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This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandchildren (who exist), and my great-grandchildren (who don't) — the Stickies — to haunt them after they become grups or I'm deleted.
This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens Perusal by kids, callowyutes, and approximately 39.9% of all grups may result in a debilitating intersectional triggering.
Erratically Appearing Hallucinatory Guest Star: Dana — A Gentlerreader
"... and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."
[Gentlereaders: Mr. Mehlmauer is still in Washington D.C. Although he's no longer scheduled to testify at the Donald's impeachment inquiry he remains in town to do a bit of, um, consulting work for the FBI but expects to return this week. What follows is a new and improved version of a column originally published 8/12/15.]
George Carlin and his famous seven dirty words that you can’t say on TV routine literally changed the world. Mr. Carlin’s routine was, and still is, a comic masterpiece. However, it's a perfect illustration of one of my generations — Boomers, OK? — more unfortunate tendencies: tossing the tot out with the Jacuzzi water.
We Baby Boomers grew up in an era of unprecedented affluence and scientific advances. We took this for granted; we thought this was normal.
Although we studied history in some form or fashion, at least in theory, all through grade school and high school, for most of us the water off a duck's back metaphor applied. Then as now, as always I suspect, anything that happened before we were born was ancient history.
Even if the Greatest Generation (my parents) and the Silent Generation that followed had made a more determined effort to keep our feet on the ground it probably wouldn’t have done much good.
They were our parents.
Most parents are wired to want the best for their kids, even parents that turn out to not be very good at being parents. Most parents will continue to want the best for their kids, even the kids that turn out to not be very good at being human offspring and opt for the high functioning chimpanzee track.
Most parents think (hope) their kids are special and continue to tell them so, even once they realize their kids may be as flawed as they are, or even more so.
The Greats and the Silents thought the Boomers were special. They were amazed, and grateful, to be sharing a reality with us that was in many aspects even better than the dreams that had sustained them through the Great Depression and the Second World War.
They told us we were special and that we had at least the potential to accomplish things they couldn't even imagine. After all, America put men on the moon less than a decade after JFK made it a national goal, clearly, the future was so bright the sunglasses industry wouldn’t be able to keep up with demand.
I wish they had told us more about how lucky we were. I wish my parents had told me more about what the Depression and the Second World War had been like for them personally... although I probably wouldn't have paid much attention.
But if you were lucky enough to come of age taking food, clothing, shelter and oh, I dunno, antibiotics for granted? bread lines and fighting a world war that we could’ve lost resulting in enslavement if you were lucky death if you weren’t, is like, hard to relate to man.
Thanks, mom and dad but look at all the stuff that's still wrong with the world, you need to get out of the way, we've got a utopia to build and we're in a hurry. We need to blow up a lot of the goofy beliefs you hold that are standing in the way of us establishing heaven on earth.
For example, words are words, why are you so uptight about words?
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Which brings us to "dirty" words and tot tossing. Words, obviously, are symbols. The word tree is not a tree, it's a label.
If we were to decide that tree spelled backward, eert, was a better label and this new word caught on with our fellow speakers of English, trees could become eerts. The superfluous e would probably fall off in short order.
Words are just words Mr. Carlin assured us. Hunny look! ain't doze erts budafull?
Words are the building blocks of language, language enables the networking of human minds, the networking of human minds enables us to survive, with a touch of style, in a reality that is, as you may have heard, "...solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."
Words, their meanings, and how they are used are important in the same way that the composition of building materials, and how they are assembled, determines whether your home is a hut or a house.
Words have power. How much, and what kind of power, depends on their context and meaning.
How you use words supplies the context and shapes the meaning. I've been known to use the phrase, what the hell. I've also been known to use the phrase, WTF. I use the world-famous acronym WTF here because I respect the power of the f-bomb and because the acronym works better within the context of this essay.
When profanity is no longer profane, when "dirty words" are just words and everything goes (don't be judgy!) Moynihan's "defining deviancy down" becomes a race to the cultural bottom.
When there's nothing left to measure yourself against or rebel against nihilism and despair spread faster than fake news on social media.
If words are just words why is the psychic shrapnel from F-bombs tossed by tots more lethal than the psychic shrapnel of F-bombs tossed by truck drivers? Why do we want to toss the tots into a Jacuzzi and wash their mouths out with soap?
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