A parent retires
It was a touching ceremony -- typical of those that will be held all over America if my new Planned Parenthood Retirement Plan catches on. My son, Irwin, having finally reached the age of 21, presented my wife and me with a suitably inscribed gold watch and made a little speech.
"You have been loyal and faithful parents," he said, "and I deeply appreciate your 21 years of dedicated service to me. Frankly, I don't know what I would have done without you. And I certainly hope you enjoy your richly deserved retirement."
"Thank you, Irwin," I replied. "I know I speak for your mother, too, when I say what a great pleasure this occasion is.
"During the 21 years we worked for you, there were, it is true, some trying times -- such as your artwork on the living room walls."
"And who will forget," I went on, "your jumping off the roof in a flying saucer you made out of a rubber swimming pool, or the time you had your name tattooed on the top of your head, which you'd dutifully shaved, so that people would know who you were when you gave them a bow?
"Ah, Irwin," said I, "etched deeply on your mother's and my memory are the 8, 743 attempts to get you to clean up your room, which, by the way, we have now simply walled up.
"But there have also been many rewards, and I'd like to cite an example, if I could think of one.
"So let me instead," I continued, "pay tribute to the bold vision and humane concepts behind the Planned Parenthood Retirement Plan.
"To begin with, all parents agree that being a parent is a taxing job, comparable to working a 24-hour shift seven days a week in a boiler factory.
"Yet the boilermaker enjoys one tremendous advantage over the parent: no matter how harried or bored or frustrated he is during his hours of drudgery, he can solace himself with dreams of that golden day when he retires -- leaving the boiler factory behind forever to devote his remaining years to thinking only of his pleasure and comforts.
"But the parent! Since the dawn of time, Irwin, parents have been granted no such benefits.
"Now, however, the new Planned Parenthood Retirement Plan has corrected the worst of these inequities. True, we won't get back a penny of the $50,000 we spent these last 21 years working for you. True, we won't receive a pension. But we will have the retirement benefit we most wanted -- retirement.
"And now that we have retired, your mother and I plan to devote our new leisure time to worthy causes. Our first will be to join the fight to lower the retirement age to 18. Thank you."
It was a week later that my wife approached me, telephone in hand. "It's Irwin," she said with a frown. "He's lost his job, smashed up his car, and been evicted by his landlady for failing to clean up his room."
"Tell him," I said, leaning back in my easy chair and opening my newspaper with a contented sigh, "that I've gone fishing."