Your Reading List

The Jacksons

You don’t look happy dear,” Rose Jackson said, as her daughter Jennifer plopped herself down on her usual chair at the Jackson table. “What’s up?”

Jennifer rested her chin in her hands and stared at the tabletop for a while before she answered. “Who knows?” she said. “I’m a teenager. I’m supposed to be miserable sometimes, aren’t I?”

Rose smiled. “True enough,” she said. “There’s not many things in life worse than being a teenager.” She pushed her own chair back from the table. “You want some coffee? Maybe that’ll cheer you up.”

Jennifer sighed. “Sure,” she said. “Why not? I’m a teenager and school sucks and the weather’s horrible and there’s not a decent guy within 50 miles and crazy people just blew up the Boston Marathon, but I’m sure a cup of coffee will make it all better.”

“It can’t hurt,” said Rose. She got up and went to the kitchen counter where she took a mug from the cupboard and filled it with fresh, steaming brew. She walked back to the table and set the mug down in front of Jennifer. “Take a sip of that,” she said, “and then let’s solve the world’s problems, OK?”

Jennifer did as she was told. “Ah yes,” she said. “That IS good coffee.”

“That’s a start,” said Rose. “Now, tell me what’s wrong.”

“Well, for starters,” said Jennifer, “there’s too much news. It’s depressing. Crazy people bombing the Boston Marathon and whatnot.”

“Ah yes,” said Rose. “That is not a happy story.” She paused. “But,” she continued, “it makes me think of what one of the characters said last night on ‘Game of Thrones.’ He said, ‘sometimes, when I’m in the middle of a war, it helps me to remember that in 99 per cent of the world, absolutely nothing is happening.’”

Jennifer looked up at her mother, brightening perceptibly. “Seriously?” she said. “You guys watch ‘Game of Thrones?’”

“Uh, yeah,” said Rose. “Though I’m not particularly proud of it.”

Jennifer grinned. “I don’t know why that kind of cheers me up,” she said, “but for some reason it does.” She took another sip of coffee. “Personally, in ‘Game of Thrones,’ I’m just waiting for the dragons to grow up and fry everybody.”

“Which they definitely will,” said Rose. “It’s obviously just a matter of time. Really,” she added, “that show has way more violence and nudity and whatnot than I would normally watch but for some reason I got sucked into it and now I can’t stop watching. Which makes your father happy anyway, because he really likes it.”

Jennifer looked thoughtful. “Here’s a question,” she said seriously. “How come I can watch a show like ‘Game of Thrones’ and get all carried away by the story and the characters, and the blood and violence doesn’t bother me much, in fact it all seems kind of heroic. But the blood and violence in Boston just makes me ill. How does that work?”

“That’s a very good question,” said Rose.

“It is, isn’t it?” said Jennifer.

“Yes,” Rose repeated. “A very good question indeed.”

Jennifer laughed. “And one to which you clearly don’t have an answer.”

“Clearly,” said Rose.

“Maybe,” said Jennifer, “it’s because in a TV show it’s all about good versus evil and it’s easy to see who are the good guys and who are the bad guys and you never see the innocent people who get caught in the middle, but in Boston, it just seems like a couple of pathetic idiots who think killing children and innocent bystanders is somehow going to make something better. It’s so insane. Which is what makes it so depressing.”

“It does seem incredibly senseless,” said Rose.

“It makes me think the whole human race is just a really bad mistake,” said Jennifer. “We can make up stories where we’re all heroic and noble and stuff but in real life we’re all completely nuts.”

Rose thought about that for a moment. “You have a point,” she said, “but think about this for a minute. There’s almost half a billion people in the United States, and last week two of those people decided to plant bombs just to kill other people. But almost half a billion people didn’t plant bombs. In fact a whole lot of those people turned out to be unbelievably heroic and brave in the way they responded to the bombs. So maybe it’s not the human race that’s a mistake. Maybe the mistake is something else.”

“Well I hope somebody figures it out pretty soon,” said Jennifer.

“Me too,” said Rose. “And then we can move on to figuring out why there’s no decent guys within 50 miles.”

Jennifer laughed again. “I know why that is,” she said.

“You do?” said Rose. “Why is it?”

“It‘s because,” said Jennifer with a grin, “half of the human race IS a huge mistake.”

About the author

Rollin Penner's recent articles



Stories from our other publications