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Lost Highway

by | Jul 2, 2024 | Blog

I was just a lad, nearly twenty-two

Neither good nor bad

Just a kid like you

K.L. was smarter, prettier, and cooler than me.  (Not a high bar). We met when she joined our sorority.  She was younger than us, but soon welcomed into our goon squad.  Together, we broke a lot of rules.  We were repeatedly threatened with expulsion from the columned white mansion on North College Street.

I graduated and we lost touch.  I heard she became a lawyer.  I heard she had children.  I heard her law license was suspended.  I heard she was homeless.

And now I’m lost, too late to pray

Lord I’ve paid the cost on the lost highway

Who can understand addiction?  It feels like navel-gazing to even try.  But you can’t swing a dead cat or go to the Wal-Mart in Moraine without being confronted with the substance abuse crisis. To not even think about how we got here seems wrong, like the lives affected don’t matter.

            Here are my theories.

1. God is Dead.

Lonesome, ornery, and mean: Nietzsche circa 1875

In our era, this phase is often associated with those shitty Kevin Sorbo movies.  It originated more than 130 years ago, when the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche declared:

“God is dead.  God remains dead.  And we have killed him.  There has never been a greater deed; and whosoever shall be born after us – for the sake of this deed he shall be part of a higher history than all history hitherto.”

Now, Nietzsche was a confirmed weirdo.  He moved a lot (like a lot) and relied on friends for money.  His father and grandfather were Protestant ministers. It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to wonder if his final book, “The Antichrist”, was more about sticking it to the old man that propounding a coherent world view.

Nonetheless, Nietzsche called it.  He understood that Charles Darwin’s discoveries about evolution upended historical Christian teachings.  Darwin’s theory of Common Descent – that all life descended from a common ancestor – made the bible’s creation story seem, well, crazy.

Nietzsche’s teachings have influenced modern philosophers like Jordan Peterson and the Michael Sugrue.  God – at least a shared idea of God – is dead.   Nietzsche lives.

I’m a rolling stone, all alone and lost

For a life of sin, I have paid the cost

 2. Kim Kardashian’s Kloset

Before reality television, most of us would never see the inside of a celebrity’s home.  We would never know about red bottoms or Birkin bags or those new Balenciagas (the ones that look like socks).

What Ray J has joined together, let not man put asunder.

Now, we poors can gather ‘round the screen to behold the klothes and kash that flow from your mom selling your porno.

           When I pass by, all the people say

There goes another boy

On the lost highway

 3. American (or Western) mothering

There are a lot of upsides to women joining the workforce.  Like prosperity, growth, and having enough money to leave an asshole.

Like anything, freedom has a price.  When parents are at work, children are left to institutional caregiving (or other arrangements not called Mom).  When parents aren’t at work, they are tackling chores that used to be completed before Dad came home from the plant.

In his flattering authorized biography of Robert F. Kennedy, Arthur Schlesinger wrote that, after visiting an Israeli kibbutz, RFK was disturbed to find that children went to daycare centers while their mothers worked.

Today, 59% of children aged five and under spend considerable time under nonparental care.  Of that population, 62% are placed in daycare centers.  Of that subset, around a third of children are under the age of one.

The trend of outsourced mothering coincides with increased alcohol abuse among women.  It is associated with elevated stress and makes Candace Cameron Bure look like Nostradamus.

Now boys, don’t start to ramblin’ round

On this road of sin, are you sorrow bound

Take my advice, or you’ll curse the day

You started rollin’ down that lost highway.

           K.L., you’re in my thoughts, wherever you are.  Please call your brother.

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