Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Flat Daddies and Mommies

I just cannot believe how utterly weird this concept is. It’s also very, vary sad.

Thanks to a Maine National Guard support group, families that are without their mommies or daddies because their unit got shipped off to Iraq or Afghanistan can actually get a life size cardboard cutout of their missing family member as a replacement! The flat family member can be put in the car so he or she can ride around with the kids (see picture in the linked Boston Globe story). The flat daddy/mommy can be placed in front of the living room window so that potential burglars will be frightened off. Flat daddies/mommies will never experience crushing depression after learning they face a fourth deployment in Iraq when they really thought they were joining the Guard to assist the community during a local flood and perhaps earn some extra money. And, of course, they will never drink excessively or become violent toward their spouse after returning from a horrendous situation that they refuse to talk about.

I wonder if any of the kids involved in actually having a flat daddy or mommy around the house will look back at it later in life and ask themselves, “WTF?!” I can understand how an absent family member who face a very real possibility of bodily harm really has the potential for tearing a family apart at the seams. But a cardboard cutout doesn’t seem to fit any definition of a rational action to take. Maybe it’s just me, but having a bunch of photos hanging on the wall seems normal. Those are reminders of an absent family member that you can place in prominent positions around the house. Having a life sized cardboard figure that you can take in the car with you seems really, really creepy. That isn’t meant as a reminder, it’s meant to be a substitute for something that can never have an adequate substitute; the missing family member back at home in good mental and physical health.

The flat daddy/mommy concept is not to be confused with Tom Friedman’s Flat World or any theater lobby prop of Luke Skywalker or Princess Leah.

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