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Vail Daily column: Things I’ve learned in 50 years

Jeffrey Bergeron
Biff America
Vail, CO Colorado

Harkening back to the parlance of my Boston upbringing I’m here to tell you that, in my teens and 20s, I was “wicked smart.”

That is not to suggest that I wasn’t also quite bright in my 30s and 40s, but again, from the ages of 16 to 30 I had all the answers.

For instance, I knew that my parents, with their work effort, frugality and status quo ideology were little more than pawns in the hands of the capitalistic, soul-sucking establishment.



I also maintained that marriage and mortgages was how society trapped you into walking lockstep in a 9-to-5 mentality.

In keeping with my rejection of tradition I denounced organized religion in favor of the new age path embraced by my rock and roll and literary heroes.



In addition, I vowed never to have a real job or own dress shoes.

You might say that my assertions at that time were naive and narrow. After all, I was a middle class white kid living in the suburbs off my parent’s hard work. Granted that might have been the case in my teens but once I graduated from high school, I left home and saw the world.

After leaving my hardscrabble roots in the picket-fenced Boston suburbs, I traveled the back roads to the soulful, gritty world of beach and mountain resorts. There, with other semi-privileged Anglo Saxons, I finetuned my beatnik philosophy as well as my skiing and surfing skills.



To make ends meet, and afford the latest in counterculture clothing, served the middle class and wealthy who, like my parents, saved and sacrificed so they could visit a place I called home to be waited on by enlightened geniuses like me.

During those salad days of my 20s – not content to limit my life experiences to my nation of birth – I traveled to foreign lands (mostly Tijuana and Canada) to drink and ski.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s that it dawned on me that I might have my head up my butt.

For instance, I had to begrudgingly admit that my counterculture existence was made possible in part by my parent’s work ethic; not by a trust fund or inheritance but by an upbringing void of any real hardship except acne. My high minded, judgmental philosophy, fueled by Kerouac and and Ginsburg, germinated in a home bought and paid for by my parent’s labor. Had I been raised under different circumstances, in poverty, ignorance or oppression, my life would have been dramatically different. I also discovered that “new age” was just another religion.

It was also during my third decade that I began to doubt my earlier assertions of the danger of mortgages and marriage. Perhaps my opinion of those two institutions changed as a by product of finally finding someone who would marry me or lend me money. Regardless, I have come to realize I have been both lucky in love and real estate.

Now that I’ve crested the half century mark, the only principles that I’ve held true to is never having a real job or dress shoes – but one of the two was due to no one being willing to hire me full time.

Since nature abhors a vacuum and since most of my youthful assertions have migrated like my hairline, I’ve been pondering recently on what I know to be true today. (Granted if I live to be 70, I could denounce all this stuff as well.)

So here goes. Organized religion is as bad or good as the people who practice it.

Most women are attracted to men who are good listeners and have a sense of humor – many young men don’t know this and spend more time doing sit-ups than listening.

No one ever listened to someone giving a speech or making a presentation and said, “Damn I wish he/she talked longer.” If someone asks you to speak for four minutes, speak for three and a half and be a hero.

Liberal, conservative, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheists are all just labels and there are kind, compassionate, enlightened people in every category, as well as many jerks.

If you are loved, healthy, not hungry and see the world through the eyes of kindness and hope, you are blessed. That’s all I have now but I’ll check back in 20 years.

Oh, one more thing: No one likes Jello.

Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8 and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at biffbreck@yahoo.com.

Biff’s book “Steep, Deep and Dyslexic” is available from local book stores or from http://www.webersbooks.com


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