Here’s a cool premise: it’s the year 2076, and the baby boomer generation is down to one last survivor, a guy named Martin McCrae! Well, if you like that, you might like this new novel by Latrobe, Pennsylvania’s Chris Rodell. The title tells the story but doesn’t begin to give it away: “The Last Baby Boomer: The Story of the Ultimate Ghoul Pool.”
A generation staring at itself in the mirror, baby boomers had always enjoyed the view. In the end, the world was so sick of them there was talk about hiring bounty hunters to track down the tired old remainders and shoot them off into deep space to fritter away their days angrily accusing one another of cheating at Euchre. But it was just rabble talk and one by one they all dried up and died off.
All except McCrae. And if you overlook the multitudes who were showing up to pray for his death, nobody wished him any ill. He’d enjoyed a life of spectacular failure exceeded only by dogged resilience. He’d never quit. He’d hit bottom more times than all but the most avid spankers, yet he always rose again.
And America took notice. He was as much a part of the nation’s character as Uncle Sam himself. That’s why they’d lodged him in a so-called “gallery suite” on the top floor of The Bolten Museum, a spectacular tourist attraction named after the 53rd president of the United States, a former TV and movie star. People would come from all over the world to visit McCrae at his multimedia exhibit, one that was so interactive contestants would sometimes leave with inadvertent gobs of spit dripping from their faces, unwelcome residue from the subject’s shouted declarations.
Prior to his coma, they could talk to him, have their picture taken with him, listen to his colorful lies and try to mine some truth from all the fool’s gold spilling from his toothless mouth.
While all the others, everyone, had devoted themselves to living forever, by God, it looked like he was the only one who was going to have a real run at it. Living forever had been a national obsession. Eat right, don’t drink, don’t smoke, pop the right pills, and endure the self-torture that was daily exercise and you might escape death. So millions of healthy, strapping Americans led pristine, vice-free lives without blemish, profanity or flaw. In the end, that’s what killed them. As the perfect specimens grew older and cruel time began to inflict its bitter victories against their brittle bodies, there was nothing the doctors could do to save them.
In the old days the doctor could tell patients to lose weight, quit smoking, stop drinking, cut back on salt, drive carefully and pay the lady on their way out. But when the baby boomers got older all the doctors could say was, “I’m sorry. You’ve followed my best advice all your life and now there’s nothing I can do for you. Pay the lady on your way out.”
That’s why doctors were thrilled with McCrae. His whole life he’d drank, smoked, ate rich foods, swore, had unsafe sex with lusty Haitians and generally lived a life of happy dissolution. While others were killing themselves trying to live forever, he’d done as he pleased. Now it was coming back to haunt him.
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