Dear Ideologist: Abstemious Abnegation and Aging in America

Pete Karman

(Illustration by Terry Laban )

Dear ITT Ideologist,

A controversy has flared up in our town over the decision by a group of latter-day Cathars to inhabit caves adjacent to our Chuck E. Cheese and Pornocopia-anchored strip mall. As you may know, Cathars adhere to abstemious abnegation, refusing all food derived from creatures that do the dirty. The presence and practices of the sect are provoking anger by both cheese eaters and wankers, who regard them as insensitive. There is also fear that their anti-consumerist example will cast a pall on the Halloween sale by the Walgreen’s across the street. Could you help us to resolve this problem?

E.Q. Menical, Albi, Ark.

Dear Mr. Menical, 

So the Cathars are up to their old tricks again. I thought Rome had cleaned up that bit of apostasy back in the 13th century. It seems that all the cults are feeling their oats. I’ve had reports about a similar clash in lower Manhattan, where there is fear that a proposed mosque frequented by over-dressed women would be a bummer for those shopping for full frontals at the neighborhood’s popular flesh pots. President Obama has set a precedent in dealing with such problems by the use of drones. Of course, such recourse is not usually available to civilians. Short of that, I would suggest corruption of the spirit. Leave some sexed-up Chuck E. Cheese menus at the entrances to the caves and hope for the best. I would start with the vegetarian pizzas, plus a free virtual lap dance coupon.

Dear ITT Ideologist,

I am a recent arrival in America from one of the timeless lands beyond the seas. My parents were too poor to afford a calendar, so I do not know my age. I am therefore trying to pick a good one to present myself to your country. I read that Americans in their 20s are still children, that those in their 30s and 40s dread being out of work, that those in their 50s and 60s fear losing Social Security, that the 70s bunch now disport themselves like 50-year-olds, and that Betty White, at 89, is the new model for the barely ticking but still kicking. Which cohort do you recommend?

Gene Ology, Timeline, Neb. 

Dear Mr. Ology,

I have always been partial to age 49. It allows one to be youthful without being puerile and mature without being arthritic. A few young women might even notice you. And you can cop senior discounts at the movies since the kid ticket sellers can’t tell the difference between grown-ups and geezers.

–Pete Karman

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Pete Karman began working in journalism in 1957 at the awful New York Daily Mirror, where he wrote the first review of Bob Dylan for a New York paper. He lost that job after illegally traveling to Cuba (the rag failed shortly after he got the boot). Karman has reported and edited for various trade and trade union blats and worked as a copywriter. He was happy being a flack for Air France, but not as happy as being an on-and-off In These Times editor and contributor since 1977.
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