THE VALLEY DISPATCH, Paul Sullivan’s vintage columns appear every Friday in The Valley Dispatch. He wrote this one in 1993. Sullivan’s WBZ-radio show airs Monday through Friday from 8 to midnight.
I’m sure that I’m not the only person who decided to pack up my belongings one day when I was a lad and run away from home.
As a matter of fact, I think I remember an episode in which Beaver Cleaver decided that he had had enough of Ward and June’s guff, and struck out on his own.
My situation was pretty much similar to his.
I was 7 or 8 years old and had just hit my brother in the head with a Tonka truck. I really don’t think that the pain bothered him all that much, but the blood seemed to upset him a bit.
Well, between the screaming and the blood, my parents seemed pretty ticked off at me.
As I sat in my room, it all became clear to me: I was right and everyone else at my house was wrong. And as I thought back through my seven or eight years on Earth, everything came into focus for me.
“These folds just didn’t appreciate little ol’ Paul,” I decided.
The individual traumatizing incidents came at me one after another, with no end in sight.
My parents didn’t punish my siblings for calling me Paulie-wog.
When there were six eclairs for us five kids, I never seemed to get the extra one.
Frankly, I was getting gypped at every turn. I was mad as hell and I wasn’t going to take it anymore (you have to remember the era; I was growing up in the ‘60s).
I decided to head out, hit the road, seek my fortune, blow that town and any other running-away-from-home cliche I could think of.
I went downstairs to tell my family that I would be running away. As I said my farewells, I was thinking in the back of my mind, “When are they going to tell me to go back upstairs?”
Well, no one said a word. As I headed for the door, I was hoping that someone would stop this nonsense, but, unfortunately, that would be left up to me. The next thing I remember, I was standing outside with a handkerchief full of clothes and nowhere to go.
After examining my predicament a bit, I realized that I better, shall we say, extricate myself from it. A few minutes later, I was back in the house, a little humbler, but none the worse for wear.
As bad as things seemed to be for me when Beaver Cleaver and I were kids, we both might have decided to keep on walking had the rules of life been the same as they are today.
Do you know that under today’s welfare rules, had I kept going and not gone back in my house, I would have been eligible for benefits?
Now I’m sure that 8-year-olds aren’t allowed to stay alone on the run, but teenagers who leave home are, and they can collect welfare.
Seeing the absurdity in such a law, Gov. William Weld vetoed the section of the state budget that allowed for the payments.
As you might expect, however, some state legislators are talking about overriding Weld’s vetoes — including the one that stops welfare payments to teenage runaways.
I, for one, am with Weld on this one.
I hope that the Legislature has the guts to stand up to “give-us-more” lobby and sustain Weld’s veto. If not for the state, for me and the Beaver.
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