Columns » Bob Lancaster

The sun also rises

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Mrs. Sen. Clinton has lashed out at spoiled and selfish young people and the spoiled and selfish young people, her girl included, have lashed back.

Our own resident young-person columnist cited some scholarly mumbo and statistical jumbo recently to show that it is Mrs.-Sen. C.’s generation, called the Baby Boomers, that’s the real villain here, not the X or Me or Beavis or Duh Generation, or whatever the slovenly doped-out little bastards are calling themselves these days.

I’m strictly neutral in this debate, believing that not a single praiseworthy or above-average generation has come forth since the 18th century, but I wanted to put in a brief kind word for the Boomers. I feel like I’m one of them, though I was born during the war, rather than in consequence of the giant postwar love-in that tried to make up for all that time squandered in combat.

I know from having been there and seen the thing that Baby Boomers didn’t screw up the world, as today’s youngsters and their apologists contend. We didn’t screw up anything. We inherited the screwed-upness from the previous generation, who were some real hard-asses who abused and victimized us mercilessly and scandalously, never mind some sawed-off newscaster coming along later to call them the Greatest Generation.

You know how just about everyone in the Baby Boom generation, from Mrs. Ken Lay on down, has proclaimed himself or herself the “real victim” of one of life’s little dramas? Well, it’s true. We’re all victims, as sure as O. J. Simpson was the real victim in his contretemps and all those priests were victimized by those squealer altar boys. From all the confessionals and comings-out, I assume that every single Baby Boomer was sexually abused, though the memory remains repressed in a dwindling few of us. And it was the so-called Greatest Generation that did it to us, that turned us every way but loose.

Let me tell you about this Greatest Generation.

They would whup you with a harness strap over the merest triviality — if you wrecked the car while drag-racing, say, or accidentally burned the house down with some faulty old bong — and if you said anything about it to the neighbors or authorities they’d lock you in the smokehouse for two weeks with nothing to eat but hay and whatever rodents you could catch in there.

They had some fixation about cleaning your plate, like forcing down some godawful Salisbury steak TV dinner was supposed to mean something to starving Oriental people. One time I remarked, Hell, the Chinese boy or girl would eat the tinfoil on this thing before they would the food, and it was back to the smokehouse for me. They’d whup me then, and I’m sure there must’ve been some sexual abuse and therapy or boredom or epiphany or empathy with some old episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims” will help me someday recover the memory of it.

Just for talking no nastier than the vice president of the United States does, they’d wash your mouth out with lye soap — none of this good tasting Lifebuoy or P&G, what would be the punishment in that? — and then put the same bar of soap in your school lunchbox for a week instead of a sandwich.

They’d make you rub stinky liniment on their stinky old feet. And if you refused it’d be a whupping and sexual abuse.

They wouldn’t let you shoot hardly anything worth shooting with the .22.

The story was, and I had no reason to doubt it, that if they caught you whanging Herman, or in the flagrant delicto itself, they could push you out the open passenger door of a speeding pickup and leave you limp and boogered-up in the weeds along the shoulder there with no questions asked.

There’s the debate going on right now about schoolchildren having to ride the schoolbus too long and too far. We didn’t have a bus: we only had an old horsedrawn flatbed, only instead of horses, they made us take turns pulling it. And you didn’t miss bus-pulling duty by pleading that you had some minor ailment, like your polio acting up. The Greatest Generation would have you out there harnessed up at sunrise and tell you, All right, with that polio, you might have to limp to get ’er done, but you WILL get ’er done. And then they’d whup you. And the sexual abuse.

If you got a beating at school, even by the asylum-certified psycho principal, you knew you were in for another one when you got home. With no Miranda rights or a chance to tell your side. Just the whupping. And sexual abuse.

The Greatest Geneation was the one that when they talked of holding our feet to the fire meant holding our real feet to a real fire. This was after they made us build the fire. They were always making us build fires, for no better reason than to heat the house or cook our food. They made us chop the wood beforehand and then dump the ashes. We had to chop cotton too. And churn. And castrate hogs. The list goes on and on. Never for any good reason, just the old generation thinking up cruel ways to bring our generation down.

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