Reality check

“Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.”

That’s a mantra that the power-of-positive-thinking folks pushed on us, and I really bought into it. The idea is that if your brain believes something, your body makes it real.

It works just fine when you’re 15, and even when you’re 25 and probably 35. Because every day in every way, you really CAN get better and better. But then one day you wake up and you’re staring your 60th birthday in the face and every day in every way you are getting worse and worse. And that whole positive-thinking thing starts to look like a crock.

Merry Christmas!

These kids today

“But I tell ya, these kids today …” Comics have been starting bits with that line for a thousand years. Like this rant from Dave Barry: “These kids today don’t know how easy they have it, with their iPhones and their iPads and their atmosphere consisting of 21 percent oxygen and 78 percent nitrogen and 1 percent various other gases. When I was a youngster we didn’t have ANYTHING. We didn’t even have HAIR. We sat around naked in the cold, sucking on rocks for nourishment. But you never heard us complain, and by God we licked the Great Depression and won World War II. No, wait, that was our parents’ generation. But we faced challenges of our own. Junior year abroad, for example. That was no picnic.”

We interrupt this comedy sketch for the point of today’s bloggy thing: These kids today are smarter, faster and better than we were in every way. Well, maybe not EVERY way, but most. My son Brad and daughter Tara amaze me with their routine daily brilliance, and now I have GRANDCHILDREN who are smarter than me. And that fills me with joy. But enough of this maudlin crap, back to the comedy. This is from a Monty Python sketch with four old Yorkshire men sitting around having wine and one-upping each other:

“But you know, we were ‘appy in those days, although we were poor.”

“BECAUSE we were poor!”


“My old dad used to say to me, ‘Money doesn’t bring you ‘appiness, son!'”

“‘E was right!”


“I was ‘appier then and I had nothin’! We used to live in this tiny old tumble-down ‘ouse with great big ‘oles in the roof!”

“‘Ouse! You were lucky to live in a ‘ouse! We used to live in one room, all 26 of us, no furniture, half the floor was missing. We were all ‘uddled together in one corner for fear of fallin’!”

“You were lucky to ‘ave a room! We used to ‘ave to live in the corridor!”

“Oh, we used to DREAM of livin’ in a corridor! Would ‘ave been a PALACE to us! We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every mornin’ by ‘avin’ a load of rottin’ fish dumped all over us! ‘Ouse, ha!”

“Well, when I say ”ouse,’ it was just a ‘ole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin. But it was a ‘ouse to us!”

“We were EVICTED from our ‘ole in the ground! We ‘ad to go and live in a lake!”

“You were lucky to ‘ave a lake! There were 150 of us livin’ in a shoebox in the middle of the road!”

“A cardboard box?”


“You were lucky! We lived for three months in a rolled-up newspaper in a septic tank! We used to ‘ave to get up every mornin’ at six o’clock and clean the newspaper, go to work down ‘t the mill, 14 hours a day, week in, week out, for sixpence a week, and when we got ‘ome, our dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!”

“LUXURY! We used to ‘ave to get out of the lake at three o’clock in the mornin’, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, work 20 hours a day at mill for tuppence a month, come ‘ome, and dad would beat us around the ‘ead and neck with a broken bottle — if we were LUCKY!

“Well, of course, we ‘ad it tough. We used to ‘ave to get up out of the shoebox in the middle of the night and lick the road clean with our tongues! We ‘ad to eat half a handful of freezin’ cold gravel, work 24 hours a day at mill for fourpence every six years, and when we got ‘ome, our dad would slice us in two with a bread knife!”

“Right! I ‘ad to get up in the mornin’ at ten o’clock at night, ‘alf an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, work 29 hours a day down at mill and pay the owner for permission to come to work, and when we got ‘ome, our dad would kill us and dance about on our graves, singin’ ”allelujiah’!”

“Oh, ay. And you try and tell the young people of today that, and they won’t believe you!”

“No, no they won’t!”