Tag Archives: maturity

How I Came To Respect Red Foreman From “That ’70s Show”

Time, age, and hindsight have a way of changing how you see things. The attitudes and perspectives you have when you’re 35 are bound to be different than the ones you had when you were 15. It’s just part of life, as you get older. The world is such a different place through the mind of a teenager than it is to an adult.

This manifests in many ways, but the one I’ve found most revealing has to do with the way I see old TV shows that I watched in my youth. Some shows age better than others. I recently citedChuck” as one of those rare shows that seems to get better with age. Most shows don’t get that benefit. Some age so poorly that there’s no way they could ever air today.

Thanks to the joys of being quarantined, I’ve had a chance to re-watch and re-visit some of the shows I loved in my youth. Shows like “Chuck” have only reaffirmed why I loved it so much. Other shows evoke a different reaction. One such show is “That ’70s Show.”

When I was a teenager, this was one of my favorite shows. In terms of TV sitcoms, it checked all the right boxes. It didn’t try to revolutionize the genre. It kept things simple, using 70s aesthetics and proven sitcom tropes to make an entertaining show. It never got too extreme. It never tried to cross too many lines. It just tried to have fun with a certain time period and a cast of colorful characters.

Most of the characters were lovable in their own right. My personal favorite was Fez. Some of the best lines in the show came from him. However, one character often stood out even more. In many ways, he was the show’s primary antagonist. He was Red Forman and when he wasn’t threatening to put his foot in someone’s ass, he was a frequent obstacle to whatever scheme the kids had conjured.

In many respects, any sitcom that involves a cast of teenagers needs a character like Red. He embodies the hard-nosed, uncompromising, uncool authority figure. Most of his roles revolve around stopping the kids from doing what they’re doing or punishing them as soon as they get caught. In that context, he’s easy to root against most of the time.

I certainly did when I watched the show in my youth. In fact, Red was one of my least favorite characters in the show because he was just such a hardass. He didn’t have any of the charm or likability as other sitcom dads. Al Bundy might have been a lousy dad, but at least he was funny. Red was rarely funny, his foot-in-ass remarks notwithstanding.

Then, after watching a few episodes recently, I found myself looking at Red Forman differently. I also saw the teen cast differently. While there were certainly times when Red was an unambiguous asshole, those times were a lot less frequent than I remember. In fact, I came to appreciate Red a lot more as I watched the show from an adult perspective.

In hindsight, it’s easy to understand why. When you’re a teenager, authority figures are often barriers to all the things you want to do. They’re the reason you can’t stay out late at night, drink beer, smoke pot, or hook up with your significant other. They enforce the rules that keep you from having all the fun you want to have. They’ll rarely explain those rules. It usually comes down to them being the parent and you being their kid.

This certainly plays out in “That ’70s Show” throughout many plots. I remember watching those same plots as a teenager and rolling my eyes whenever Red Forman got involved. Then, after watching them again, I found myself siding with Red and not just with respect to who deserved a foot in the ass.

When Eric, Fez, Kelso, Jackie, and Donna do something stupid, it’s rarely because of the rules or the authority figures who enforce them. More often than not, they do what they do by choice. They don’t think things through. They think about the consequences to their actions. They are, after all, immature teenagers in the 1970s. They’re more inclined than most to do stupid things for stupid, selfish reasons.

Red Forman may not be the best when it comes to helping them mature, but he’s not wrong for calling them out on it. Most of the time, they are on the wrong side of the dumb-ass equation. Their efforts to eat, drink, have sex, and avoid responsibility are all products of their own immaturity. Someone like Red needs to be there to remind them of that.

Is he the best father figure for helping teenagers navigate their immaturity? No, he isn’t.

Is he better than most of the bumbling dads who tend to populate most TV shows? Yes, he is and he’d kick the asses of most of those dads.

As a teenager, I had a hard time relating to Red Forman. As an adult, I can’t help but respect him. He is surrounded by a lot of dumb-asses and a wife who’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown every other day. The fact he hasn’t put his foot in more asses is a testament to his restraint.

If you need more proof, please see this series of clips. If you haven’t seen the show in a while, then you may find yourself remembering Red more fondly than you thought.

Red Forman may be a hard-ass. He’ll never be father of the year or the first person you invite to a party. However, in a world of dumb-asses, he’s a beacon of order. For that, he deserves our respect.

