Over the years, I’ve been told many things by my Elders and Betters that have turned out to not be: 1. True, or 2. Fun, or  3.Beneficial, and maybe 4. Physically possible.  

One of the first things that are memorable was one of my parents saying: “Open up. This will make you feel better.” Although that giant spoon of black goop was so close to me that I was cross-eyed trying to see just what it was, eventually, they talked me into it. It’ll make you feel better, said They. It won’t taste as bad as it looks, said They.

My considered comment sounded like “Aaarrrrgggghhhh!” (See 1 through 4 above.) Why did we as children listen! Down deep, we knew it wasn’t true. We knew. Yet we let an E and B talk us into some 1 and 4. Over and over.

Perhaps the second untruth I was given by my E and B’s was that cigarette smoking was good for you. (1 and 3) This information came to me in the very, very ignorant 50s and the early 60s from most magazines and television. And from all the E’s around me.

All those Christmas and Thanksgiving family get-togethers in the fifties that turned the dining room and living room in the house we grew up in so smoky that you couldn’t see Uncle Rich or my dad cheating at 500. Add to this the transparent hypocrisy of it being okay for them, but not for me.

Then the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on smoking came out in the late fifties. Hah! Armed with that, I turned from a goal-less teenager into a Better. Even better, one with the Surgeon General behind me. Honestly, in hindsight, this may be the only time I came out close to holding my own on things I was told by my E’s and B’s. Armed with this fresh information, and cloaked in the bulletproof robes of teenage superiority,  I went after my folks with a vengeance. I told the: You two have to stop smoking. All teenagers are after their parents to some extent; this time, one had help.

I couldn’t get dad. It took him twenty more years and the deaths of a lot of folks around him before he quit. Mom couldn’t take the pressure of her sanctimonious brat of a son. Which was me, in hindsight. She gave it up.

In high school football, I don’t remember which coach it was, the one that tried to teach English, or the one that was best at girl’s basketball, but one of them told all of us football players as we stood around freezing on the football field one late fall day, during practice: “If you hit that guy as hard as he hits you, no one will get hurt.” It seemed to make some kind of sense, you know? When all else fails, use logic.

So not too long after that, I ran headlong into a full-speed senior, and as I lay there on the grass afterward, my ears roaring, my head aching, one shoulder numb clear to my fingers, I came to some conclusions.

One was that there were some considerations here that I had perhaps overlooked. First, that I had been lied to. (See 1 through 4, again.) Even with half my brains knocked out, I could see that one. So there went Number One, and if what I had just been told by an E and B, and a teacher, no less, was false, then what else about football went with it. Football and I eventually parted company.

When 2 went, it took 3, the beneficial one, with it. Along with the later corollary to 3, which states: No pain, no gain. Yeah. Right.

And that gets us to 4, and a corollary to that which I developed later than I should have, which states: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Had I developed that rule sooner, ah yes, how much better off I would now be.