I didn’t have to travel the globe to understand the nature or depths of my cynicism. All I had to do was sit on my couch, flip on the television and watch an hour-long ABC special on how Michael J. Fox, a man crippled with Parkinson’s Disease, looks at life every day with hope and optimism. On the other hand, I feel I am cursed with the dreaded Ripa Luck anytime things don’t go according to plan: sleeping through my alarm clock on the day of an important meeting, running into a co-worker while the girls are in meltdown mode, a flat tire on my “in town” car or missing a connecting flight.
To put things in perspective, I am just waiting for the phone call from Jenn saying, “you’ll never guess what happened” the day after we receive a sizeable tax refund in the mail. In years past, it has been a crack in the bathtub or a busted water heater. This time around our prospective trip to the Happiest Place on Earth got rerouted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center with Jenn having gallbladder surgery.
99.9% of the people who tuned in to see Michael J. Fox interview people from all walks of life about the optimism they possess experienced a renewing of spirits and a sense of hope. I guess you can consider me the outcast 0.1% because I felt a twinge of guilt along with some bitterness towards Fox.
The bad taste in my mouth has nothing to do with Alex B. Keaton, the former Young Republican, pulling an “Arlen Specter” by flip flopping politically due to his interest in stem cell research. It hurts me that I felt this way after watching the special because Michael J. Fox has had a special place in my heart ever since Marty McFly hopped into that DeLorean DMC-12. Fox was a huge part of my childhood and with me when I grew into a man. When special changes began happening to my body, I was able to narrow down the cause to the onslaught of puberty or that I was secretly a werewolf thanks to watching Scott Howard surf on a van in Teen Wolf.
I could pass on Spin City, but when he made a cameo appearance on not only my favorite sitcom (Scrubs), but its’ greatest episode ever (My Porcelain God), the respect grew for Michael J. Fox. The admiration factor reached an all time high level the day I realized he was the voice behind Stuart Little, which is a DVD that allowed me a moment of sanity by occupying the girls’ attention on a busy afternoon.
The peak of my frustration came when Fox met with doctors and scientists to give us a better understanding on the nature of optimism. According to their research, they stated that some individuals are more predisposed to be optimistic. Lucky ducks. They cannot help but feel optimistic. It’s just the way they are wired. Somewhere in their DNA they have hopeful genes.
If we are to accept these findings as truth, than would one be correct in reasoning that there is a recessive gene that sparks pessimism? Are you telling me people can be cynical by nature? Does that mean I am off the hook when those two special words “just figures” roll out of my mouth. After bad knees, poor vision and high cholesterol, my DNA might finally be paying off. It’s about time. Just figures.