It’s not unalloyed good news, because although I am optimistic (just see my last blog entry) I was not found in a cabbage patch nor was I raised on sunshine and good vibes. The response of some social conservatives definitely reminds me that nothing is over—if anything, the desire of a handful of retrograde culture warriors to wrap themselves in the mantle of faith and claim special privilege as a marginalized group seems to have grown. It’s what you might call a smaller, but more motivated group. Look at it this way, if it’s right that the SCOTUS Windsor ruling has literally made all further argument on gay marriage moot, what the hell is Brian Brown gonna do now? Get a real job? Even Fox News might stop inviting Tony Perkins on, and everyone knows Bryan Fischer is worried that if folks are freely getting gay-married…well, he’s on his own thing and I think he’s more scared of turning into a vulva than turning gay, but my point is, that rear-guard money is catch as catch can and they gotta hustle now. So they will hustle.
The thing with prejudice is, the people with it like to feel justified. Of course they are fine upstanding better people. They wouldn’t even have the prejudices they do if they weren’t! This “religious freedom” gambit seemed like a nice way to co-opt the language of the persecuted to sound like maybe they were the ones all victimized and wronged by liberal fascism. Which is the very worst kind of fascism because of the PBS programming and organic produce, not to mention the whole meaningful chats about “tone”. But the problem is political correctness, don’t you know.
Conservatism won at least one argument with me. I hate political correctness. I will call these professional victims and family values pimps what they are. And for what it’s worth, if they want to talk about respecting religion, I have some reservations about your garden-variety haters deciding it’s totally okay to rip out pages of Leviticus and use them as a fig leaf to cover up their rage-boners over any class of people…being treated totally the same as anyone else.
But here is something to ponder that I don’t think conservatives are taking into account:
This kissing of theocratic ass is costing them—let’s talk about CPAC.
I love CPAC. I pretend I’m appalled because I’m a proper liberal with all the right credentials but as theater? I was a choir geek in high school—I love theater! And who doesn’t like to watch a hot mess of theater sometimes? But anyway, CPAC has engendered drama because they could never let GOProud in the fold. They were out, and never in. The sucking up around the edges to try and pacify the theocrat powers that be apparently cheesed Chris Barron off enough to quit them, hard enough. Is he not a conservative and a brother?
This wedge issue that used to be good for the GOP circa 2004, is not a great issue about now. But if they think they look spiffy in albatross, who am I to try and stop them? You go, GOP-ers! Wrap yourself in the flag and the Bible and take all of your guns at once and….
I dunno. Write a very serious letter to editor of the Washington Times. If they have one. I guess.
Because I watch the silly post-Edwardian soap opera known as Downton Abbey, in which all the opulent grand estates and posh London residences have names, it occurred to me the other day that my family’s home should have a name. It’s an unremarkable concrete block 3/2 that was built in 1977, but why shouldn’t it have a name?
I shared this thought with the mister, and without hesitation, he said, “Cork Haven,” which is perfect. So henceforth, I will refer to my home by its proper appellation. Just so you know.
I am back at Cork Haven after living out of a suitcase for a month while attending to my mom during her final illness. I just wanted to say how incredibly touched I was and continue to be by your kind condolences and the wisdom you shared here and here the other day. It comforted me when I sorely needed comforting, and I am more grateful than I can express.
With that said, please share the name of your abode, or create one now to share. The 1% may have all the money and grand estates, but names are free, so there’s no reason they should get to bogart that too.
My mom died a few hours ago. I’m an atheist, and I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if there is one, Mom is probably pissed at me for putting her personal business out on the Internet, even if I don’t use her actual name or mine. “Why?” she’d ask. “What the hell is the point?”
But I want to tell you about her, because she was a character. I almost completely fucked up her life by being conceived when she was in high school and becoming the proximate cause of a shotgun wedding between two wildly ill-suited mates. By the time she was 18, Mom had two pain-in-the-ass daughters, a failing marriage and no money.
But she had an escape plan: When she was in her early 20s, she left my father and moved herself and us kids to the nearest sizable town and worked her way through nursing school. She became a cardiac care nurse, a teacher and a leader, but always someone who pushed back against what she perceived as the stupidity of institutional thinking.
For example, when some of the “suits” at her hospital pushed the staff to come up with snappy acronyms for processes, she made sure hers were near-profanities such as “TERD” and “SHYT.” She was 100% serious about patient care, but she had a strict no-bullshit policy about schemes hatched by administrators.
