Musings & Observations in Darien / Barry Halpin
The Bill of Excuses
Over the past decade there has been a dismaying human tendency not to accept full responsibility for one's actions. We've become the "It's not my fault" culture, ever prepared to place the blame on someone else or some earlier trauma.
It's bordering on an epidemic. We all know it and we've all been guilty of it at one time or another in our lives. Let's be honest here. Who wants to take responsibility for messing up, especially if there's a big time penalty attached to it. We tell the "not me" lie to others and the more we repeat the lie, it becomes our personal truth.
How refreshing it would be to hear, "Yes I messed up and you know what? It is nobody's fault but mine. I hate to say it but I bear full responsibility for my actions."
I recently heard from a very reliable source that in an attempt to try and deal with this burgeoning problem, the Supreme Court of the United States spent two weeks at Cowboy Bob's New Age Metaphysical Dude Ranch, outside of Las Vegas, Nev. Passions were strong, convictions ran deep and deliberations at one point broke down into name-calling and schoolyard put downs and things looked hopeless.
At the 11th hour, in a moment of sheer genius, Bob had the justices do some yoga and transcendental meditation, followed by having them form a circle, hold hands and sing "Kumbaya."
Then, in what has to be hailed as a landmark decision in the history of the court and for our country, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously decided that there are five allowable excuses for any and all behavior.
What this means is that if any one of the five life events, heretofore to be known collectively as the Bill of Excuses, happens to you, you will not be punished or held personally responsible for any of the subsequent actions in your life.
The justices' upcoming press release states, "All excuses in the Bill of Excuses have been deemed to be legitimate karmic events -- occurring during a child's formative years -- that have torn the fragile psyche of those involved, plummeting them into a nightmare existence."
What follows is the original Bill of Excuses. From now on, all other excuses put forth by the citizens of the United States of America will be seen as lame excuses and have no relevance or meaning. There will be no "do-over" and they will have to pay the piper for their actions.
Excuse No. 1 -- "I had my cheeks pinched and my hair tousled by my relatives who told me how cute I was and how much I had grown." The justices felt that having this happen to you created an intense fear of getting close to others, lest they pinch or tousle your hair, making it extremely difficult to achieve intimacy in life. Many victims have reported waking up screaming in the middle of the night from a Twilight Zone like nightmare, where they are trapped in a room filled with aunts and uncles, attacking them with claws instead of hands.
Excuse No. 2 -- "I had no date for my senior prom." The justices were brought to tears while discussing this excuse, as it awakened horrible adolescent memories and accompanying fantasies of how they would have liked their prom to be. They felt that if you did not go to the senior prom you had missed out on a truly important rite of passage, a seminal event in many teenagers' lives. No prom date often meant you were branded with a modern day scarlet letter -- L for loser -- that was hard to erase. In their opinion paper, the justices wrote how the psychological damage never could be undone and often led to terminal adolescence, a lifelong search for the perfect prom date and years on the psychiatrist's couch.
Excuse No. 3 -- "I forgot the words to the The Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States, while standing in front of my third-grade class." The justices saw this life event as incredibly tumultuous for those involved. They felt it created an inability to bond with others in sing-along environments such as camp and college fraternities. It also caused intense performance anxiety in all types of situations, up to and including a hurricane-like rage when asked to sing-along at family events. Additionally, it was impossible for these people to attend sporting events without going to the rest room during the playing of the "The Star Spangled Banner."
Excuse No. 4 -- "I discovered the tooth fairy was my dad." The justices felt that every child needs something to believe in, most importantly Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. They felt that if for any reason one of the fantasy triumvirate should be shown not to exist, it would completely destroy the child's belief system and ability to trust adults. It would call into question everything that adults said, thereby throwing the child into an existential dilemma. The chief justice said, "How can we ever punish someone who has been lied to in such a hideous manner, in complete and wanton disregard for their imagination and in truth, their very being?" These children were also found to have an inordinate fear of going to the dentist and harbored ill will toward orthodontists.
Excuse No. 2 -- "My mother and grandmother constantly called me an affectionate nickname I hated in front of my friends." The justices felt that the embarrassment caused by this callous act was beyond any embarrassment a human being should have to endure in their lifetime. One justice shared how his mother came to his elementary school, because he had forgotten his lunch, walked into his classroom, and said, "here's your lunch, snooky pooky wooky." These children were often subject to ridicule by having other children use their nickname in a bizarre singsong anthem at the worst possible times. They also struggled with coming up with affectionate nicknames for the people they loved.
Other excuses considered were "Over they years I was forced to perform -- sing dance, play the piano and recite poetry -- for my relatives and parents' friends against my will," "My parents never took me on a Sunday drive" and "I never had my own room as a child," but were dismissed as too frivolous. The chief justice in his opinion wrote, "If their favorite excuse is not included, tough noogies and get a life!"
The bill states categorically that documentation will be required to qualify for a pardon under the Bill of Excuses. And they expect more than a note from your mother.