Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Admit it -- wouldn't it have been
better if they had gotten married?
Sooner or later, everyone you enjoy, admire or vote for disappoints you. Black or white, Republican or Democrat, rocker or writer, it doesn't matter who you are. The people who give you the most pleasure, who can do no wrong in your eyes, pull a stunt that further erodes whatever faith you had in mankind. The list of people who have given me the ol' one-two would have crushed a weaker man. John marries Yoko. Clinton lies about That Woman. Giuliani bans beer from street fairs. And now Chris Christie and Bridgegate. Even if he had nothing to do with it, it's never a good thing when your name and "FBI investigation" are used in the same sentence.

I suppose it starts when you're a child. Your parents are icons of truth and security, the world is beautiful and life is an endless opportunity to grow, explore and have fun with. Over time, all these beliefs come crashing down to earth with the grace of the Fatty Arbuckle at a drunken orgy. The incident that smashed my daughter's rose-colored glasses into a million shards had to do with the time she asked me about the keratosis-thingy at the top of my forehead. "Oh, we were at the Bronx Zoo when you were a baby," I explained. "A lion tried to take a swipe at you, but I jumped in his way to protect you." 

At least this guy knows I was full of it.

She was about five or so when I served up this heaping dish of malarkey, and swallowed it like a ravished sea lioness. It was only fairly recently that she realized the patent falsity of the story, and called me on it. "You lied to me!" she said huffily, probably more angry at herself for have fallen for such a line in the first place.

"Any father would have said the same thing," I replied. "Besides, guys are gonna start feeding you even bigger lies than that, so you might as well have your guard up." Was she grateful that I was doing her a favor? What do you think?

Yes, the problem begins in childhood, but it continues forever afterwards. We insist on picturing our heroes as perfect creatures when they consist of feet of clay, hearts of ice and brains of ME ME ME. Expect the best! we shout at kids on a daily basis when, in reality, the best is a commodity as rare as an affordable truffle burger. It's time to set them straight in order to prepare them for the real future that lies ahead.

Something like this.
I call it the Limbo Effect: instead of that hoary "raise the bar" bromide, it's time to lower the bar. Tell kids, Despite what you may think, people you see on TV lie, break the rules, often break the law, and usually get away with it. I daresay there would be a dramatic drop in Prozac scrips for adolescents if they received that news early on. While you're at it, dampen their own self-expectations. Use yourself as an example. Instead of, You can be anything you want, what they ought to be hearing is, Life's a crapshoot. Look at me. You think I wanted to be a (fill in your occupation) when I grew up? You gotta be kidding! They'll thank you one day.

Nor did they think they were electing a guy
who eats pizza with a fork and knife.
As for New Yorkers who elected Bill de Blasio mayor, there will be much gnashing of teeth and weeping if circumstances force him to break his promises to raise taxes on the rich and replace horse-drawn carriages with antique-style electric cars. Bless their hearts, as Ann Richards would say. They believed him. That's the benefit of voting for the Libertarian, the sure loser, as I also did with Obama. While Obama's disciples thought he was something literally not of this world, I saw him for what he was: a Chicago politician. Am I disappointed about his lies regarding closing Gitmo, keeping our doctors, having the most transparent administration in history and never, ever hiring lobbyists to work for him? Of course not! I kept the bar low. Not Commie-Marxist-secret Muslim low, just Chicago politician-low. Which is pretty damn low.

You mean that he lost his job?
Because of my low standards, I wake up every morning with a song in my heart and a spring in my step. How can I otherwise when I expect the worst from everybody in show business, politics or the corporate world? I'm never disappointed. When I hear that a certain actor with a good-guy image is really a sarcastic SOB, I don't shake my head sadly and mutter, "But... but... he seems so nice on Letterman." No sir. Neither did I write an angry letter to the editor when reading that Warren Buffet laid off 700 workers from a Heinz Ketchup plant. And nor will I slink into a corner if Chris Christie goes to the candidate graveyard that swallowed up my other favorite might-have-beens like Jon Huntsman and Bill Bradley. I'll be too busy
doing the limbo rock. How LOW can you GO!


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