She would eventually try marriage again, but it wouldn’t last. She got a son out of the deal, though, so she considered the relationship a qualified success. Her boy grew up loved, harassed and scolded by a mom and two older sisters. And while matrimony never quite took with my fiercely independent mom, motherhood sure did. She loved each of us ferociously.
Mom was a witty woman, with a tendency toward sarcasm and irony. My sister followed in Mom’s footsteps and became a nurse. When she graduated from nursing school, she went for a job up in Savannah. So Mom, sis, little brother and I made a family trip of it to take my sister to her first real job interview.
After the interview, we were in our crappy little hotel near the waterfront (a “fleabag,” Mom called it), watching the local news. The announcer mentioned that a Coast Guard cutter was docking at the waterfront that evening. Without missing a beat, Mom reached into her purse, handed my sister and me five dollars apiece and said, “If you can’t drink all night on that you’re no daughters of mine.” And we did. And we are.
Some years later, after my sister had returned to Florida, my little brother decided to steal the family van at age 14, sell baseball cards along the way for gas money and go look up a girl in Virginia whom he’d met at the beach. He and a friend got as far as Savannah when they ran out of gas and could find no takers for their baseball card collections.
Naturally, Mom was frantic about the missing son and vehicle. She’d contacted my brother’s friend’s parents, and they figured the boys were somewhere together in the van, but since they’d left in the middle of the night, no one knew how far they’d gone. My brother finally broke down and called Mom. He said, “Mom, I’m in Savannah.” Mom said, “Savannah better be a girl, you little shit!”
Mom and the other boy’s father rode up together to fetch the miscreants. On the way home in the van, Mom played the soundtrack of “Cats” on an endless loop at high volume to punish my brother. Twenty years later, he still can’t hear it without involuntary retching.
The women in my family tend to live long enough to seriously flirt with or surpass the century mark. Mom’s own mother is alive and in tolerably good health for a very old lady, though I suspect the news of Mom’s death will kill her. We dread telling her tomorrow, but we must.
Given what we thought were fortunate genes, we used to jokingly conjecture that Mom, my sister and I would end up living together again someday as three cranky old ladies, and that our much-younger brother would be obliged to have a stiff drink before visiting us each week to clean the cat box and pluck our chin hairs.
But as it turns out, Mom, the cardiac nurse with a fiercely loving heart, was born with a bad aortic valve. And that’s what took her from us decades too soon.
All during the last month that was consumed by her health crisis, I kept finding myself wanting to text her or call her to tell her about some stupid thing someone did or said that would have amused her. I miss her so much already, and this mom-shaped hole will be in my heart for the rest of my life.
Goddamn it, it’s not fair, I keep thinking. There was so much more fun to be had, more trouble to get into. But life’s not fair, as Mom often reminded us. You get to be alive, and then you’re gone, so make it count, she would have said. And demonstrated.
I have the feeling that Tom Perkins and I don’t have considerable overlap in our personal views or experiences regarding money. It’s okay, and I judge, but, like, I don’t judge, man. He’s made a living knowing things about money, while for me, economics is a neat hobby, but I read poetry in college because my folks wanted me to be a useful citizen and iambs kept me off the pipe and the pole. Kind of. So I am taking his pronouncements with a grain of salt and a spoonful of sugar.
It’s hard to not look at a claim that people should earn votes based on their tax dollars as a form of elitism where wealthy people have more value in a system based on their proportionate capacity to pay more in tax dollars because they have those dollars to pay. I could envision a system where, by virtue of greed and the complicity of the hoi polloi, the wealthy could become disenfranchised by a tax law exempting the 1%-ers from all taxation. Followed by a brief and satisfying reign of terror in the exact year they lose all the votes. But I have long dipped my toes in speculative fiction where justice often follows narrative ends.
I do not suggest that such a future is practical nor probable. But I do note that our popular elections are so run that money does have sway in the ability of candidates, or whole movements, such as the Tea Party, to gain offices. The ability to create issues, generate turn-out, attract donations (by that old black magic called “It takes money to make money”), run ads that popularize a candidate’s name and visage, and so on, are greatly aided by money.
Why, let me introduce you to the Koch Brothers, if you haven’t been introduced! They’ve got a system. They are two guys who can fund a remarkable number of think tanks (thought tanks, I think, because the thinks were already pre-thunk, no?), action groups, and whatever you might call them. This is several different ways to funnel money to campaigns, really. Many ways to soften up voter minds or harden positions for the gullible faithful inclined to seeing things their way. Billionaires can even buy or build whole news networks. They are even owning whole states, in their unpleasant way. With the Citizen’s United decision, dollars pretty well convert to votes. Perkins’ dream is about here.
