A relative of mine, let's just call her Sharon, revealed to us recently that she and her husband Dave are going to get a divorce after their lengthy 5-year marriage. I suspected the reason for the split is Sharon's refusal to cut off her bad-egg son: Shortly after Sharon and Dave got married, he embarked upon a downward spiral of drug abuse and dealing fit for an after school special. When faced with felony charges and a trip to the Big House, Sharon and Dave coughed up an entry-level salary's worth of bail and moved him into their big house.
To hear that Dave wants out of this situation is neither a surprise or a fault. This is not what he signed up for; he never had kids, hers are all out of college. This was supposed to be the kind of marriage where you go on cruises and play golf at the beach house. No-good son moving back in wasn't part of the plan.
My suspicions were wrong. At least partly. In true Baby-Boomer fashion, Dave chose not to end the marriage when he grew unhappy with it, he chose to have an affair with his business partner, all of this confirmed on film by Sharon's Private Investigator. Sharon, mad as hell, began devising schemes to tear apart Dave's business, usurp his houses, and make out like a fatcat. But in the seven days since she spilled the beans, she has demurred, and is thinking about taking him back. Scandalous? Perhaps. Shocking? Never. Sounds familiar...
Picture it: Easter Sunday, 1990. My mother is awoken by a call from a man who she has never met, but who the night previous slashed my father's tires upon discovering my mother's husband was fucking his wife and had been for 9 months. I guess my mom thought confrontation, a crash diet, marriage counseling, and putting on her best Stepford face forward would fix things. Then, on June 29, I woke up to the news that my father had packed up his shit and ran out in the middle of the night. The next two years were a blur of father/no father time when my mother would take him back whenever he felt like it and beg him not to leave when he did. He left for good in '93, and the last I saw him was at his office that June, printing out my Creative Writing final project. He sent birthday cards and letters for a while, but after a year or two, nothing.
The pattern here cannot be ignored. The baby boomer men, rather than own up to their unhappiness, they run off and stick their dicks in the first thing that they find. The women, in turn, blink blankly and do whatever they can, be it starvation, denial, distraction, permissiveness...whatever it takes to hang on to these champions of men, these Baby Boomers. There's an easy and a hard way; a right way and a wrong way to handle everything. Baby Boomers of both genders habitually take the easy and wrong roads. Sharon and Dave, my mother and father, Bill and Hillary. It's easier to run around like some primate than own up to your marital dissatisfaction. It's easier to turn a blind eye to the man who has made a mockery of you than take the reins and go out on your own. Being alone is hard. Baby Boomers don't like hard. They're not used to it.
Like Sharon's problem with her son, or whatever other reason it was that made Dave grow unhappy with her, I know my mother has her faults and was not blameless in her divorce. And Hillary Clinton is Hillary Clinton. I in no way intend to paint a manhating picture with this.
How did it become so universal for my parents' generation to cruise so spinelessly through life? Sharon is convinced she is doing right by her son to let him walk all over her. Why? Because cutting off her son is hard. Just like making the move to leave your wife, just like giving your adulterous husband the boot. My mother has one of the most beautiful, meticulously decorated and manicured home I have ever seen. Why has she not taken our advice and pursued a career in interior design? Because balancing a job and school is hard. Watching TV is easy.
How far does this irresponsibility extend? Baby Boomer politics seem to reflect this--they were the hippies, after all. War is hard, let's not do that. Solving poverty is hard, throwing money at it is easy. Buying a hybrid instead of an SUV is hard, saying you're an environmentalist is easy. Looking inward at your faults is hard, blaming other people is easy.
Will my generation learn to prevail over this? They say a man's greatest accomplishment is for his son to do better in life than he has. Have we? Will we? Will we work hard to face challenges head on, be better parents and spouses, know that we too play a part in our problems? Is it because their parents were so dutiful that they became so irresponsible? Will we recoil from that to become respectable members of society? Did the Baby Boomers think the same thing when they were in their 20's but turned apathetic with age?
Bubba said he acted like a Baby Boomer "because he could". Sure, you did. You got caught, you shirked your responsibilities, and your generational cohorts exonerated you rather than see the man in the mirror. They did just what my mother would have done, and I'd bet my dad's share of my college education that Chelsea can see right through you too.