Obey those in charge! Don’t talk back! One of the first orders barked at me at age 18 in Navy boot camp was: Follow orders! If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t move, paint it. Earlier as an orphanage kid, obedience to elders was constantly hammered into my naive little head.
Through the growing-up and Navy years, I was brainwashed to fear and revere teachers, clergy, cops, generals, admirals, royalty and politicians. On my worship list were noble beings who were far superior to unimportant me.
Movie humor genius Mel Brooks once said, “Life literally abounds in comedy if you just look around you.” Today, in advanced old age, I fully agree with fellow nonagenarian Mel (he’s 90). The human barnyard pecking order we’re forced to obey is, although too often tragically unfunny, a human comedy.
Why should we enjoy life as a comedy? Everyone must face the human tragedy of inevitable death. So, while we’re still here and kicking, we should get as much fun as possible out of it. My attitude is: go for the laughs while still able to do your brief standup routine on Earth’s comedy stage.
During the many years since youthful brainwashing, I eventually realized that even the greatest presidents, priests and pedants are as weakly human as I. And to my great surprise, also need to go to the toilet several times a day. Why am I no longer shocked at what happens to squeaky-pure generals, clergy and politicians when their private lives and private parts are exposed?
My history includes toiling in the business world for more than a quarter of a century. During those years, I gradually lost all respect for grossly overpaid and over-rated executives. I had to deal with them when I produced major awards conferences throughout the U.S., Canada and Caribbean.
I wrote scripts and continuity for events that were presented in resort auditoriums and theaters. They included inspiring speeches for executives to deliver to large audiences of company employees and families. The big shots merely had to read the 15- to 30-minute speeches and make them sound authentic.
A few intelligent and sober ones did exactly that, and I could feel pride in my creative accomplishments. However, too many others stumbled and mumbled through my words. To them, the conferences merely represented unlimited free booze and babes, and it angered me.
Worse, the reality that they were being paid 10 times my salary still hurts. I can try to laugh about it now, but the memories come back when I see even more insane pay doled out to some of the world’s most undeserving. Incompetent CEOs, crooked politicians, arrogant pro athletes, hammy actors and faux musicians.
Maybe my biggest and most bitter laugh relates to military leaders, not only of today, but those from all the way back to the dawn of our so-called civilization. They’re pompous, fat and rich old guys all gussied up in silly Graustarkian uniforms. They boast chests full of medals earned by ordering young guys to go kill or get killed by other young guys on the other wide of the world.
Despite all my late-life gripes, I can still look back and recall the pleasure of finding humor to relieve the most difficult situations. In summary, and at my very advanced age, a quote from a Frank Sinatra classic reflects my attitude:
And now, the end is near,
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.
I’ve lived a life that’s full,
I’ve traveled each and every highway;
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way!