The old age home looks the same as it has for the past twenty years. My parents wondered why we stuck them here so soon; “Seventy isn’t old!” they said. But they sure looked it. Flabby, gray, wrinkles everywhere. No muscle definition. Always wearing masks.
“Have you seen the price of home care?” we told them, my sisters and I. “And you two with your history of heart disease and diabetes.”
“We get our shots though,” dad said. “Every month, we get them.”
The economy is—”
“You’ve been using that excuse for decades!” mom protested.
“That’s because it’s been fucked for decades,” I said. I regretted the expletive. Swearing is gauche and something they do, not me. I deserved my sisters’ withering looks. God will forgive me this curse—at my parents, no less—I hope. But sometimes I just can’t help it.
I will have to pray on it. It is good I taught myself how to pray, because my parents sure didn’t teach us. But they taught me to think I was a girl when I was three because I took one of Susan’s Barbie’s behind the couch to check out its plastic nipple-less breasts and smooth, flat crotch. Hormone therapy. Dresses and long hair. Make-up. Mom bragged about her three daughters in the faculty lounge, and dad could tell all his weird coworkers at the food coop how he understood their struggle.
My cock still doesn’t work right from all the shit I was taking for seventeen years, but at least I still have it. Thank God for small favors.
Susan and Barbara and I never tell mom and dad that we’re actually all doing really well. They’re both stay-at-home moms, and I’m a self-employed graphic designer who can support myself. Between the three of us, we could probably keep mom and dad at their house with in-home care.
But COVID, you know.
Every fucking day for years we had to wear a mask everywhere. We couldn’t do normal things like play with other kids or run around the toy store. All other human beings were viewed as vectors for disease. The plague. The shots.
Oh, the shots.
I had my first heart attack at age nine. I had my last one when I was eighteen and was old enough to refuse the boosters.
I’m older now. So are mom and dad. I’m surprised they’re still alive. Still with the masks. We don’t need them anymore—by law, that is—but they still have those useless pieces of cloth over their faces like they’re goners if they inhale our death breath.
“You ungrateful little shits,” mom hissed as we stepped into her and dad’s suite. It was clean and organized, the walls covered with old political posters advocating for the fad causes of their day: rainbow flags representing “Minor Attracted Persons’ Rights,” BLM, Antifa. My dad’s desk was covered with tchotchkes from Marvel movies and other bits of pop culture ephemera. Lots of stupid ugly-looking cartoons that I guess were made by adults to appeal to kids but really appealed to other adults. I didn’t see a single book.
“What’s the big deal?” Barbara said. “This place is like paradise.”
“All of our friends are dying,” said mom. “Dying! We’re going to be next! We can’t die unless you pay for the treatment!’
“No more,” I said firmly. “That’s enough, mom. You and dad are in your nineties and you still have pink hair. Grow up. We’re not gonna keep shelling out money for you to live to be . . . what? Two-hundred?”
“Why not, Dan?” dad chimed in. “After all we did for you ungrateful fucks—”
How I burned to get into it with dad, about how the reason we’re supporting them is because he and mom were so awful with money, with foresight, with any type of planning beyond what movie they wanted to see or food they wanted to eat or political march they wanted to drag us to. Which one of their weird freak friends they’d leave us alone with. They left us with nothing but emotional scars that dwarfed the physical ones. Neglect is a bitch.
Susan, ever the peacemaker, kept me from swearing further. “This is the last time we’ll see you guys. This is it. You’re on your own now.”
“Keep your snarky little comments to yourself, you pathetic Bible-thumping housewife!” mom snapped. Her insult bounced off of Susan. She had built up a thick skin after a lifetime of verbal abuse. You should have heard mom when Susan and Barbara told her they actually weren’t sexually attracted to girls.
“The caretakers here, Dan?” dad said to me. “The new ones . . . they don’t even speak English. How are we supposed to tell them what we want? What if we get sick? And lots of them are mean. So mean. Look at these bruises!” He lifted his shirt up and pointed to some red marks on his side that looked like bed sores to me. “Don’t you care? Well? Aren’t you gonna say something?”
