A Texas politician recently suggested that grandparents should sacrifice themselves during the pandemic to get the economy going again. As a grandparent, our favorite humor columnist, Jerry Zezima of the Hearst Connecticut Media Group and the Tribune News Service of Chicago, thought he should respond.
Dear Lt. Gov. Patrick:
I’m Jerry Zezima, a fellow grandfather who has five grandchildren ranging in age from 7 years to 9 months, all of whom are more mature than I am.
I’m writing in response to your suggestion that grandparents sacrifice themselves in the wake of this terrible pandemic to get the economy going again.
I want you to know that I am a proud American who loves this country more than anything except — you guessed it — my grandchildren.
Still, I am willing to do my part to help the economy. It’s something I have always done. Look at the facts: I have been in excellent health my whole life, especially in the past 30 years, a stretch in which the economy has boomed more than at any time in our nation’s history.
Coincidence? I think not.
As my doctor will tell you, I had a bad cold in 2008 and look what happened. That’s right: the Great Recession. Now I admit that this virus is far worse than a case of the sniffles. And how a recession could be called great is beyond my addled geezer brain to understand.
But you need to understand that if I sacrificed myself, in a foolhardy move that would undoubtedly be known as Zexit, the economic structure of the United States, and possibly the entire world, would collapse like a grandfather chasing a toddler.
Speaking of the little ones, what would become of them if we grandparents violated the code of social distancing and started sneezing on each other, leading to our inevitable demise? Aside from the fact that their parents (our children) wouldn’t have to care for us in our old age, which in my case, according to my daughters, arrived years ago, they would be devastated.
People who are willing to talk to me, which narrows the field considerably, have often asked if I spoil my grandchildren.
“No,” I tell them. “That’s my wife’s job. My job is to corrupt them.”
And if I may be permitted to brag a bit, I do it better than any grandfather in this great country of ours. No offense, Lt. Gov. Patrick, but that includes you.
Here are some examples of how the corruption of my grandchildren has made them happy, healthy young people who will grow up to be productive citizens — the kind of driven, hardworking Americans who will follow my selfless lead in creating a robust economy.
In an outstanding patriotic gesture, I took my eldest grandchild, Chloe, who was 2 years old at the time, to the White House Easter Egg Roll. It was during the administration of the previous president, which probably doesn’t score points with you, but I stood in line longer than it takes Congress to pass an economic stimulus bill just so Chloe could meet not the commander-in-chief, but her hero, Peppa Pig.
If memory serves (I’d like it to serve me a beer right now), the stock market zoomed the next day.
I took my grandson Xavier to the Smithsonian. I’m surprised I wasn’t put on exhibit, but it was another patriotic gesture that benefited a great American institution.
I’ve taken the kids bowling. We’ve gone to the zoo. I’ve bought them ice cream and doughnuts. All of these outings have pumped money into the economy.
And don’t forget my wife, Sue, the children’s grandmother. She has spent the fortune I’ll never have on clothes and toys. It’s helped the economy more than any stimulus bill ever could.
I trust that you understand why it would be a bad idea for me to sacrifice myself, Lt. Gov. Patrick. If you want to do it, go right ahead. Just give me the names of your grandchildren, who I am sure will miss you, and I will corrupt them, too.
Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima
Jerry’s latest book is, “Nini and Poppie’s Excellent Adventures: Grandkids, Wine Clubs, and Other Ways to Keep Having Fun.”