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Hard Life Lessons You Can Only Learn Later In Life

Life is full of hard lessons that can only be learned through hardship. Anyone who isn’t rich, beautiful, or well-connected understands that. You’re going to go through periods in life when it feels like fate, luck, and divine forces are conspiring against you. That’s not a good feeling. I understand that. It’s also a feeling that’s worth embracing.

I say that as someone who stagnated and stumbled through much of his teen years and early 20s. In terms of social skills and overall outlook, I was behind the curve longer than most. I’ve shared my various struggles from high school. I’ve also shared personal stories of major low points in my life. I don’t doubt that others have endured far worse, but the over-arching themes are the same.

When you’re young and inexperienced, you see the world a certain way. When you’re older and more experienced overall, you see it another. Time, perspective, and basic human psychology has that effect on most people as they live their lives. An unfortunate byproduct of that is there are some lessons that you can’t learn until you’re older.

That’s a sentiment I’m sure many teenagers hear on a regular basis. Some will roll their eyes and I don’t blame them. I probably did the same when I was that age. It’s also a message that most adults have a difficult time conveying because they have the benefit of hindsight. Make no mistake. Some lessons are only visible through hindsight.

For those who struggled as teenagers, like me, I imagine that’s not news to them. I also imagine there are many other lessons that weren’t obvious until many years later in life. My own parents have shared some of those lessons with me. I’ve tried to share those lessons with younger friends and relatives. It’s hard to get across. In some cases, it’s impossible.

Those lessons are still worth putting out there, if only to act as reminders through the filter of hindsight. Here are just some of the lessons that I’ve learned personally or seen in others. If you have others to share, please do so in the comments.

Lesson #1: The world doesn’t owe you anything and whining about it won’t change that.

Lesson #2: You can’t know how right or wrong someone is for you until you’ve spent more than a few years with that person.

Lesson #3: You never know for sure what you want to do with your life before and during puberty.

Lesson #4: A single failure won’t ruin your life if you learn from it.

Lesson #5: Every opportunity is a gamble, but you can control the odds to some extent through determination, work ethic, and talent.

Lesson #6: There are people in the world who are far smarter and capable than you’ll ever be, no matter how hard you work or believe in yourself.

Lesson #7: Convincing people to change their minds about anything is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do.

Lesson #8: It’s okay to be disappointed or upset, but at some point, you have to try to get over it.

Lesson #9: Like or not, having the right attitude can be the difference between happiness and misery.

Lesson #10: It’s just as easy to fall out of love as it is to fall in love.

Lesson #11: Habits, both good and bad, are difficult to break, but can be managed to some extent.

Lesson #12: People may be driven by basic needs, but are more complicated than you realize.

Lesson #13: It’s never too late to change your path or reinvent yourself, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be.

Lessons #14: Many of the things you think are important now won’t be important years from now.

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Why We Make (And Fail) New Years Resolutions

It’s that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about that time when people start making a list of all those who ruined their holiday and how they’ll get back at them. That time has already passed. It’s a new year. It’s 2017. That means we’ve all got a clean slate so to speak. We have a chance to shake off the burdens of 2016 and make 2017 better.

It’s that very sentiment that leads many to make New Years Resolutions. I’m definitely among that crowd. For most of my adult life, especially in recent years, I’ve tried to make New Years Resolutions that will help me improve myself, my life, and all those around me.

I know it sounds cheesy. Some might not even think it’s very sexy. I think it’s an important part of being an adult, finding ways to improve yourself. Isn’t improvement supposed to be sexy? Isn’t that why women get breast implants and why men smother themselves in aftershave? Call it whatever you want. Improvement on any level should be sexy.

I know I’m not alone in making these resolutions. Around this time of year, I notice a significant uptick in crowd sizes at the gym I go to. In fact, there have been some instances where the gym is so crowded on the first week of the new year that it’s hard to get a good workout in.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, as may be the case), those crowds tend to taper off. Usually by mid-February, the crowds are almost back to normal. I think that says a lot about New Years Resolutions and how hard they are to fulfill.

I think we’re all guilty of it at some point in our lives. We make a promise to ourselves to do better or be better in some capacity. Then, for reasons that aren’t always our fault, we fail. It’s sad. It’s frustrating. It can be downright demoralizing. Unless you’re rich enough to pay someone to meet your goals for you, it’s downright inevitable.