I think this is why folks of limited resources need to take advantage of voting while we can, because it is regularly being screwed with. (Nope, even today.) And let’s make sure our votes don’t get bought out from under us.
The situation may well be dire for Dinesh D’Souza, conservative public intellectual, film-maker, and Christmas tree salesman. His recent indictment for charges of campaign finance fraud, for allegedly filtering $20K in campaign contributions to a long-time friend, Wendy Long, through “straw contributors”, could very well result in mandated jail time if he is found guilty. As in the picture above, you could say he’s up the creek on this one, but it’s a very odd thing, if you ask me.
Now, I don’t care for D’Souza, as might be evident by how I’ve written about him in the past. His claim that there is something un-American about being opposed to British colonialism, and selling that idea to people in tricorn hats waving stars and stripes, struck me as a tad incongruous and not without some racialist undertones when I first heard it, and I pretty much determined where his head was at when he quite recently made a tasteless tweet using a dead youth to malign the current president. His sensationalization of Barack Obama’s “hidden” life and times in his wingnut welfare hit (job) movie aimed low and didn’t miss hitting a low bar and stumbling right over, failing to actually be in any way a meaningful criticism of the President, even if a meaningful criticism based on policy from a conservative point of view could have potentially been made—but might not have been “sexy” enough for the president of a smallish Christian college who did not realize that not even being divorced from his current wife would look bad if he was kinda shacking up with some other lady.
But if anything, senationalist hot-button books and movies at least have some lucrative value, even if they don’t live up to what an actual intellectual dissection of the target might mean in actual effect. But this indictment is talking about a mere $20k (is that—“That they can prove” or what?) laundered (to use a term of art) through straw contributors (they had to have consented, yes?) to a campaign that lost so very, very considerably. I mean it wasn’t even close. Twenty large would have barely closed the deal on enough media time to make it remotely competitive. Not disrespecting whether he and the former Wendy Stone went way back—but what makes a guy risk jail time and at least four other suckers unindicted co-conspirators go in for the thing? Sheer ignorance of the FEC and laws thereabout? This is neither brain science nor rocket surgery, friends.
I get that some conspiracy-minded folks are saying this is a biased charge, but I find it hard to think there would be motion on this without any evidence at all. I’m thinking this is out there because the Feds are dead-to-rights on the 20G’s they know about. Anything they shake out besides that is gravy. I just can’t figure out why.
That’s disappointing. What did he think he was doing there? For a public intellectual, he could be more smart.
But let’s look for silver linings, shall we? Now that Liz Cheney has settled in the lovely state of Wyoming, she can spend time getting to know people and making herself some friends, possibly bonding over casting lines and hoisting brewskis. It might just be that she is what we would call an “acquired taste” and the good folks of Wyoming haven’t had ample enough opportunity to, um, acquire a taste for her. (I know I never have.)
Now admittedly, they might never warm to her (although pitchforks and torches may be involved at some point down the line) and taking up full-time residence in Wyoming may cut into her television appearances shilling for neoconservative foreign policy ideas she learned at daddy’s knee. I don’t see a downside there.
The use of the deadly attack on the embassy in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the deaths of four Americans as a political tool has frankly astonished me since the foreign policy naif Mitt Romney had the bad taste to broach it the very evening that it happened. For that reason, I see a kind of lukewarm vindication of the Obama Administration’s public statements regarding the matter in the NYT’s in-depth study on it, which draws two meaningful conclusions: that al-Qaeda was not involved in the attack and that it did stem in part from the widespread protests over a rather dumb bigoted little video, just as was stated by current NSA Susan Rice.
It has long seemed to me that the Benghazi affair as initiated by the Romney folks was a matter of using President Obama’s perceived strength (as having authorized the successful raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden) against him. The failure on the Romney side began with the claim that a statement attempting to ameliorate matters from the Cairo embassy was a sign that the Obama Administration actually sided with radical Islam, but this blew up into a claim that the administration was actually somehow derelict in defending the Libyan embassy from attack from several others on the Republican side, including Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa. The use of the Benghazi tragedy as an indictment of the Obama Administration spans a number of criticisms that conservatives have had with the Commander-in-Chief—that he is Muslim or more sympathetic to radical Islam, that he isn’t a real leader, or that he wants America to fail.
