to walk his dog so his dog can do his thing on the neighbor’s lawn. The neighbor’s dog did his thing on Fred’s lawn earlier in the evening.
Fred sets his digital alarm for 5:30 because it takes him an hour to commute the 15 miles to work. He passes the drive-time by keeping in touch with his wife and kids either talking on his cell phone or by texting them while driving. These are the same family members he could have talked to face to face the night before if he hadn’t been so engrossed in all the thrilling “must see TV.” Yeah, right..
Only once a year does this routine vary. That is when Fred takes the family on a week’s vacation and escapes to Disneyland or Disneyworld. With the kids fighting in the back seat, they speed through the small towns that make up America’s heartland at 70 miles per hour. They pass a farm house or a small community in the middle of nowhere with no cable TV, mall, fast food, or skateboard park. Some clothes are drying on a line, a father is plowing a dusty field, kids are feeding their 4-H and FFA projects while a mother pulls a fresh apple pie out of the oven. Fred surveys these rural surroundings, turns to his wife and says, “How do people live like that?”
Very well thank you. Very well.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Sept. 11, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News