Why is this though? Why is it that so many people fail at New Years Resolutions? Well, some of that goes back to the “caveman logic” I’ve cited many times before on this blog. In some respects, our own evolutionary biology is working against.

This isn’t just a case of our brains being wired primarily for survival and reproduction. This is more a product of our brains favoring certainty over uncertainty. Back in the caveman days, not knowing where we would get our next meal, when we would hump our mate, or whether there was a hungry bear around the corner caused a lot of stress. We needed to feel stress so that we’d do something about it. That’s just the laws of nature.

Once again, the problem with our brains is that it still hasn’t gotten the memo that this is 2017. We’re not living in caves anymore. Our wiring still confuses the uncertainty surrounding our whole weight-loss resolution with the uncertainty that comes with not knowing whether a bear will steal the meat we gathered from our last hunt.

Being so crude and blunt, reorienting our brain is like trying to cut glass with a hammer. Technically, it is possible. It’s just not very precise. Our brains are wired to avoid the distress that comes with uncertainty. That’s why it’ll fight you tooth and nail when you try to change something in your life.

I know this because I certainly had to fight it when I pursued some of my resolutions. As I documented before, my efforts to get in shape did not happen overnight. I had to slowly work my way into a healthier mindset. It took time. It took patience. It took a whole lot of frustration as well, but I did it.

In some respects, I was lucky. I had some strong motivating factors behind that resolution, namely recent health issues that some close relatives endured. That, along with getting older, helped provide incentives that my brain just couldn’t work around. Those incentives have served me well, so much so that not exercising causes me distress.

This has been the key to a lot of my resolutions. It’s not so much that I make bold promises. It’s how I go about it. I try to work my new resolutions into a system of sorts. I’ve always been a very regimented person by nature. So when I want to do something, I try to fit it into a schedule or a system that I can live by. If possible, I try to make it as flexible as possible.

A lack of flexibility in setting a goal or a system is usually the first step towards failing. I don’t like to fail. That’s why flexibility is so important. Some of that actually comes from my parents, who made it a point to make everyone flexible to deal with the daily chaos of our lives. It worked when I was a kid. It works even better as an adult.

Now I’m not saying I’m an expert in helping you achieve your New Years Resolution. I’m as qualified to be a self-help guru as I am to be starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers. However, I’m not one of those late night infomercial scam-artists who will charge you a hundred bucks just to tell you what you want to hear. I prefer to keep things simple and practical.

I know my experiences with New Years Resolutions won’t work for everyone. My situation is wholly unique and it probably won’t work for everybody. I can definitely relate to those seeking a career in publishing or wanting to explore the world of superhero comics. I can’t exactly relate to those whose resolutions involve buying the perfect Ferrari or not getting mauled by a hungry cheetah.

So in the interest of not overplaying my hand or making light of the fact that I’m still an aspiring erotica/romance writer who has yet to accomplish many of his goals, I’ll try to keep my New Years advice simple and concise. It goes like this:

  • Take a moment to analyze your routine/system, how you go about your day, and how well it’s working at the moment
  • Highlight specific areas of that routine/system that has room for improvement and identify those areas as “blanks” that you can reorganize
  • Assess how flexible you are in your current routine/system and, wherever possible, try to improve that flexibility to the greatest extent possible
  • Set small, concise goals at first within the “blanks” and try to work it into your system
  • Do not try to pursue more goals than you can count on one hand at the same time
  • Be realistic and be willing to fail
  • Above all else, learn from your failures

There, that is Jack Fisher’s unofficial guide to pursuing your New Years Resolution. It’s simple. It’s free. You don’t need a guru charging you by the hour. You just need commitment, motivation, and a willingness to try, fail, and learn from those failures. In the long run, the successes will emerge in places you don’t expect.

Also, in keeping with my admission that I am as much an expert as I am a rocket scientist, I’ll cite another more comprehensive list from the fine folks at Psychology Today. The people on this site are likely more qualified than me to assess the intricacies of self-improvement. Their article “Why New Years Resolutions Fail” offers more in depth advice that I’m not qualified to give.

Whatever advice you choose to follow, I strongly encourage everyone to pursue a New Years Resolution. We should all strive to improve as best we can with what little time we have in this world. Why not start now?

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