Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, birthday. I'm aware of this because I made an appointment with a black friend who said we'd meet on his birthday, and because I at least skim each day's Writer's Almanac and it was mentioned today. It also noted his assassination. That's pretty much what I think of when I think of Martin Luther King – his death.
I remember when Watergate was ... doing whatever it was doing. I thought, "Man! I hope my grandkids don't ask me about this because I don't even know what Watergate is!" And that's because I've never been interested in current events. Happily, I've never been interested in producing offspring, either, so those theoretical grandchildren have never queried me.
It was sixth grade that introduced me to the phrase current events. We were to bring in newspaper clippings about what was happening in the world. I don't remember ever cutting up a newspaper. I'm pretty sure I didn't listen to anyone give a report. I definitely don't recall enthusiasm on anyone's part.
I maintain that ennui to this day. I can get crazed about presidential elections, but only if someone around me starts it. Left to myself, I tootle around, never caring one way or another. Or I'll get an email from Amnesty International, become appropriately outraged at the injustice in a middle eastern country or a midwestern state, click on the TAKE ACTION button, and get back to my life.
I don't mind this sort of purposeful ignorance when it comes to pop culture. Who really cares about that? How is it ever actually important? Television comedians have to care, since they have to make jokes about current events in all the categories. I can't think of anyone else who should care.
My friend Ruth is eighty-five. She subscribes to People magazine, just so she can "keep up." With whom? Why?
Today, however, I feel really bad that I haven't kept up. It's all James Earl Ray's fault. Had you asked, I would have floundered, but at least his name would have been familiar. I would have come up with the fact that he's a black guy from the sixties or seventies who was either a politician or a musician – or maybe both.
In fact, however, he's the considered assassin of Dr. King. And he's white. Some time after a televised mock trial, according to Wikipedia, the King family concluded that James Earl Ray had had nothing to do with MLK's death.
Fine. It's moot by now, isn't it? although it sure wasn't then. Still, I should have known. But I don't want to keep up. I don't want to be aware of current events, unless they're events in the lives of my friends – and they never are. I'm much more interested in Andrea's father's visit from the Amish man who performed chiropractic on one of his horses.
Still, when someone knocks me out and the EMT asks me who's president, I want to get it right.
◘ ◘ ◘
It's true that a photo of my cat Ruthie may be misleading since she doesn't think balancing on the fence requires any special skill. Still, she is gorgeous, isn't she?