Meme Tree

Meme Tree


Stories that travel in this direction, then that.

In 2015, at the height of its cultural cache, the unstoppable Internet sensation called "Deez Nuts" persuaded the undivided attention of David Hudson.

Hudson was the long-time principal of Linwood Holton Elementary School in Richmond, Va., where each of our three kids spent many genuinely formative days.

As relayed to me at the dinner table by our then-third grader, who originally heard the tale from a close friend, also a third-grader—of course, in the grand scheme of mediated communication this reliability quotient is only slightly higher than current White House press conferences—Principal Hudson strode assertively into the school cafeteria.

Known as much for his endless energy pushing kids toward whole-life success as for his authority-figure pose as for his impeccable fashion sense, which, more often than not, included an eye-popping bow tie, Principal Hudson alerted the lunching students that indeed he had an urgent announcement.

"Deez Nuts," he said, would no longer be tolerated as a form of response to a teacher's serious classroom questions regarding, say, mathematics or social studies.

I have it on good authority that the whole cafeteria erupted.

This fastidious administrator-of-a-man, typically keen to remind young, impressionable boys-to-men to tuck in their shirts while inside the building, had himself become un-tucked.

He had uttered a meme in order to stop a meme.

No one had seen it coming—especially not a bunch of 9-year-olds eating dessert first and trying desperately to open the string cheese.


I'm 99.9 percent certain the trees at Lake Anna State Park never saw it coming either.

Maybe they had smirked at the unbridled creation of Smokey Bear, that lovable protector of the forest.

Perhaps they had learned to concede the double-sided meaning of "tree hugger."

Maybe they applauded the social-commentary role of trees—or, at least, creatures resembling trees—in Tolkien's opus to the wondrous things inhabiting our world.

But, dear God, has it really come to this?

There it was, carved on a tree, alongside Jack's confessed love for Chloe and Kaitlin's hopes of forever with Eli.


These days, I suppose stopping a meme is like standing on the train tracks and holding up one hand as a locomotive comes barreling around the corner.

Meanwhile, in your other hand, your smartphone is capturing the moment and turning it into a cultural artifact.

Nothing you can say to yourself will be able to stop yourself.

Rosé Sympathizer

Rosé Sympathizer