My daughter starts high school next week at this stupefying place (you're only seeing about a quarter of Lane Technical College Prep High School; the camera hasn't been invented yet that can capture the whole thing).
Already, she's meeting some of her new classmates, who look her up and down coldly.
I thought to read her this excerpt from my book, Raised By Mad Men.
It's a late-1960s memo from my late dad, then creative director at Campbell-Ewald, to his copywriters.
All of us, as human beings, wear a protective cover or a kind of year-round Halloween mask to keep our nerve endings hidden, to keep our soft underside of hopes and needs and hang-ups, our fears, our pride and prejudices, our irrationalities and our cry buttons from hanging right out there in the sunlight for someone to push in or puncture. And it’s this paper-thin shell that confuses a lot of people in advertising. It’s this shell, when it comes in big sunglasses and long hair, that frightens a lot of us over thirty, and worse, fools us into thinking that it’s not just a shell at all, but a whole new and different kind of person in there. And if we hear the shell express some new idea or value—or speak or sing in some strange new language, we strain to hear what was said and try to play back our communication in the same way with the same words. We try, in other words, to communicate with the shell instead of the she or he inside. Which is why I believe a lot of our headlines come out smart-ass and punsy and shallow and completely without any persuasive logic based on even elementary psychology. …
I can assure you from personal experience that today’s young people, however sober, serious, callous, arrogant, flip, or freaked out they might appear on the surface, still cry quietly in the bathroom when a pimple appears at prom time, or when they feel unloved or unsure (which they really do most of the time) or threatened or confused by some of the problems that confront them. I believe that honor and justice and truth and logic mean as much to them as to you and me—maybe more. I believe that beneath the shell they are simply “young people” (and it’s important to pause between those words “young” and “people” to fully grasp what these two words mean), who, in the main, respond logically to logic, lovingly to love, and honestly to truth.
She shrugged impassively. I surreptitiously wiped a tear from my eye. And we went on about our day.