I am a sick, sick person. Or, more accurately, I want to be and the affliction for which I aim is that most horrible of horrible illnesses going around — so terrible, in fact, it can explain away obnoxious and even criminal behavior. I am talking about affluenza.
Affluenza is, as of yet, not something to be staved off by hand-washing and a preventative shot at a neighborhood clinic. Then again, who would want to avoid coming down with a solid case of this bug? Affluenza is generally the idea that having an affluent or indulgent upbringing can’t possibly understand the consequences of their actions and is thereby exempt from responsibility.
Alert the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about SBD — spoiled brat disease. Symptoms include a sense of entitlement and in some rare occasions a chip on one’s shoulder. The jury is still out on the best treatment but common home remedies for minor cases often include a good shaking and the confiscation of all tech gadgets.
Patient Zero in this new epidemic appears to be a 16-year-old Texas boy who received rehab and probation rather than prison for killing four and injuring two others in a drunk-driving crash. Many people have received more time for jaywalking but that is obviously only because they knew better. Too bad they, like this poor affluenza-afflicted boy, didn’t have a judge who bought a psychologist’s diagnosis of him never learning that sometimes you don’t get your way.
Just think, being diagnosed with affluenza means first you have some sort of means which is never a bad starting point. Then — and here’s the win-win — because you are assumedly so well-supported and coddled you get a free pass in life. These are certainly not benefits to sneeze at. Sign me up!
Thank goodness for the new insurance regulations under the Affordable Care Act because affluenza obviously only works well as a pre-existing condition. The argument that one never learned right from wrong and the “if p then q” logic of how poor behavior can have terrible impacts doesn’t work as well for those who had to pull themselves up by the proverbial boot straps and whose spoon at birth was more likely silver plated.
That aside, I’m still trying. I may not have won the birth lottery and unfortunately had to slog through a childhood full of life lessons and groundings and being told a resounding “No!” more than occasionally. But that doesn’t mean I won’t take a shot.
With that genius plan in mind, I need someone to host an affluenza party so I can rub elbows and exchange germs with the already ill. It is successful for chicken pox, isn’t it? Maybe a Google bus will work.
Or, I can just fake it till I make it. Millions by Münchausen, perhaps.
I must act quick, however. The infection window is narrowing. Last month, a California assemblyman introduced a bill that would ban attorneys from using “affluenza” as a defense tactic or a mitigating factor at sentencing. Guess that only leaves Twinkies and a lack of hugs to explain away the criminal, the crazy and the downright wrong.
Sadly, I think all the hobnobbing and wishing won’t get me a solid case of spoiled rotten. Unlike that Texas teen, I’ve definitely learned that sometimes you don’t get your way.
But until the state Legislature weighs in on the proposed bill, I’ll keep the option in my bag of excuses even if it is an ill-conceived defense.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.