Wednesday, July 17, 2019

My Wasted Reign as a Poster Child

Believe it or not, I was a poster child for the Muscular Dystrophy Association about 55 years ago. I have to say that I regret the way I behaved during my reign.

I really wish I would have cashed in on the opportunity a lot more than I did. But I was just a dumb kid. I had no idea how occupying that role gave me such a uniquely powerful political pulpit.

I mean, let’s say, just for example, that the drinking water in your neighborhood is poison. Let’s says it’s full of lead. And let’s say you organize a campaign to shut down that lead processing plant that’s wantonly dumping its toxic waste into the river. Don’t even bother to talk about the adults that are being poisoned, not even if you have a thousand of them. Nobody will give a shit, especially if they’re not white. Right out of the gate you need to trot out the poisoned kids. This will pretty much completely disarm the evil lead processing tycoons and their hired defense goons from the public relations firm.

Kids wield the potent political weapon of shaming. You can fuck over adults but it’s much harder to fuck over kids in the same way. When demands are issued on behalf of kids, they’re hard to ignore. So whatever it is you’re trying to do, say you’re doing it for the kids.

But when I was a poster kid I issued no demands. And there sure as hell was plenty to complain about. There were no ramps on curbs back then. Suppose my mother and I had gone to a busy downtown intersection, called a press conference, pulled out a sledgehammer and smashed the curbs to bits to dramatize our demand. What kind of headlines would that have made? And the movement that brought about all the ramped curbs we see today might’ve started a lot sooner.

Of course if my mom and I had pulled a stunt like that, the Muscular Dystrophy Association would’ve shit a brick. They probably would’ve had to do something to discredit us so they could cut us loose, like plant a bag of heroin in my mom’s purse and rat us out to cops.

But I probably never said a word as a poster kid, except to ask everybody to please give money to a stupid charity that would never have the balls to do anything about anything like ramped curbs. And for that I am very sorry.

But there will be no do-overs. I’ll never be an adorable six-year-old again so I’ll never have that inherent political power again. But the good news is, sometimes old people find themselves with the same awesome power to shame those that fuck them over. And that’s something I become more and more of each day— an old person.

So I need to put together or join a group of ornery old farts and target some deserving politicians for us to shame. That’s how I’ll find redemption.

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