'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
APOLOGY FOR A ‘SENIOR MOMENT’
“What were you thinking?!”
That’s how my daughter began her email message to me when she read my column a few weeks ago. In that column, back before Election Day, I implied that negative campaign ads on TV were very effective because senior citizens are gullible.
If you didn’t actually read the column, then surely you read about it’s aftermath, when hundreds of senior citizens surrounded my house—carrying pitchforks, torches, canes, and walkers—while shouting, “Kill the beast!”
Well OK, maybe an angry mob didn’t exactly storm my home, but a large number of angry seniors, led by Dee O. and her card-playing cronies, let me know in no uncertain terms that they were quite offended by my comments.
In my defense, I’d like to make two points: First, I never said senior citizens are gullible. In fact, in that column I specifically wrote, “Now, I’m not saying senior citizens are gullible.” Of course, after making that statement, I went on to describe senior citizens as being naïve and too quick to believe blatantly deceptive campaign commercials, but I never actually said the words, “Senior citizens are gullible.” (Gee, my explanation sounds a lot like a politician’s double-talk. I must’ve watch too many campaign commercials.)
The second point I’d like to make is that I did not actually write that nasty column. The column I really wrote that week extolled the virtues of our nation’s senior citizens, the decent, hard-working “greatest generation.” But at the last minute a sinister political operative broke into the newspaper’s offices and switched columns, inserting a counterfeit essay with my name on it. Yeah, that’s what happened. It was part of a last-minute smear campaign by my unscrupulous opponent, designed to make me look bad just before the election. Yeah, that’s it. (OK, now I’m sounding EXACTLY like a politician. I definitely watched too many campaign commercials.)
To be honest, my daughter’s question, “What were you thinking?!” is the real explanation. I wasn’t thinking. I started writing about deceptive campaign commercials, and recent stories of senior citizens who handed over their life savings to con men were fresh in my mind, and so I just focused on seniors as being the folks who actually believe all that political propaganda. It was dumb, and it was wrong, and I’m sorry.
(Notice that I said, “I’m sorry,” rather than what politicians say: “I’m sorry if my statement offended anyone,” which, if you analyze it closely, is not a real apology. Gee, at least when it comes to apologies I don’t instinctively act like a politician, so I guess there’s still hope for me yet.)
Another statement in my daughter’s email also shows I wasn’t thinking: “Pretty dumb, Dad, since senior citizens are the only people who read your column anyway.” Yeah, it’s not wise to insult one’s primary audience.
My daughter made one final comment that I didn’t exactly appreciate. She wrote, “You shouldn’t insult senior citizens, Dad, because you ARE one now.”
Hey, wait a minute, I thought, I am not! But then, just to demonstrate that there is cosmic justice, on the very day the column appeared in the newspaper, I received in the mail the first of what has turned into an avalanche of literature from AARP. Yep, somehow they found out that I’ll be turning the big 5-0 in a few months, and now they’ll never again let me delude myself into thinking that I am still young.
Oh well, at least now I can get a discount on canes and walkers—not to mention pitchforks and torches.
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