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The Big V


   Jul 11

The Big V

I’m finally catching up on the New Yorkers that piled up in my absence while I was off being Vacation Suzy. Always instructive yet entertaining, I learned in the combined June 16/23 issue that valium, my drug of choice when faced with the rigors of flying, just turned 40, much like me. It can’t be a coincidence that it was invented when I was a year old; I imagine my advent sent Dr. Leo Sternbach scuttling to his laboratory.

Whether it was my appearance on the scene butt first, or other factors, my mother routinely took valium when I was a child. Many people did. It was the 1960’s and that sort of thing was quite usual, as was my parents’ habit of loading us kids into the car in our PJ’s and taking us to cocktail parties. In their defense, it should be noted that this only happpened when we were in Maine for the summer, and there was very little, if any traffic, in those days. Certainly nothing untoward ever occurred.

Several of our baby pictures feature our parents with a cocktail in one hand and baby bottle in the other; and in my mother’s case, a cigarette is never far away. Now they would probably be charged with child endangerment. These were the 1960’s, the halcyon days of the Rat Pack, and such behavior was the norm, though now it seems almost as remote and antiquated as customs in the 1860’s. I wonder if the enlightened children of today look back at the children who grew up in the Valium Years and feel pity and horror for us.

Dr. Sternbach himself recently turned 95. He confided to the New Yorker that his wife doesn’t let him indulge in his own invention, but that he prefers Scotch anyway.

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