I, a Senile Old Man, Yearn for the Simpler Times of My Horrible and Confusing Childhood

It’s hard to know what you can trust anymore. There’s the news, but now there’s also the fake news. The same thing can happen and, depending on which TV channel or homeless person you get your news from, you’ll get a different version. When I was a boy, there was only one channel; its name was We’re the Only Channel. We got our news from it and it was the real news. That’s how they’d sign off every night: “This was the real news, ladies and jellybeans”. They were simpler times, before the modern “funny” joke was invented.

Back then, you could trust the government. Lyndon Johnson, or President Lyndon Johnson, as he was widely known, sent me off to fight in the Vietnam War at the ripe age of nine. We lost some good children, but they lost some bad communists, so that’s ok. At least that’s what Mr. Johnson told me right before he took my wallet so he could pay to bring the boys back home. Only a true patriot would do something so rotten to help his country. 

The modern government isn’t so trustworthy. I heard they impeached the same president twice! I don’t know why they made him president again after they impeached him the first time, but then again “there are a lot of things I don’t know.” That’s what the tax man said when he took my wife from me.  That’s when Reaganomics came along, when the tax man started taking everyone’s wives.

Things were so much simpler when I was a kid. We used to play in the street until the streetlights came on. I can still hear the neighbors in their cars, honking and yelling “get out of the street, we can’t drive with you in the street!” Now, you hardly ever see any kids filling the streets with joy and danger and angry honks. I guess those neighbors finally won.

In school, we used to learn one version of history. You knew it was the real history with no malarkey because the textbook was called “Real History with No Malarkey.” Now, there’s all kinds of different versions of history. How are the kids supposed to know what happened and what didn’t happen? Did we evolve from monkeys, or were we designed by them? Was Christopher Columbus a hero, a villain, or a shared illusion? All I know is that I asked my grandson what he was doing on Columbus Day and he told me there was no Columbus Day and it was Indigenous People’s Day now, so I told him that there was no Santa Claus. I thought if I was old enough to know that there was no such thing as Columbus Day, then he was old enough to know that there’s no such thing as Santa. Well, we both were crying, so I guess neither of us was old enough.

That poor kid, he’s all mixed up because the world is so topsy-turvy. Sometimes he’ll say cruel hurtful things, like “that’s racist, Grandpa”, or “that’s sexist Grandpa”, but he doesn’t realize that I grew up in a time where there weren’t any minorities or women in America. It was an “old boys’ club”, as they say. Someday, he’ll be an old man, leering at women and complaining about immigrants at the Cracker Barrel, and he’ll wish he could apologize to his old Gramps. He won’t be able to, though, because by then I’ll be so rich that I’ll never speak to him or anyone else ever again. You see, if there’s one thing that’s been constant in this ever-changing country, it’s that the rich don’t have to do anything they don’t want to. I suppose that’s what makes America so great.

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