“This is the world you created,” I said. “Now you get to live with it.” I twirled my fingers and motioned to the door. Susan and Barbara followed. The door shut behind us with an unnaturally loud snick, the kind they artificially engineer so neurotic women are sure the door is closed without having to actually bother to get up and check.
I heard that mom and dad died two months later. Oh well. Susan and Barbara went to the funeral without me. I told them, “Don’t bother to give my regards.”
* * *
Generational warfare is nothing new. It did not start “in the 60s.” It was not the fault of “The Boomers.” Every young person rebels against their mothers and fathers.
The cycle of rebellion is natural: a period of youth gone wild, followed by acceptance and maturity, closing with forgiveness between parent and child. Not every single person follows this path, but enough do that the generational reconciliation is a feature and not an aberration.
What we can state happened with the Boomer, and late-Silent generation to be fair, is that the younger cohort did not forgive the older. The hatred of everything associated with one’s parents and grandparents was never overcome. The adults refused to grow up.
The consequences of this have been a disaster for the United States.
Tradition must be mocked and spit on. Old age is the enemy. Never trust anyone over 30. Free love. Cast off the shackles of religion. And so on.
What did the parents of Silents and Boomers do to make their children reject them so thoroughly? I suppose the easy answer is that they gave them the greatest economic prosperity and personal liberty the world has ever seen while remaining emotionally distant and uninvolved in their lives, neglecting to pass on skills, knowledge, and wisdom that their children would in turn fail to pass on to their own children, but that’s too facile.
The honest answer is I don’t know for sure, but I think it had something to do with advertising and pop culture.
Government was distrusted by these generations, but boy they lapped up consumerism with the passion of penitents receiving Holy Communion. My observation is that the entire counterculture was a media/intelligence agency creation foisted upon the country in order to make the population more susceptible to ever cruder forms of persuasion and control.
When people are very smart and knowledgeable, they’ll see the con coming. When they’re degraded, you can lie to their faces and they’ll believe you.
So that explains the past. What about the future?
* * *
If we think Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials despise the Boomers with a fiery passion, the hatred that the post-2010 generations may feel for their Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennial parents and grandparents make that hatred seem like a warm fall evening.
Much of the same psychological experimentation that was perpetrated against the Boomers by pop culture in the name of freedom was replicated against Gen X, Gen Y, and Millennials, except by the time we reached the latter, the government had somehow emerged as a trusted organization that only wanted what was best for everyone. To question a governmental action was to be some sort of racist Nazi. To want people to die in the streets. To literally be the old evil German guy with the funny mustache, bad hair, and weird accent.
In light of this conditioning, when these generations came of age they were unable to protect their own progeny, if they even had any to begin with. Worse, they went along with it.
What differentiates now from then is that the rebellion used to be by the generation coming of age against its elders. Now, the generation coming of age is venting its own insecurities, neuroses, and grudges against its children. It is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy on a civilizational scale.
What has been done to these kids in the name of their health and safety is a crime against humanity approaching the grandest possible scale, an opera of torment and psychological terror. Living through 9/11 and the “War on Terror” was a cakewalk compared to this.
Imagine six-year-olds bombarded with messages of airborne pathogens that would find and kill them wherever they went if they didn’t keep these magic squares affixed to their faces. In the absence of a religious upbringing, they have been subjected to a cargo cult of pointless obsessive-compulsive ritual that will have far-reaching impacts, ability to discern truth from lies being but one.
To be constantly afraid of others, to willingly cover one’s face and refuse to attain close proximity to other human beings, to be injected with experimental medicine that doesn’t work against a disease that won’t kill you but has dangerous side-effects . . . and to know that your parents let it happen to you?
I shudder at the stories and art and culture these children will create when they grow up. It will be haunting and violent and acrimonious. Instead of tales about free love, drug usage, and reckless abandon, they will be mournful stories made by people who came of age with confused gender and sexual identities, racial animus and awareness, fertility issues, a lack of physical and emotional intimacy, fear of everything, and a stark deterioration in economic condition compared to what their parents and grandparents had.
The art will be achingly beautiful and heartbreakingly sad. It will be sloppy and it will be angry. Viciously angry. They will not share their predecessor generation, the Zoomers’, sense of whimsical, farcical despair. This still unnamed generation will create art that will be raw and brutal. And most of all, the objects of their ire—us—will deserve it.