Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Educating the next generation

One of the nicer things about the kids getting older and bringing home significant others is that I get to educate said others.

No, I'm not teaching physics or math -- but I am trying to expose people to culture... at least as I see it.

Older Daughter's husband, Hank (whom I've sometimes called ODB, for Older Daughter's Boyfriend), was my first victim. Hank dated my daughter for seven years so I had a number of opportunities. He'd never seen The Quiet Man, for example. At Christmas, I made him sit through The Bishop's Wife. (Well, Hank's an Episcopalian himself.)

Hank's an architect by trade, so I contributed to his professional education by exposing him to Cary Grant in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House. Older Daughter didn't mind this so much -- but she really objected when I made Hank sit through George Washington Slept Here. (Older Daughter can't stand Jack Benny. This disappoints me. On the other hand, she is one of the few 20-somethings around who knows enough about Jack Benny to have an opinion, albeit a misguided one.)

Hank is a bit of an Anglophile. In the wrong company he might be mistaken for a bit of a snob. But I can use his highbrow leanings against him. Just a few weeks back, I was looking to suggest a film for Hank and, without naming the title, I said we might try a Sondheim musical based on the works of the Roman playwright Plautus.

"I thought I knew every Sondheim musical," Hank responded, swallowing the bait before he knew the hook had been set, "but that doesn't ring any bells."

I popped A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum into the DVD.

Older Daughter wandered into the den a half-hour later and began chastising me, but it was too late.

I haven't had as much success with Oldest Son's wife, Abby. She's very quiet -- in my presence -- probably because my disloyal son has warned her what might happen if she expresses any interest in anything.

But I have a new victim now: Younger Daughter has a beau and he's spending quite a bit of time at the Curmudgeon home these days. From my point of view, Olaf also has wide gaps in his cultural education, but he's not an in-law yet. So I have to be careful: He can easily avoid me.

Thus, I must become a trusted provider of cultural information. I built some credibility over the weekend.

Olaf is not a musician -- which makes him different from every boy Younger Daughter has fancied in the past (usually, whenever she revealed an interest in a new boy I would just ask 'guitar' or 'drums'? and that pretty well covered the waterfront). On the other hand, even though he doesn't play an instrument, Olaf has an interest in music, and apparently a particular interest in classical 20th Century European music. Like the Beatles, for example.

So, the other day, when he was hanging around the house, I thought to pop in the Powerpuff Girls' classic Meet the Beat-Alls DVD. This impressed Olaf no end: He remembered the Powerpuff Girls cartoons fondly from his childhood -- he even vaguely remembered this episode -- but had never caught the references before.

Now, I have to top this.


Dave said...

I'm thinking I get the picture: Powder Puff plus Beatles. My clues are the white lines, left to right and four whatevers making the crossing. I'm ignoring the creatures in the air.

Somewhat on topic, I gather I'm going to have to remember the new names you are using. I like Olaf, I've decided he is Scandinavian or spent some time in Minnesota. Either being the case, are you going to have to deal with a Protestant issue?

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

protestant? oh my!

smiles, bee

The Curmudgeon said...

Dave -- yes, Olaf is of Norwegian extraction. Most of his extended family is Lutheran although Olaf's parents are some species of Evangelical. Olaf himself would be best described, though, as unchurched.

And -- good Catholic boy that I am -- I selected Olaf's nom-de-blog from that of the patron saint of Norway....

And, Bee, we'll handle it as necessary. Promise.