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One for the Road: The Stepford syndrome

For some time I’ve been seeing and hearing TV and radio ads featuring a program for parents to manage problematic behaviors in their children. The founders of the program claim they can help parents eliminate disrespectful, obnoxious and abusive attitudes, and promise to provide tools that enable them to change their child’s behavior quickly and dramatically.

Being a former disrespectful, obnoxious and abusive child, and knowing that many other similarly-behaved children have survived and evolved into talented, creative and successful adults, I have to wonder about this program. Do we really want generations of well-behaved, cookie-cutter children to enter the world of motorcycling when they reach legal age? What kind of world would it be without the likes of James Dean, Marlon Brando and Evel Knievel to teach us how to think, act and talk like bikers? One can only presume that the huge success these bigger-than-life motorcycle-riding misfits achieved, and the long-lasting effects on generations of bikers, had as much to do with their errant childhood (and in some cases, adult) behaviors as it did with their talents.

I’m the last one to give child-rearing advice, having had none of my own to raise (my two godchildren allow me the luxury of taking on a fairy godmother-type role without having to deal with the day-to-day parental challenges). And I feel for parents who are dealing with the spawn of Satan. But the whole idea of this program kind of creeps me out. It reminds me of The Stepford Wives, a movie first released in 1972 where all the women in town had been transformed into docile and submissive housewives.

And that brings me to another gripe. This program seems to be more geared towards boys’ behaviors than those of the so-called fairer sex. Lord knows there are enough little girls out there who raise holy hell in their households. Take me, for instance. Picture a family restaurant scene. Mom: “Judy, what would you like for dinner?” My younger sister: “I’d like the fried chicken with honey, please.” Mom: “Marjorie, what would you like?” Little Miss Nasty: “I don’t want anything.” Mom: “Look, they have so many different choices.” Me, in a loud, shrill voice, making the other diners stare at us: “There’s nothing I like. I want to go somewhere else!” Dad: “Be quiet. You’re embarrassing us. Just order something. I’ll deal with you when we get home.”

At home my behaviors were even worse, like the time I jumped on my sister’s stomach right after she ate dinner to see if she would throw up. It worked. What a mess. And my critical, vicious nature was revealed when I didn’t get my way—but I’ll save all that for when I write my book Memoirs of a Disturbed Demon Girl. Let’s just say that in my teens I was so rebellious, self-destructive and generally out of control that my parents dragged me to a shrink to figure out why I was so angry, constantly fighting every bit of discipline, or even guidance, I was given. But one could say that all that adolescent angst produced a woman who, in spite of all the well-meaning advice forced upon her, eventually blazed her own path through a series of non-traditional vocations (for females, anyway) and living situations that satisfied her nonconformist inclinations.

But I digress. In reality, I can’t think of a world more boring than a society composed entirely of a polite, well-adjusted population. I mean, with what scandalous fodder would newspaper gossip columnists fill pages? What would we talk about when there’s no longer anyone to criticize or ridicule? My life would be incomplete; there’d be a huge, gaping void if I couldn’t click onto the TMZ website and read about Jesse James’ next future ex-wife. Or if I couldn’t watch the Teutels’ dysfunctional family act out their juvenile antics on TV, or Jax Teller and stepdad Clay Morrow struggle for control over the Sons of Anarchy MC. Oh, wait; never mind. Those are all fictional characters.

Come to think of it, this entire behavioral change program for children is an affront to bikers everywhere. It’s the antithesis of everything we stand for. We need to band together; we need to maintain the mystique surrounding the motorcycling lifestyle. We need to protect our way of life, and keep out those who would seek to normalize and civilize our ranks. Do we really want to join the mainstream maelstrom, no longer striking fear and terror into the hearts of citizens? Oh, wait; that already happened in the ’90s. Never mind.

 

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