in my humble opinion

Look, Ma—I’m a dinosaur!

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 3/24/21

I’m still trying to figure out what kind of dinosaur I am, but it’s increasingly clear that I’ve become one. Am I a T-Rex? I don’t think so. I may have a sharp tongue and …

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in my humble opinion

Look, Ma—I’m a dinosaur!

Posted

I’m still trying to figure out what kind of dinosaur I am, but it’s increasingly clear that I’ve become one. Am I a T-Rex? I don’t think so. I may have a sharp tongue and frighten the faint of heart, but deep down, I’m not actually a bully. I know I’m not a brontosaurus because they are thought to be gentle, plant-eating peaceful giants, and that doesn’t sound much like me either. I’m thinking maybe a velociraptor? Mostly because from afar they look small—almost cute and cuddly—but when they’re in the mood, they can tear you to shreds and look like they’re enjoying it. At least, that’s what movies like Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” would have you believe.

In truth, none of those is a perfect fit, but at the risk of mixing multiple metaphors, I’ll tell you why I chose to compare myself to a beast that’s been extinct for 65 million years: Last week, I wrote in advance about the 34th Annual Hortonville Talent Show, the Youth Economic Group (YEG), the Rural Migrant Ministry (RMM) and my [then] upcoming participation in the event, which was online this year, due to the restrictions of you-know-what. It’s no secret, at this point, that I’m not a fan of online entertainment, whether or not I’m actively involved, and I was hesitant to participate. That said, I find it impossible to say no to The Hortonville Presbyterian Church’s Jane Orcutt, who has been the wizard behind the curtain since the talent show originated, sometime around the Mesozoic Era.

 When she called and asked me to co-host the talent show online, I accepted the challenge because it’s not in my nature to turn Jane down, nor pass up an opportunity to lend a hand to a worthy organization like YEG. I may have a hard candy shell, but... hey, I warned you that I’d be playing fast and loose with the metaphors.

As it turns out, the show was an amazing success and the virtual parade of talent was beyond impressive. While my glass was momentarily half-full, I had to acknowledge that Jane and YEG putting their heads together worked well for RMM, and combining generations was a game-changer as far as the talent pool and reaching a wider audience were concerned.

As always, there was an eclectic group of acts including musicians, dancers, poets and artists, but I know I wasn’t alone in missing some long-standing members of the old school crowd who were (IMHO) collateral damage, undoubtedly left behind in the wake of the new normal—the brave new world of technology—much in the same way that I felt like I’ve been left behind in class.

 There were scores of logistics to work out, between the judges (Carol Montana, Joe Abraham, Danny Lang, Katia Yagnik and Chloe Goorman), the pre-taped performance videos, live hosts Tommy Tom and me (adorably lurking in the virtual shrubbery), and the audience at home who watched the show online. It truly took a village of young, enterprising kids to put the wheels and cogs in place. Just before we went live on Zoom, we collectively crossed our fingers, silently praying for a smooth ride.

On the heels of more than 100 texts from the planning committee (“It’ll be fun and easy,” they said) the event started on time, remained on time and ended on time. These factors were a huge concern for YEG’s Communications Coordinator Grayson Morley, who was responsible for the technical side of things, literally working feverishly behind the scenes during the show. In addition, events coordinator Liz Grese and YEG Coordinator Juanita Sarmiento were extremely busy themselves, putting out last-minute fires and having to deal with old folks like me; of course, I was fairly vocal (if you can imagine that) about my own personal self-centered concerns. “How do I look on your screen?” I asked, referring to my brand new “light ring” purchased with the intent of casting a youthful glow onto my wizened countenance.

During the team’s too-late-to-make changes run through, more personal issues came up, including feeling way too old (I mean Yoda old), completely out of touch and utterly dispensable. But the golden setting on my light ring was definitely flattering—at least, that’s what the young folks said.

 “Don’t be ridiculous,” Jane had said during an old-fashioned phone call that I had initiated before the show. “You are way more on top of your game with all this newfangled technology. I’m the one who’s a dinosaur.”

“I beg to differ,” I whined. “I have no clue what I’m doing, and I think the kids are just humoring me. I’m afraid that it’s the end for old fogeys like us, and we’re one step closer to being put out to pasture. Maybe it’s time to put me out to pasture, or take me behind the barn and just shoot me. You know,” I said to Jane, “like rural folks did in the old days.”

I had a lengthy conversation with Grayson on “The FaceTime” (as Mom would say) two days after the show, desperate for him to understand my feelings and wanting to give him the opportunity to respond. He did so quite eloquently, surprised to hear that I felt like a useless appendage to the new order and assuring me that I was mistaken, while simultaneously blowing smoke... um, let’s just say in my general direction.

I don’t mean to imply that Morley was disingenuous—he was utterly sincere, and I’m grateful that he (hesitatingly) took me up on the opportunity to discuss my old-timey slant on things. Before our chat, I was resolute in my conviction that the whippersnappers were seeking a way out of dealing with dinosaurs like Jonathan and Jane, but it’s remotely possible that I was mistaken. Only time (which is rapidly running out for my generation) will tell.

Even if you missed the show, it’s never too late to donate. RMM’s website states, “We act to overcome the prejudices and poverty that degrade and debilitate people within rural New York by building communities that celebrate diversity, achieve true mutuality and fight for dignity and opportunity for all.” Visit www.ruralmigrantministry.org for more information. Or, if you’re “past your prime” like me, you can give them a call at 845/485-8627

Fun Fact: There are somewhere between five and 12 “mixed metaphors” sprinkled throughout this article. Can you find them all? Email me with your answers at jonathanfox@riverreporter.com to find out what you’ve won.

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