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It's Not My Fault

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My generation is unjustly criticized. We starve public education while lavishing monies on ourselves. We burden our grandchildren with debt to pay for our Social Security and Medicare. The New York Times labeled us "self-centered, self-seeking, self-interested, self-absorbed, self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing."

This is true. But it's not our fault. The fault lies with our parents' generation. Most of what they taught us was nonsense.

We were warned not to swim for an hour after lunch since this would precipitate violent cramps and probably drowning. We were also warned that one contacted polio in public swimming pools. (Whether this was due to drowned children at the bottom of the pool with half eaten hot dogs I no longer remember.)

Mothers beseeched daughters to wear clean underwear. Why? Because if they were in accidents doctors and nurses would be offended by dirty drawers. Think about it. At age 15 you learn that your own mother can live with you becoming a paraplegic so long as you wore clean panties when losing both legs. It is wonder that anyone from my generation can function at all.

Finally, our parents betrayed us by throwing away our collections of comic books and baseball cards. Had they kept these we would all be rich and have no need for Social Security. If my daughters had collected Keith Haring's and Jean-Michel Basquiat's graffiti paintings, I would not have said, as did my parents about my comics and baseball cards, "These are amateurish and artistically inferior works. I shall throw them away." Regarding the Harings and Basquiats I would have said, "These are amateurish and artistically inferior works. I shall retain them for someday there will be Haring and Basquiat swap meet where these works might command up to $10 each."

Everyone in authority lied to us: Eating oily foods, especially French fires, caused acne. The whitest wash on the block was the pinnacle of female achievement. Coffee stunted your growth but smoking cigarettes was good for you; people dressed as doctors on TV said so. Masturbation inevitably caused insanity. Carrots were good for your eyes but reading in the dark ruined them.

Ordinary school desks would protect us from nuclear blast, radiation and fallout. America was secure because the godless Communists manufactured shoddy school desks. Later we were deceived about reefer madness, turning the corner in Vietnam and the light at the end of the tunnel.

My generation is confused. In our youth, we were taught to fear godless Communists. Now authorities tell us to fear godful terrorists. I guess the only people we can trust are those that practice a religion but don't take it seriously. So we can trust Episcopalians, Unitarians and some Presbyterians. But not Catholics. They tend to take this religion thing too far.

Talk about being lied to, I was raised as a Catholic. In eighth grade Sunday school Sister Mary Catherine told us about a good Catholic boy who always said his prayers, seldom sinned and went weekly to confession and mass. But one day his non-Catholic friends convinced him to skip mass and drive to the Jersey shore. According to Sister Mary Catherine he was killed in a car accident and went straight to Hell.

I raised my hand and asked, "Sister, how do you know he went straight to Hell?"

She sent me to see Father Madden. No one wanted to be sent to Father Madden because he was a priest who was not afraid to talk to the young. He told me I had to take certain things on faith.

Figures of authority demand that I take on faith that we worship a God who condemns a near-perfect teenager to eternal damnation for one miscue and you wonder why I am screwed up?