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The Slice: And that’s how one cranky society is born

This whole thing with the hospitals not sharing birth notices anymore might produce a result no one anticipated.

People could start to wonder if Spokane is really as family-focused as it’s cracked up to be.

OK, in the near term, most newspaper readers might remember that the suddenly paltry lists of newborns reflect the fact that parents now have to report the blessed events themselves. But eventually people will forget. It will simply look like there aren’t many babies born here.

This could fundamentally change how this community views itself.

Think of it in terms of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing kid-friendly Bailey Park, maybe we’ll see soulless Pottersville.

Yes, I realize the actual birth rate will not have changed. You know what they say, though. Sometimes image is reality.

Admittedly, the truth of the old “great place to raise a family” boast has always been highly conditional. Still, it sounds good.

I mean, except for a few single people and those who would like more emphasis on foreign movies and international cuisines, a focus on family issues serves a community well.

But if people start getting the idea that this isn’t the baby factory it used to be, will we still claim that Spokane is Nipper Town?

And there’s something else.

Once Spokane residents start thinking that this isn’t a place that cranks out plenty o’ fresh youths, it’s a logical leap to a truly scary assumption. That is, well, there must not be a lot of you-know-what going on in Spokane.

Don’t make me spell it out. You know what I am talking about.

Do you want to live in a city that is known as a place that doesn’t, um, get busy?

I can think of only a few more troubling indictments.

Just imagine.

“Spokane? Oh, yeah. They have some nice parks and a few interesting buildings. But from what I understand, there’s not a lot of nyuk nyuk nyuk going on there.”

“Really? Well, what do people do there? Don’t they get sort of tense?”

“They compensate by voting against fluoride and blowing up rodents.”

Trust me. No one will check kindergarten enrollment figures to see if this is true. Once you have a reputation, it’s hard to shed.

And, of course, it almost goes without saying that shrinking the birth notices will deprive us all of a valuable snapshot of our community.

We’ll no longer have a handle on the percentage of new parents who are idiots, at least when it comes to choosing baby names. In addition, we won’t have a ready reminder of just how many young mothers will be going it alone.

We’re supposed to be in the middle of a great information explosion. But I guess it depends on what kind of information you’re talking about.

•Today’s Slice question: What would your dog say to the president’s new pet?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; fax (509) 459-5098; e-mail pault@spokesman.com. For previous Slice columns, see www.spokesman.com/columnists. Because of features section deadlines, The Slice is produced several days ahead of the publication date.

 
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