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The Author Speaks

Excerpt From 'Holidays in Heck'

Former war correspondent experiences frightening vacation fun with his family

We changed the world. Life has never been the same since that "youthquake" of forty-some years ago. Think of all the things we wouldn't have if not for the uninhibited freedom and creativity of the 1960s: Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream, Narcotics Anonymous 24-hour help lines, Cher, the Volkswagen New Beetle, comedians who use the word "bull----" on network TV (after 10 p.m.), cats named Chairman Meow, retro 1960s clothing fashions, retro 1960s hairstyles, retro 1960s music fads, herpes.

See also: Interview with P.J. O'Rourke.

As a generation, perhaps we weren't the "greatest," but we certainly were the greatest surprise, when we returned from college drenched in patchouli oil, spouting Karl Marx, and wearing clown pants and braids in our beards. Members of the Greatest Generation pride themselves on all the tribulations they survived, but many of them never got over that one. Mercifully, most members of my generation did. It's been said that we never had to make sacrifices. Not true. Lots of us are awake by nine o'clock in the morning and have jobs.

We got married, had families, straightened out, got married again, had more families, straightened out (really). There can be no greater sacrifice than that a man lay down his lifestyle for others. And — "we are all one" — for himself, too, once he figures out that golf is more fun than hacky sack and decides he wants a Lexus. But that doesn't mean I won't pay 50 cents a cup extra to make sure that my coffee has been organically grown and ecologically harvested in a way that does not cause political or economic exploitation.

You may also like: Author Jacquelyn Mitchard's advice to her grown up children. >>

Holidays in Heck © 2011 by P.J. O'Rourke; reprinted with the permission of the publisher, Grove/Atlantic Inc.

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