Last week I got to spend a good bit of time with Melissa's son Joe. He had driving school here in Little Rock and she was jammed up at work. So I picked him up everyday, got him fed and watered and took him home.
While I have spent a good bit of time with teenagers the last 3 years or so, I don't often spend a lot of solo time with anybody other than my nephews or my Godson. And while there were other things I could be doing, spending time with a 15 year old sure beat hanging around my house listening to the floor in my bathroom being torn out and watching dollar signs fly out the window.
As anyone who has been watching the news lately can glean, last week was pretty momentous. So I took the opportunity to pick Joe's brain about current events. Just to get the perspective of a young person about all of this.
Now Joe is a really good kid and his plenty smart just like his sister. He is refreshingly free of the narcissism you can find in teenagers in general and boy athletes in particular. I suspect that is due to the fact that he knows in his heart of hearts that his mom would kill him if started copping an attitude. And while we get along pretty well, our deepest and most animated discussions revolve around sports, particularly football and basketball. So this was the opportunity to change the subject. Besides, what was he gonna do? Walk back to Conway?
"So Joe," I asked him at lunch on Wednesday. " What you think about all this stuff with the Confederate flag?"
He munched on his sandwich. He shrugged his shoulders.
"It's disrespectful," he said. "I don't think they should fly it."
" Do you and the black guys you hang out with ever talk about this stuff?"
He gave me a blank look. He shook his head.
"No." He shrugged again and returned his attention to the feedbag he had tied on.
He was in class Friday while the Supremes were dropping the bomb over in DC. I asked him if he had heard the news.
"What news?" he asked.
"The United States Supreme Court ruled that state statutes banning same sex marriages are unconstitutional," I said.
Lunch arrived about that time so he quickly turned to the more pressing business at hand. After all, a man's gotta eat.
After he inhaled his chicken nuggets or whatever they were, I decided to press him a little.
"So what do you think about gay folks having the right to marry?" I asked as he loudly sipped through the straw.
"I don't care."
"What do you mean you don't care?"
"I mean they should be able to marry if they want to. I don't care."
A confused look crossed his face.
"Tell me again what happened today."
This happens in class sometimes. Joe, like a lot of kids I have the privilege of being around, is plenty smart. But he's 15. I forget this sometimes. As Huey Long once said, "You got to put the hay down where the goats can get at it." Even the smart goats.
"OK," I said as I backtracked. " The Supreme Court ruled that laws making same sex marriage illegal are unconstitutional. You know you have to get a license to get married right?"
"The Supreme Court ruled that states can't refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay folks just because they are gay."
He nodded his head. And that was that.
Besides, he wanted to talk about the NBA draft. Fine with me. We talked about basketball on the way back to Conway.
Mike Huckabee can threaten to call down fire from Heaven until he is blue in the face. Right wing pundits can bemoan the alleged eradication of "our heritage." The next generation just doesn't see it that way.
After all, it's pretty simple to young Joe. Flying the Stars and Bars is disrespectful. Gay marriage is no big deal. I suspect his views are pretty much in line with others in his peer group. Sure. Not everybody will agree with him. But I'm guessing his opinion is not too divergent from that of his associates.
And that's what won't change. And that's why things will never be the same.
It doesn't matter what Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz thinks. It just doesn't matter.