May 19, 2012
By Mickey Friedman
Do you remember when people would say “he’s losing his grip on reality” about someone who seemed not quite there? When an expert on something or other would announce on TV that some adamant, outspoken, overly-passionate woman had “lost her grip on reality?”
A scary thing. But now I can relate. I’m having a hard time with reality. Quite frankly, between you and me, I’m not even sure I could recognize reality if I saw it.
In my world there are now several realities.
Let’s start with the here and now reality. I’ve got one of those red plastic baskets with the little metal handle and I’m trying to find two ripe avocados at the Big Y. Two for three dollars. I’m doing great because I have a back-up plan. I know if I can’t find the perfect two with my name on them, there’s always Guidos. And I can always use a half-pound of Marketplace turkey. That’s my everyday reality.
But all it takes is reading the Eagle or the New York Times or turning on the TV and boom, I’ve got to deal with reality reality. That’s when I start to slip and slide. No one on TV is talking about avocadoes or Marketplace turkey.
The last time I checked in on reality reality, it was student loans. Somehow The Banks aren’t happy with charging young people 3% interest for the privilege to go to college. I just asked my friend Google to check on interest rates. Google tells me Sallie Mae has variable rates that range from 3.17% APR to 9.37% APR.
Findaid offered this complicated news: “The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 cut the fixed interest rates on newly originated subsidized Stafford loans for undergraduate students to 6.0% (2008-09), 5.6% (2009-10), 4.5% (2010-11) and 3.4% (2011-12), with a return to 6.8% in 2012-13.”
Let’s see if I understand this reality reality. If you want to go to a halfway decent college and your mommy and daddy don’t have an extra two hundred grand on hand, you’re going to be borrowing money at anywhere between 3.4 and 6.8%.
We all know I’m terrible about money. Money doesn’t like me. But I seem to remember that my wonderful Pittsfield Cooperative Bank, like all the other banks around here, aren’t paying me hardly any interest on the money I have sitting in their vault. I hope it’s sitting in the vault but it’s probably been given to your daughter to pay for “Advanced Anthropology: The Mating Habits of the Maori.” Which should really help her when she applies to slice Marketplace turkey at Guidos.
I might have lost my train of the thought here. A long time ago when we had a different reality reality, everyone, Republican and Democrat alike, celebrated young people. Do you remember when young people were the Future of America? And because young people were important, and we liked them, we wanted them to go to college and we wanted to help them go to college. Am I making this up?
Anyway, I started to watch the TV newspeople – they always seem to be sitting at long tables these days, some from the right and some from the center and someone who pretends to be left and they were arguing about student loans and I found myself wondering if maybe this wasn’t reality reality but reality TV. You know “The Real News Commentators of Washington DC.” Like those Jersey people or the ex-wives of the basketball players.
Then I found myself yelling at the TV. Sad but true. There I was sitting across from my innocent Sony yelling at the news panel. Even at the smiling pretty oh so earnest young black woman who no matter what the story is just really wants everyone to feel better. That’s right, I was yelling at Pamela or Louise or whatever her name is.
“What do you mean, six %?”
Then the guy who pretends he’s sort of from the left, says “Well, Pamela, I think the Democrats have to stand tall and fight for 3.4?”
And I’m yelling: “What do you mean, 3.4?”
I feel like I’m losing my grip on reality. I’m still yelling. “Are you kidding me? Are you pompous asses really going to sit there and pretend it’s OK to extort 3.4% interest from college kids who are paying 200,000 grand for a degree that’s hardly worth a tenth of what they’re paying?”
But Pamela is smiling at the guy who pretends to be from the left while the annoyed woman from the right starts talking about Obama and big government.
I can tell my Sony isn’t happy. She’d rather be watching “The Mentalist” or “The Good Wife.”
Am I the only one who wants to use the money we’re wasting on war and use it to send young people to school? For free.
I’ve lost my grip on reality.