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Quiet Desperation

Let’s consider this a role call, for example


I am auditioning role models next week. Please bring your resume.

Please don't.

I need a role model like I need a carton of mewing kittens.

A role model is generally thought of as someone whose behavior is favorable, and who is a good example for others, especially, but not always, younger people. These often include athletes, entertainers, super heroes, politicians and priests.

However, I never wanted to be like Mike, Missy, Captain America or Miss America.

There's not much of a chance of it, but I would never want to be anyone's role model. If I were elected, I would not serve.

Your idea of a role model is probably not the same as mine.

I have been reading about a new film that "empowers" women and offers young women and girls someone to look up to. Is it about Helen Keller? Not exactly. Maya Angelou? Not quite. It's about a woman who wears Lynda Carter's old clothes, which amounted to a push-up, a sword, and not much else.

Trying to ID a man or a woman as a role model would be a good way to get myself in trouble.

Let me throw out some names: Kylie and Kendall, Anderson Cooper, Hans Christian Andersen, Wayne LaPierre, Ted Nugent, Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerman, J.K. Rowling, George Washington, George Washington Carver, Aimee Semple McPherson, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Phyllis Schlafly, Fred Phelps, Fred Rogers.

Bob Dylan.

I am not being disingenuous about any of those names. There are people who look up to each of them.

Can we agree 100 percent about anyone? Abraham Lincoln? Ask them in parts of the South. Martin Luther King Jr.? Ask them in parts of Arizona.

Elvis didn't want to be a role model, but Ed Sullivan tried to make him into one. It was awkward and embarrassing.

"I wanted to say to Elvis Presley and the country that this is a real decent, fine boy, and wherever you go, Elvis, we want to say we've never had a pleasanter experience on our show with a big name than we've had with you."

(Ed also asked Connie Francis, "Tell me, Connie, is your mother still dead?")

I don't think anyone would get everyone's vote. Muhammad Ali? Gandhi? Barry Bonds?

Bonds said, "I think everyone needs to be a role model, period."

I believe we need bad role models too, if we need role models at all. This isn't Pleasantville. I think someone like Bernie Madoff taught us a good lesson.

If I were pressed on this, I would say that all I needed was Harry and Shirley. The country is full of Harrys and Shirleys. Unassuming parents, who love and protect their children, feed them, and send them to school.

My Harry and my Shirley provided me with a Dickensian gamut of behavioral traits, dispositions, and temperaments that continue to serve as good examples of good examples and good examples of bad examples.

My father was objective, rational, honest, industrious, and humorous. My mother did a good job of preparing me for unbalanced people.

If it had only been one or the other, or if they had both been the same, I am certain I wouldn't be writing a column like this - like this.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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