If my grandfather were alive today, he would have recently celebrated his 96th birthday. This is the same grandfather I have a picture of in my home office. In it, I'm just a few weeks old, and he's just a few weeks from leaving us. It's truly a touching shot.
Grandpa Milty was a World War II Marine. He fought in the Pacific Campaign, survived Iwo Jima's first wave, and made what I've been told was a good life for himself after coming back home. He worked at a factory that made the boxes for Valentine's Day chocolates, and it was there that a young lady caught his eye. She told me her first thought upon seeing him was, "Oh! A Marine! And he's cute!" Yes, that same object of his affection became my grandmother. I thankfully, got roughly 30 years with her in my life, the last decade of which she decided to throw cares away and actually spoke like WWII Marines depicted on film. I can't print some of the best of what she said, but let's just say when I think of Bubbie Rozzie, all I can do is smile. She left us in 2010 and I still haven't cried. I think of this as a good thing.
So why the quick family history?
Well, as I sit here typing this I'm wondering what the members of the Greatest Generation are thinking privately about some of the so-called news from the past few days and the sheer lack of common sense and decency that seems to have disappeared.
Let's start with Hollywood. Because as frequent readers of this column know, I love movies. What is one of the most anticipated movies this summer? It gets its widespread release on June 2 and is the first mainstream female-led superhero movie. I'm talking about Wonder Woman. And I'm looking forward to taking my daughter and one of her friends.
However, since there are things going on at our house during the movie's opening weekend, we'll probably attend a screening the following weekend or perhaps we'll hit a drive-in. It's up in the air.
What is not up in the air is the fact that a whole lot of stupid reared its ugly head the past few days when some movie chains announced they would be hosting "Women Only" showings of the film. According to multiple news sources and the world's best and worst version of telephone - Twitter - men complained. I honestly couldn't bring myself to read any comments on any of the stories because it was embarrassing that there were people so idiotic. It is a movie. Movies are almost always meant to entertain. And blockbuster movies tend to stick around for a while. See it at a later date.
Of course, there were some comments that were unavoidable. Ones suggesting that if there was a "men's only" showing that people would complain - and likely sway the public to follow them - were among the most popular. To that I just laugh. Without getting too political, it is unbelievably shortsighted for men to complain about not being able to see a movie - starring a woman - for a day or two longer than originally anticipated. Stereotypically speaking, if social media is to be believed, there are couples in this country who allow one member to essentially become a noncontributing member for 16 Sundays from September to December. (There are some couples in which both members schedule life events around said Sundays, and in which both partners place those Sundays high on their priority list, but this is my column so I'm going to use this as an example anyway.)
The best meme about the Wonder Woman "story" was one featuring a group of politicians. Summing it up, it asked where the women were as those politicians were crafting women's health care policy. To whomever made that meme, you earned a mic drop my friend. It's a valid question. Just like this one: Why are there no actual practicing doctors crafting health care policy?
So, just as the Wonder Woman story seemed to be losing whatever light steam it had to begin with, a Japanese driver won the Indianapolis 500. A young man named Takuma Sato.
And once again, the Internet buffoons did not disappoint. A sportswriter sent out a tweet saying he was "very uncomfortable" with the winner simply because he was Japanese and it is Memorial Day weekend.
Excuse me for a moment, while I smack my own forehead, because there is such a glorious opportunity for a Karate Kid 2 reference in a winner's write up that the sportswriter should be smacked for that alone. The blatant tone of the message led to Twitter users calling him out for such shortsightedness, and he has since apologized. He did. He tweeted out, "I apologize." Well, good for him for not droning on about learning lessons or sending out a "sorry, not sorry" piece about how he didn't mean to offend anyone.
If he wanted to draw a parallel between the first Japanese Indy 500 winner and his homeland and Memorial Day, for crying out loud, use the winner's last name. Sato was a perfectly glorious 1980s movie villain. He had great lines to Mr. Miyagi, such as, "You die as you have lived; a coward!" and my personal favorite which I use frequently, "Your fear make air stink!" In the end, Sato is redeemed and there's a big fight and Sato is on the side of the good guys. Drawing the loosest parallel possible, 70 years ago Japan was our enemy. Today they are pretty damn good allies and athletes like Ichiro Suzuki have become household names. For young Takuma Sato, he is hoping to make a mark on the F-1 circuit. Something like that.
I'd like to think that my dad's parents would have enjoyed making fun of the stupidity running rampant today. I don't know who they would have voted for, but I am pretty sure that based on all the stories I have heard about Grandpa Milty, he probably would have agreed with me that neither main choice was worthy of a vote. He would have wondered what so many of his fellow Marines, and every other solider in every other branch who has made the ultimate sacrifice, were fighting to protect.
So as Memorial Day 2017 is now upon us, and we honor our fallen with local parades and private barbecues and solemn ceremonies, we recognize what many people have said many times: America is the land of the free because of the brave. And not all of the brave make it home. Honor them by using some common sense.
Howie Balaban did not mention his Bubbie Esther who is 92 and loves casinos. He knows what she thinks about today's "news." He simply decided to talk about unknowns to drive his own personal narrative.