Closed 4/Closed System

My earliest pangs of dissent happened in fourth grade.

My homeroom teacher, a Mrs. Lage, unexpectedly yelled at me one afternoon after having me do a math problem on the chalkboard. "Chris! Why don't you write your fours like everyone else?!" I wrote closed numeral 4s, just as they are on a typewriter or computer keyboard or on the Channel 4 logo I saw on TV in my youth. According to the teacher, everyone else in class wrote open fours. I had no idea my way of writing 4s would bother my teacher, and when she chastised me I was surprised, hurt, and outraged.

Mrs. Lage's attitude towards conformity typifies the attitude of America at large. You must conform. Everyone must conform! Standardization of human minds at all costs. Protecting the insular system from forces of corruption with rare exceptions.

The closed 4 represents a closed system. The United States is free and open in certain dimensions, but it's a closed fascist system in other ways. Ways which include thought and style. (See George Orwell's "1984."). It's an open society in some respects, but most definitely a closed system of conformitarianism in others.

And who was Mrs. Lage to give me a hard time about my fours? I mean, she knew they were fours, otherwise she wouldn't have called them fours! So, she recognized them as the correct number I intended to write and use in my math exercises.

But Mrs. Lage did not even know how to pronounce her last name correctly. She called it "Loggy." Another case of American bastardization of words. The German pronunciation, which is the only correct one since the name is German, is Log-guh, not Loggy...This is another thing that pisses me off about Americans. They think they can just Americanize any fucking pronunciation they want to. They can change Hispanic and French pronunciations, and German ones, just because they're Americans. Just because they have a superiority complex and an arrogance as Americans. They can call a street in Oklahoma City "Vil-la Avenue" (pronounced in the same manner as "vanilla") instead of the original and correct "Vee-uh" (as in "Pancho Villa"). Damn, this pisses me off! Pronunciations should never be altered. They should always and forever and eternally remain the same as they're pronounced in their original language. Quit fucking up pronunciations, America!

Off the tangent and back to the point: If we had more freedom we'd have more diversity. More lifestyles, more modes of survival, easier means of survival, more cooperation between individuals and companies. The pressure to conform would not be as strong either. And teachers wouldn't give a fistfuck about how you write your 4s, as long as they're legible.

Rah-rah-rass, Kick 'Em In The Ass

More pangs of dissent, which I suppose are part of normal growing pains but which in my case galvanized me into becoming a conscious non-conformist, transpired in sixth grade .

A classmate named Darrell Pettis shocked all of us classmates one day when he said he was for the opposing team in the upcoming high school football homecoming game. Who knows if he really meant it or if he was just being difficult. He was ridiculed, of course, and although I didn't have the courage to publicly agree with him I felt bad for the guy.

Not only was the guy showing a lot of guts, he was trampling on the sacred. You just don't speak your allegiance to the rival town 28 miles to the east of yours. And you don't dare dissent in any way when it comes to the town's idol: the sport of football. I mean, being for your hometown is automatic. Noone would ever dream of a person from Watonga rooting for the team in Kingfisher.

I say, however, you can be for any team you want. Why do you automatically have to be for your hometown's team? What if you don't like your home town? What if the school bully plays on your home town's team? What if the home town team is full of druggies and thugs? After all, noone has any control over where they're born. They don't get to choose their country and certainly not their town or city.

What apparently prompted Darrell's impetuosity was the passing out of spirit ribbons on football game day. Even in grade school, we were brainwashed into supporting the school colours. Go team! Spirit ribbons were distributed to every single student in the fucking school every fucking Friday and we had to pin them onto our shirts with straight pins and wear them proudly. Or face detention. We were encouraged to show school pride by wearing the beautiful red ribbons, and encouraged to attend the game that evening. Come to think of it, I think we were required to buy at least one ribbon apiece. This was the early Seventies, so the ribbons were something like 15 cents each. Every Friday for 10 weeks (a few more if your town's team was talented or lucky enough to get into the playoffs), mommies and daddies all over my town, and surely in towns all over America, would hand a few pieces of silver and copper to their little schoolchildren and say "Today's ribbon day, honey. Don't forget to pay your teacher for your football ribbon..."

But, I repeat, I say you don't have to be for your hometown team if you don't want. Most Americans think you do, and they carry this perspective to the professional level. They more often than not cheer for the team which is geographically closest, such as Oklahomans being for the Dallas Fucking Cowboys (or as Washington Redskins coach George Allen always called them, "the god-damn Dallas Cowboys!"). On the day of Super Bowl XIII, in my hometown in northwest Oklahoma, I asked my uncle "Who are you for - Pittsburgh or Dallas?" He said "Dallas. They're closer." I've never understood the "reasoning" behind this. I've always said "If you're an American you can root for whoever you want." If I lived in Miami I could be for the Seattle Seahawks instead of the Miami Dolphins. Who gives a fuck? I just don't get it. Geographic proximity makes no sense in regard to allegiance to sports teams. If you live in Alaska, are you going to be for the Russian national hockey team in the Winter Olympics instead of the American team? Well, if you follow the inane principle of geographic proximity you sure the fuck will.

And of course, being a natural non-conformist I was a fervent Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings fan as a youth, despite the fact that both those teams were a lot fucking farther away from my town than many other teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowpukes.