Born in 1936, Luis Fernando Verissimo is one of Brazil’s most acclaimed contemporary authors. He’s also a gifted cartoonist, playwright and musician, and for several years he has held daily columns in nation’s top newspapers and magazines. With over 60 titles and specialized in chronicles and satires, his light and humoristic texts of cultural and universal themes reach readers all over the world.
So far I’ve taken the time to introduce you in different ways to each of the five generations. To introduce Generation X (1965 to 1977), a paradoxical, divided and small generation placed in-between the two largest generations to date, Verissimo’s words provide us a unique opportunity to go on an empathic journey through the formative years and expectations for the future of this cohort. You’ll find here the original text.
Despite of their disillusions with the business world and society, Xers hold an extremely important role in tomorrow’s world and we’ll further discuss it in our next post.
All my life (Luis Fernando Verissimo, translation by Eduardo Estellita)
Said the man: “I aged at the wrong time. All my life it has been like this. I’ve arrived to each life stage when they’ve had already lost their advantages. Or before they had acquired new ones. I’ve spent my life with the feeling of someone who enters a party when it’s over or leaves right before it gets better.
Look at my childhood for instance. There was a time when children from my social class were treated like princes and princesses. It’s true; they would be spanked a lot as well. But there were compensations. Normally a grandmother lived with them or nearby and comforted them with hugs and sweets. And the mothers wouldn’t go to work, gym class or tsao-tse-something. They were at home, finding ways to spoil their children.
Have you ever had velvet clothes? Neither have I. I’m from the post-velvet, pre-jeans generation. Sometimes I stare at pictures from children back then, with those ridiculous clothes of lace and ruffles, and that makes me so jealous… This is how a child is supposed to be treated. I think that my generation ended up this way because they’ve never wore velvet clothes. Or curled hair.
Another thing: psychology. I was from the first generation raised on psychology. No punishment – let’s talk. He has drawn all over the wall? He’s trying to express something. And he has used his mother’s lipstick? Watch out, a spanking might cause an oedipal introjection and traumatize him forever.
I’m also from the first generation that, with the invention of pocket calculator, didn’t have to memorize the multiplication table. As a result I grew up without two very important notions: sin and mathematics.
I’ve arrived late to childhood and early to adolescence. The sexual revolution started exactly the day after my wedding, in times when marrying was the only way to get to sleep with a woman. Our wedding was on a Saturday and the sexual revolution started on Sunday. I’ve even tried to annul the marriage since it wasn’t necessary anymore, but then it had already been consummated.
My adolescence was a martyrdom. I remember it as an endless lesson on unhooking bras. They were closed behind in a thousand ways. Hooks, clip-ons, buttons, weld. One needed an engineering degree to open them. One of my girlfriends had a bra with a lock. With combination, like a safe, I swear. Seventeen to the left, five to the right, hurry because mother is coming! You, kid, might not even know what a bra is.
I thought I was going to be a serious young man, engaged in the noblest causes, maybe a political activist or a guerilla soldier. When I arrived to this age, young adults were taking care of their careers and stock portfolios. I was from the first generation that when we mentioned “going to the mountains” it meant “to the country house for the weekend”. And from the last one that still used the word “alienation”, but by then we didn’t know very well what it meant.
It’s ok, I thought. I’ll prepare for old age and its privileges, with my pension and grandchildren. But the government is broke and my pension is a joke, and every time my grandchildren look at me, it seems they’re taking my measures for the nursing home. And to top it off, it’s been half an hour I’m here bothering you with this talk and you haven’t yet offered me your seat.”
And the boy said: “Chill old man, this whole thing about offering your seat to the elders is outdated”
And the man sighed: “Haven’t I told you? I’ve even arrived late to old age”.
What texts, songs and paintings remind you of a certain generation?