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'Happy Clappy' in Amsterdam—or Keeping Cool in The Face of Multiple Crises

Sex in schools, breakfast on a stick, erotic massage parlors—something's very wrong in our communities.

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head that just won’t go away? It rarely happens to me. For me, it’s not songs but random phrases that I don’t understand.

I allow these mysterious phrases to persistently punctuate my soliloquy every now and then. If they don’t wear themselves out, I turn to Google in search of the actual definition.

My phrase of the week is “happy clappy.” I’m not sure where I picked it up. Once again, its definition is not what I hoped—it is derogatory, so I can’t really use it aloud.

Here's what I wish the term meant:

hap•py clap•y: adj. To put on a smiley face in spite of uncomfortable circumstances.

For the rest of this column I will use my own definition of happy clappy. Here goes: During this un-spring like cold and wet weather, I have been doing my darndest to appear happy clappy, especially since Mr. Fancy has encountered a series of difficult and/or technical challenges in our business, which has made him less than his usual cheerful self. This has made me accept the role of happy clappy parent instead of my more studied, moody and unpredictable character in our ongoing household drama.

It is tax season and once again I cannot figure out how we can possibly owe the government any more money. We’ve cut cable TV, dumped the second car and the whole family would be naked if it weren’t for hand-me-downs, yet Uncle Sam still thinks I need to cough up more greenbacks. Happy happy clappy clappy.

To top it off, I now hear that Eagle Rock is becoming the next Amsterdam, which would save vacation expenses if I were a college kid on spring break, but is no help at all when trying to raise young ones. 

Just yesterday, while on my morning walk, I rounded the corner and stumbled upon a scene of teen romance. Let me tell you, human reproduction it is not pretty up close. But, wearing my happy clappy persona, I took the moment to chat with these kids. After all, I didn’t want to be unfriendly. 

“Good Morning. How’s it hanging?” I asked. “Dillon, what kind of protection are you using there? You know how important it is to be protected.”

“Brenda, my dear, do you really think this guy loves you? What kind of husband is he going to make? He can’t even conjugate a verb and he’s flunking algebra”.

For some reason, Brenda and Dillon left before we had finished our little chat. How un-happy clappy of them.

I was so happy clappy that my own little kids hadn’t been there to witness that Wild Kingdom moment that I did a little jig the rest of the way home. Maybe it was actually a reel—I always get my folk dances confused. 

But then I started thinking of the times my kids and I have walked out our front door to find teenagers on our curb smoking their “medicine” or spray-painting their “art.” How much more Amsterdam can I expose my kids to? (Here my jig turned more into a dirge. It’s hard to be happy clappy to a dirge.)

The latest news, as reported in last Thursday’s Los Angeles Times, is that LAUSD is trying to bring room service to classrooms through the No Kid Hungry program. Evidently, the current Before-School Free Breakfast program is not reaching enough kids, so they're starting to serve breakfast to kids during class. Imagine frosted flakes, strawberry milk and “Breakfast on a Stick” served on a cart, right there during first period. (Yes, Breakfast on a Stick is a real food from LAUSD). 

In a nutshell, according to the head of an anti-hunger organization quoted in the Times story, $1 billion in federal money is being "left on the table.” The LAUSD’s solution seems to be to try to get more children to eat institutional food during class time. 

I know life is tough for a lot of us, but a dozen eggs, a box of cereal, a gallon of milk and a bunch of bananas will set a family back less than $10 a week. At a time of drastic budget cuts, can’t we find a better way to spend those billion dollars—such as on teachers’ salaries?

At least Brenda and Dillon won’t have to worry about cooking for their child. They can just drop her off at school—after all, LAUSD serves up as many as three meals during school time. (Snack, which happens between breakfast and lunch, is breakfast all over again—for those who didn’t get enough Frosted Flakes the first time around.)

Maybe if we fired a few more teachers, LAUSD could even afford to put some cots in the library so children could sleep there all night. That would make it so much easier on us all. Parenting can be such a drag.

I know I’m preaching to the choir. But parents, please don’t send your kids to school hungry. Read to them. Help them with their homework. Hug them. Teach your girls they deserve better than cutting class to “entertain” their male classmates.

Finally, I hear that as many as 26 erotic massage parlors in and around Eagle Rock are hiring. Maybe Brenda and I can get jobs there. I can try to pay my bills to Uncle Sam and Brenda can start saving for college. Maybe our lives will become even more happy clappy.

Severin Martinez March 29, 2011 at 03:33 AM
I wish we were more like Amsterdam from a transportation standpoint, our streets are much more dangerous to all and less pleasant for cyclists/pedestrians. And I understand the want for a sensational title but I linked this article to a native Dutch living in downtown Amsterdam to which he responded "if replicated, crime, drug use would be low & general well-being very high... And you'd have a kindergarten in the middle of the Red Light District. Oh, those pesky myths :) " No hard facts are cited in his brief response, but perhaps things aren't as bad in Amsterdam as we hear?
Peter Choi June 22, 2011 at 11:33 PM
Re the massage parlors, get hired there and your lives will be more clappy than happy...

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