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from Volume 5, Chapter 1

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Friday, August 12

Maddie starts her college career at Hamilton University tomorrow. Of all the grandchildren, she is the most like Skip—persuasive, brilliant, and zealous all rolled into one promising student. It’s a shame she was not impressed with the armed services, for she would have made a fine fighter pilot. All things being equal, Maddie turned down an appointment at the Air Force Academy, and for that reason alone I would like nothing more than to wrap my arms around her generation’s peculiar breed of entitlement and never let it go.

Her coveted admission as a Hamilton Scholar will rock this old granny’s world. I cannot imagine what it would be like to enroll in college today. Everyday occurrences have become essential issues, with students demanding more rights and learning less each year. As with past generations, rebellion against the conservative wisdom sustains the status quo. In Maddie, I see the brokenness in a once great nation, and America is reaping what it has sewn from a liberal education and postmodern relativism. Where and when, and which expensive curriculum had infiltrated with the gods of Darwin and hedonism to brainwash this beautiful mind?

As a millennial Boomlet of Gen Z, Maddie talks in what the pundits call vocal fry speak. Her voice patterns reflect a generation that is slipping away from standard practices in almost every walk of life. She declares her to-do agenda in an irritating rising uptone; mispronounces words: Bast instead of best. Yup for yes. Distribute instead of accenting the second syllable. But the most frustrating thing is how Maddie makes every statement seem like a legitimate feeling, and such self-importance does little to further meaningful dialog.

Uhm, actually. So, like how do I make you understand? I was organizing the amazing protesters who were sent to the D.C. rally last month. And out of nowhere, dude, my team leader said they literally lifted me up and carried me right to the freakin’ stage. Like I was part of the campaign, it was so awesome! Meeting her in person was the biggest f-ing deal of my life! She is HYP. Super smart, too, determined to crush poverty. She knows we are really, really tired of politicians, and her chief of staff wants my time spent getting her elected.

“What is HYP? And about Christmas…” I cling to the vulnerability of our familial customs, like language and holidays, with my voice breaking in the plea.

“I just. Can’t. Even… HYP–Harvard, Yale, Princeton. She embodies the Ivy League credentials to make a difference.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, Christmas has become a super-white holiday, anyway. I definitely don’t drink the eggnog anymore.”  Maddie talks fast like she is speaking in code. “Frankly, Gran, my life over the holidays is better spent on what really matters for this F-upped country.” Her tone resets to a low crackling at the end of her tirade, sounding more like a wounded animal than a Hamilton Scholar.

“Well, thank you for letting me know, Maddie,” I posit a more congenial tack.

“No problem,” my granddaughter replies rotely, and literally our conversation drifts into the furthest thing from awesomeness. I try another avenue to see how much she knows about family business:

“Have you heard from your parents since they left on vacation?”

“Mom said to text her when I arrived in Carrington. Oh, I hope it’s okay to leave my car here, Gran. And also, if they ask, please don’t tell them I’m not staying at the Inn. Our community organizer is letting us crash in his basement so we can bond before the rally tomorrow. We have a conference call with the sponsors in Manhattan.”

Our phone call escalates into more garbled rants about the hypocrisy of the U.S.

Stonewall Jackson

Then comes the insipid, ultimate sting: “It’s a disgrace to know that my grandfather took his marching orders from Ronald Reagan!” She has the start of a smirk. Maddie has drawn her line in the sand of the conversation, and I am embarrassed by her impudence; although I shouldn’t be surprised because her parents raised her to believe she was so special.

“I have the Timi Suite all made up for you, Maddie. Your mother said you could stay all weekend. Have you decided whether or not to go through Rush?”

Before I get in another word, my granddaughter lets out a haughty laugh that comes across like allegiance to the party rather than accepting free accommodations from a loving grandparent.

“Thanks, but I’ll pass. The Inn – it’s just too much the icon for capitalism. As for the Greeks, not for me, either. Besides, with 2,000 incoming students, I have pledged to turn orientation into a protest of the Civil War statutes. They linger like old white ghosts, Gran. But isn’t that one of the reasons I was chosen to study here?”

Copyright 2018 Rebecca Templeman, all rights reserved.


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