BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN
Note: This column was supposed to appear last week but was delayed for reasons that were out of the Skepster’s control. Next week–I’ll be addressing this Atomic Bomb of a story that appeared in Vanity Fair this month. If you haven’t read about it yet–do so right now. Put my column down–go get the September Vanity Fair and read it. I won’t be mad at you. And like a clingy emotionally depraved ex-girlfriend or boyfriend–I’ll still be here when you get back. We’ll talk about Vanity Fair next week children. Now on to the show!
I don’t know if there’s a Heaven or a Hell. But I do know that if Hell is any hotter than LA has been all week–then that’s enough of a reason for me to lead a better life and renounce my sinful ways. We’ve had record heat–hurricanes up the wazoo–and apparently the glaciers in the far north are melting away faster Paris Hilton’s 15 minutes of fame and no one seems to care or worry. Global warming? What’s that? In fact–during the course of writing this paragraph–I witnessed no less than nine Sports Utility Vehicles drive by the coffee shop–at least three of them driven by Armenian fake-blonde trophy wives on their way–no doubt–to the Galleria. Last month–Americans spent 4 billion dollars more on gas than they normally do. FOUR BILLION!! This all goes to show you that the more things change–the more they stay the same.
Our economy is suffering but you’d never believe me because the White House and its spin doctors keep telling the public that everything is "OK." The price of gas keeps rising in spite of the fact that we have successfully invaded/liberated and occupied the most oil rich nation in the world (hint hint for the slow readers–it rhymes with Chirac). Yet folks are still driving around in SUVs–spending money on unnecessary material possessions and seeking new ways to impress their friends–neighbors–relatives and coworkers. God forbid they don’t sport the latest fashion or trend–and then what will other people think? (If you missed my article from a few weeks back on the "What will other people think" mentality of Armenia’s–then I suggest you go back and read it in the Asbarez archives). We have become a generation of obese–gluttonous–wasteful wastes of space. Why are our lives driven by what we watch on TV while eating mass quantities of processed junk food. In contrast–I look at my grandmother who is the last person in the world who would litter or waste food–or take an elevator instead of the stairs and wonder where the subsequent generations of Armenian Americans lost their way?
My grandparents are the most frugal people you’ll ever meet. They’re also the most unintentionally environmentally conscious folks I know. They aren’t cheap or stingy but they know how to survive on just the basics–as well as know the appropriate time or occasion to splurge. When I was younger–I always found it embarrassing when my grandmother would bring over a jar of her famous homemade eggplant dip (ikrah) stored in an old Jiffy peanut butter jar. I feel guilty when I remember my disappointment at opening the colorful jars of mass produced crap food only to find a mysterious odd colored paste wafting with the smells of spices and ingredients from a land forgotten that reminded me of grandma’s house. As I’ve grown older and my tastes are more refined–I can’t wait until the next delivery of Armenian delicacies to be delivered. Will it be roasted red peppers or ikrah or will it be something sweet like pumpkin preserves? Now my disappointment is greater when I hastily open the jar of Jiffy peanut paste in the fridge only to find that it is actually peanut paste. Yuck! I don’t know if it’s age as much as it’s maturity that has changed my perceptions. Today–I find even her recycling habits very endearing and admirable.
If either of my grandparents ever saw me throw even a scrap of paper or a sunflower seed shell on the ground outdoors–they would give me a long lecture about the merits of being civilized and not "vayreni" (wild like an animal). On the same note–if they ever saw me waste food–it would be followed by a similar lecture about how I shouldn’t waste food and be grateful for what I do have. Theirs was a different generation. A generation whose parents had witnessed unspeakable horrors during the Genocide–World War II–Stalinism–the Great Depression–and they had learned a few things along the way.
Last week–I went over to my grandma’s and slumped into the couch as I bit into a fresh summer peach from the bowl on the coffee table. As the juices dribbled down my chin–she looked at me with a motherly admiration and asked me about my day. I automatically went into my rehearsed rant as I told her that the weather was unbearable and how tired I was from work. Grandma sighed and nodded her head in agreement. She then went on to tell me about how when she was younger–the family had lost everything to the Turks after the Genocide–she went to work in the fields picking everything from eggplants to tomatoes in scorching heat. She smiled as she told me about the days when they would search the field workers on their way home to make sure nobody was stealing a tomato or two to take to their hungry families. She spoke of waiting in line for hours for bread that had the consistency of mud. She told the story not to make me feel like a lazy bum in comparison to her but in order to empathize with my "fatigue." As she continued to describe the blisters and scars her hands and arms would receive for hours on hours of work in a scorching hot field–I began to realize that here was a woman who represented a generation like which we will never see again in our lifetime.
Today’s parents teach their children that if someone is cheating to get ahead–you better cheat also just to keep up. I’ve heard it with my own ears and seen it with my own eyes.
They teach their children that it’s ok to throw trash out of the window of their SUV while speeding down Glenoaks Blvd. (I saw that last one with my own eyes as well).
They don’t teach their children an ounce of respect towards adults and they spoil their children with ridiculous amounts of jewelry–plastic surgery–SUV–or whatever car of luxury.
Then we sit back and wonder why the next generation is so spoiled and so uneducated. Our organizations wonder how they will survive when their average membership is comprised of silver and white haired dadigs and babigs. On any given Sunday–drive to church and look at who is filling the pews and then drive down the street to the Glendale Galleria and count how many young Armenia’s are just walking around aimlessly and spending their parents’ hard-earned money.
The bottom line is that our youth is delusional–lost–misguided–spoiled and if we rely on them to keep alive the essence of our culture and heritage–then we’re all pretty much up the creek without a paddle.
Maybe it’s all this unbearable heat that’s getting to me. Maybe my readers are right and I’m just at total jerk with no compassion left in my heart or the ability to understand today’s modern Armenian. Maybe I’m just hungry and need some more ikrah. I’m going to see if there’s any left in the Cool Whip container in the refrigerator and after I’m done eating–I’ll stick my head in the freezer to cool off.
Skeptik Sinikian is the founding president of the Anti-Modern Armenian Society (a.k.a. AMAN Society) which meets once a week at Maple Park in Glendale–California to play backgammon–sort various plastic grocery bags into color coded piles–and wash out jars of jam and peanut butter for reuse. You can join by emailing him at [email protected] or visit his ridiculously outdated blog at www.Sinikian.blogspot.com.