Once in a while, the op-ed gods ask me to whip up an “evergreen” column for the stockpile, which dwindles during summer months. Hmm. I’m more of a hot-off-the-griddle, ripped-from-the-headlines gal.
“Evergreen” suggests a subject with continuing significance rather than a riff on the moment. Problem is, not much lasts long enough to be evergreen. Whatever I write today will be gone with the wind by July.
Coincidentally, my 19-year-old grandson informed me, “Nobody gets cable any more, Nanny.” The new generation streams from Amazon, or Netflix, or whatever. Everything they need is on demand.
“How about cable news channels?” I asked with horrified innocence. No Wolf Blitzer, Morning Joe Scarborough?
He flashed his cellphone, tuned to what was happening that very minute on the campaign trail, in Washington and Iraq. Furthermore, I learned, the young’uns are abandoning Facebook in hordes, for Snapchat.
They rely on apps without knowing what the abbreviation stands for.
What’s worse, he continued, desktops are dinosaurs, and email’s on the way out — which I’d already discovered when he didn’t answer mine until I texted him to check it.
Which means, it seems, that evergreen turns brittle-brown in a flash.
This got me poking around for less-
mutable evergreens before they, too, wither away. Here are some of them.
Youth, and the preservation thereof:
Youth has been a hot item since biblical maidens rubbed olive oil into their cheeks. What a waste of good oil, since women back then did not regularly live long enough to wrinkle up.
People still lust after the health, vitality, beauty, mental acuity characteristic of 21-year-olds, who lust after the respect and success of the paunchy mature, who wag their fingers, uttering, “Youth is wasted on the young,” who answer: “You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”
I chuckle at the financial institution that advertises “wealth management.” Seems like people of wealth got that way because they had management down pat. And the ones who don’t fuel the obsession with lists of the wealthiest men/women in each state, country, ad infinitum.
The chance that people reading these lists or subscribing to financial plans will ever become “wealthy” is slim, but the interest endures. Of course, there’s a huge difference between wealth and money. Wealth buys Renaissance art and endows university chairs. Money merely funds political campaigns for candidates with solid gold shower heads.
People still die of cancer, catch colds, break bones, go blind. For all the improved treatment and miraculous cures, illness remains among us. Eradicate polio, and along comes AIDS. Vaccinate for smallpox — then tackle Zika.
Scientists suggest the plague of Athens in 430 B.C. was ebola. No more lepers with deformed hands, only the flipper arms of babies born, tragically, to mothers given thalidomide during pregnancy. And if medical care has greatly extended life expectancy, then why are medical errors the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.?
This uber-evergreen, like a chameleon, changes colors according to where situated. Bawdy eras give way to Victorian (surely a misnomer, since Queen V had nine children) mores.
What is acceptable in one race, religion or nationality may be taboo in others. Remember Sweden’s scandalous “free love” of the 1950s? Not all movement is improvement, evidenced by contemporary phrases like “baby mamas,” of which a male may have several.
Belief in a high power (not always benevolent) seems chromosomal, since homo sapiens’ earliest artifacts reveal symbols that ask the question fueling a thousand “Ancient Aliens” episodes: Did God create man, or did man create God?
The first god was the sun. Surely nobody thinks Madison Avenue coined “sun worshippers.”
The higher power conundrum must be the ultimate evergreen, spawning more words than spoken or written about anything else, ever. Strange that the more the discussion, the less the resolution.
Films like “Gravity” and “The Martian” would have attracted audiences even without hotties George Clooney and Matt Damon, respectively. Every night, every Earthly creature looks up at the planets and stars, but only a few understand what’s happening.
I certainly don’t, nor do I want to. Black holes? Supernovas? I’ll settle for squeezing 715 words out of a subject that’s supposed to last forever. However long that is.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.