Is "The Ides of March" the day Julius Caesar was assassinated, a famous Shakespearean quote, or a George Clooney movie?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: The answer is "all three" but we'll completely understand if "The Ides of March" means nothing to you, or if you think it sounds familiar but you're not quite sure why.
Well, Black knew nothing about the Ides of March, but when she found it had to do with history and movies, deferred to Red. Interestingly, even Red, the straight-A student who loved history, wasn't completely sure of the origin of the Ides of March. However, being a theater major, she knew "Beware the Ides of March" was one of William Shakespeare's most famous phrases. And even then, although she could tell you that those immortal words were spoken to Julius Caesar by a fortune-teller, she couldn't tell you exactly what they meant other than it was a warning that something dire was going to happen. (For those not familiar with the play or ancient history, dire's an understatement as on March 15, 44 B.C. the Roman general and statesman, Julius Caesar, was brutally stabbed to death in the Roman Senate house by a large group of his opposition.)
Those facts alone make for fascinating theater, and Shakespeare was an unparalleled playwright and could tell a story better than most, which explains why his work has stood the test of time. (Not to mention, many of his stories have been "borrowed" as the basis of new stories.) But it took Red doing a little more digging to learn that the term dates back to the ancient Roman calendar, where they used certain phrases to reference dates in relation to lunar phases. Ides, quite simply, just referred to the first full moon of a given month, which usually fell between the 13th and 15th.
But when it comes to the 2011 movie "The Ides of March" with George Clooney (who also directed, produced, and was one of the screenwriters), Red didn't have to do any homework. And although it's about a rising presidential candidate (played by Clooney) and an idealistic campaign staffer (played by Ryan Gosling), it's about dirty politics and figurative backstabbing. So, if you know your history, you can easily draw parallels to the death of Caesar.
As voters, should we care whether people on the ballot are mentally capable of holding the job?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's probably safe to say that most of us, including Red, think of old age and its implications in a very personal way, either in terms of ourselves or loved ones. But not Black, who often says, "Aging beats the alternative," and looked at retirement from a business perspective, but now sees how it impacts all of us in terms of elected officials.
Recently, Bill Cassidy, a physician and senator (Republican from Louisiana), stated how he "favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government," explaining that it has nothing to do with politics or partisanship, or even any specific individuals. It's simply because once you reach your 80s, there can be rapid decline in your cognitive abilities. It's just a fact of life.
Red, the lover of history, understood the point, especially as it seems that many elections, and certainly presidential ones, have tried to make age an issue. Of course, the stated arguments are a function of whether you're the older candidate or the younger one. And although she's always thought it was a question of the specific person, not the date on their birth certificate, Red felt no one summed it up better than Ronald Reagan (73) when running against Walter Mondale (56),
I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.
In all seriousness, although we have very different perspectives (especially as Red's the one dealing with our 93-year-old mom), it does come down to the individual. There's no "right" or "wrong" age for retirement, and many of us know "older" people who can run, sometimes quite literally, circles around "younger" people. Age is a mindset as much as it's a number.
But when it comes to government leaders, shouldn't we be confident they're physically and mentally capable of the job? Mandatory cognitive tests for aging leaders make perfect sense. They're clinical and non-emotional gauges and are no different from medical tests recommended for people as they age. Except these leaders are making decisions that impact us all, and as Black sees it,
In Washington D.C., the Department of Motor Vehicle's drivers' license renewal process requires drivers over 70 to have their physician certify their physical and mental competence. So, it would seem that would be a reasonable requirement for leaders who decide the direction of our country.
How do you look back at the "good 'ole days" if they happened before you were even born?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We read the same Axios story about "TikTok's nostalgia economy," and although the focus was "media trends" due to younger people using social media to both make fun of older people and also to flashback nostalgically, of course, we focused on very different aspects of the story.
Red smiled at the idea of Gen Z (she knew they were "much younger" than us, but until she asked Black didn't realize they were born between mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s), looking backward toward brands she actually recognized, like The Gap for something as basic as hoodies and Abercrombie & Fitch for jeans out of the 1990s. Which made her laugh as some Gen Zs hadn't yet even been born! But what gave her a warm feeling was the idea of them wanting slower, less chaotic times. And maybe even less technology, something she could totally relate to.
Black, meanwhile, was fascinated by how TikTok algorithms work and how it makes it easy for flashback items to "reappear" and then quickly go viral. But she was also relieved to see John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, tweet that over 50% of Gen Z (and over 60% of all) polled thought life was better without social media. So, maybe there's hope of returning to a simpler time.
Which makes us both nostalgic (not something Black typically experiences), but also makes us realize that whether fashion (and the resurgence of thrift stores) or even music, at some point, "everything old is new again." And can be traced back to the Bible …although Red prefers this entertaining scene from "All That Jazz," an award-winning musical from 1979.
Want good customer service? Good behavior is a good start.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We grew up hearing the expression "the customer is always right," and Red certainly agreed with it; and while Black understood the customer service aspect of it, she did question its impact on employees (why would you "automatically" side with a customer over an employee without knowing the details). And that was before the pandemic changed everything, but especially customer behavior.
Until recently, Red didn't think much about why the customer was "always right," but it reminded her of years ago when Black shared her amusing (or, at least, to Red) version of the Golden Rule, "He who has the gold, rules. "So, wouldn't that also apply to customers? Wouldn't a happy customer be a loyal customer?
As much as Black wanted to get into all the reasons why the cliché of the customer always being right didn't make sense, or even that the concept evolved into focusing on positive customer experiences (the pandemic has resulted in some positive changes and trends), she realized that customers' combative behavior is hurting us all, so what needs to be said is,
I get it. Everyone, myself included, is tired of the pandemic and the associated "politics". Emotions are running high, and tolerance and patience are running low. However, none of that is an excuse for rude or aggressive behavior. The customer is not only not always right. But, can be flat-out wrong. Full stop.
Of course, Red, although not trying to minimize the impact of Black's statement, couldn't help but think of a scene in a movie (a car-related one, no less),
One of my favorite scenes from "Ford vs. Ferrari" is when a rather rude and obnoxious customer tells Christian Bale's character (who's British) that "in this country, the customer is always right" and Bale replies, "yeah, bunch of nonsense."