ADOLESCENCE IS A mental illness when it happens to anybody but a teenager. In a 30-year-old, for instance, a state of adolescence is called a nervous breakdown. This was an observation made in 1982, by Bob Myers, the eccentric owner of The County Press in Lapeer, Mich. Myers wrote a column under the pen name of Len Ganeway. He was proud to be an old geezer.

He was a successful dairy farmer before going to work at his father’s newspaper. The press was billed as “America’s Largest Rural Weekly.” Myers believed in the value of school teachers and held an annual banquet to honor the very best. He established a fund to reward them with cash bonuses.

He said “When a man of 45 has adolescence, it’s the male crossroads or the midlife crisis. In a woman, it’s the search for meaning or to some, self-indulgence. Teenagers, however, are not seen as people in pain. When they become messy, depressed, testy or defiant, they are not given mood-brighteners, tranquilizers or a leave of absence. They are ignored or told to knock it off and take out the garbage.”

I might note, Myers’ weekly newspaper had one of the highest circulations in the country. His philosophy was “give the readers what they want.” Publishers across the country wanted to emulate his success.

He said teenagers have a long and wretched adolescence because they’re too young for it. They behave among adults like prisoners in enemy hands; giving nothing but their name, rank and serial number. Teenagers don’t have a verbal message. How does that compare with today’s teenagers?

When they’re in despair, they slouch. When they’re uptight, too loose or unsure, which may be most of the time, they drink, drive too fast, try drugs or test out their sporty new sexuality. Occasionally, they kill someone, most often themselves. They are so alarming to view that most of us would rather not. This is known as the generation gap.

Maybe some families have a tranquil time of it. I suppose ours was relatively so. Our children had strange habits like reading in the closet, despising football, falling in love with weirdos and generally preferring their mother’s company or the TV to youngsters of the same sex and age.

Still, they were sensible, truthful, independent and appreciative. I’m sure we all liked one another, although we certainly didn’t understand each other. It might have been this affection we shared, along with some respect too, that kept the children out of trouble and their parents out of the divorce court. That and a lot of luck.



*  *  *

THERE ARE so many COVID-19 jokes making the rounds. It’s a “pundemic.” Here’s a sample sent to me by a former associate.

Finland has just closed its borders. No one will be crossing the finish line.

Now is not the right time to surround yourself with positive people.

Due to the quarantine, I’ll only be telling inside jokes.

There will be a minor baby boom in nine months and then, one day in 2033, we shall witness the rise of the “quaranteens.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that dogs cannot contract COVID-19. Dogs previously held in quarantine can now be released. To be clear, WHO let the dogs out.

I’ll tell you a COVID-19 joke now, but you’ll have to wait two weeks to see if you got it.

What do you call panic buying of sausage and cheese in Germany? The “wurst Kase scenario.”

I ran out of toilet paper and had to start using old newspapers. Times are rough.

The grocery stores in France look like tornadoes hit them. All that’s left is de Brie.