“My father taught me how to throw a baseball and divide big numbers in my head and build a life where I’d be home in time to eat dinner with my kid most nights. He and my mother put me through college and urged me to follow my dreams. He never complained when I entered a field even less respected than his. He lives across the country and still calls just to check in and say he loves me.
His name is Tom. He is 63, tall and lean, a contracts lawyer in a small Oregon town. A few wisps of hair still reach across his scalp. The moustache I have never seen him without has faded from deep brown to silver. The puns he tormented my younger brother and me with throughout our childhood have evolved, improbably, into the funniest jokes my 6-year-old son has ever heard. I love my dad fiercely, even though he’s beaten me in every argument we’ve ever had except two, and even though he is, statistically and generationally speaking, a parasite.
This is the charge I’ve leveled against him on a summer day in our Pacific Northwest vision of paradise. I have asked my favorite attorney to represent a very troublesome client, the entire baby-boom generation, in what should be a slam-dunk trial—for me. On behalf of future generations, I am accusing him and all the other parasites his age of breaking the sacred bargain that every American generation will pass a better country on to its children than the one it inherited.”