It’s pretty much always been bullshit. Senators McCain and Graham did the best job of giving the game away when they failed to attend a briefing on the matter, opting instead to hang their faces in front of a camera pointing fingers. Rep. Issa, supposedly a kind of watchdog, has fluffed the matter at intervals, but is mostly of the school of investigation that insists that if he doesn’t hear what he thinks he ought, there is surely a cover-up afoot.
On Sunday, “Meet the Press” host David Gregory asked Issa to respond to The Times story, which was published online Saturday. The story also said the Benghazi attacks were “fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
“We have seen no evidence that the video was widely seen in Benghazi,” Issa said Sunday. “People from this administration … have said under oath there was no evidence of any reaction to a video.
“What we know, David, is the initial reports did not name this video as the prime cause,” he added.
Is that so? (No, it is not. And being a very concerned person, he might perhaps have looked at more than a few media accounts, no?) He’s also said that if a group alleges it has some connection with al-Qaeda, then that is good enough for him, which must be very validating to jihadi-come-lately groups who can at least claim to know somebody who knows somebody.
I’m afraid until Fox News gives the high sign, the idea that there was something more than usually rotten in Benghazi will be as certain a thing as the unbearable whiteness of Santa Claus in some quarters.
What I do want to point out, though, is that there is a sobering side to this in that the militants who made this attack came from the people the US supported in the overthrow of Qaddafi. I think there is an analogy that could be preemptively applied to involvement in Syria, for example. If anyone has the ear of, say, Sen McCain, they might want to try to explain it to him. I sort of hope President Obama has figured it out, but I’ve no real idea. Something about good intentions.
I know I’m coming a bit late to the party regarding commenting on the Ted Cruz coloring book, but I think it’s in part because it isn’t really…that weird to me? To explain, when I was six (!), I was a recruit to the Kiss Army, because they were not just a band, but an obviously swag-generating operation. I saw the Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park tv movie, and decided I was going to grow up and marry Ace Frehley. I had the Colorforms. I had some trading cards. What other bands had Colorforms and trading cards? None. So who was the number one favorite of headbanging first-graders? Exactly. You have to give it up for a band that merchandises for the milk and cookie crowd, although, I admit, by Animalize my tastes had just about matured out of them.
So it goes, right?
But that leads me to the question—who is US Senator Ted Cruz to The Future for? I figure the upper age for kids who actually color is what—ten? So the kids coloring Senator Ted today would be more concerned with entering high school than voting booths when 2016 rolls around.
I know. It could just be kind of a hipster-fun thing to have a political coloring book, and I might be overthinking this a little, but I don’t doubt that Cruz probably does have his sights on the White House (probably in 2016,* too) and that although he says he had no involvement with the creation of the coloring book, it definitely has the fingerprints of some “friends of Ted” (note the “Ten Commandments” branch on that tree). Am I being goofy if I think this is aimed at planting a seed with “Generation Joshua” (some of whom are definitely in the process of being softened up for the TX GOP politicians of the future)? That way, if 2016 doesn’t fly, maybe 2020? 2024?
(*I know I have claimed not to be interested in talking about 2016 yet. “Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” and all that.)
You know what? I’ll even spot Rep. Trey Radel (FL-R) his weak, borrowed from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, excuse that he only did cocaine because he was such a drunk, because sure. It’s not like the sting that busted him was perpetrated because he already had a history of purchasing coke (it was), and in any event, I can’t talk about what drunk people might get up to. I am only an indifferent drunk myself. I do know I can’t afford $250 bucks worth of blow if I had that much to spend on bourbon. That is some fucking stupid drunkonomics. But maybe being wasted on microbrews made him wonder if he shouldn’t maybe be doing lines, just like I interrupt a wine binge with espressos (I do no such thing). Sure. That’s logical. (By which I mean “NOT”.)
What isn’t logical is being well aware that people acquire substances to help them through the bitter pain of their day to day existence and get dependent on them, and then thinking that it would be A-OK to penalize the poor for their propensity to self-medicate against the horror of a crappy reality by piss-testing people to qualify for their benefits.
Do I think Rep. Radel was maybe in the midst of getting high his ownself when he thought this would be a nifty exercise to spring on the poor? Yeah. I think so. Do I think he thought he was fundamentally different from some wasted SOB who couldn’t catch a job because he himself had a good one in Congress, and therefore, he was morally better than that other kind of substance-user? Yes, indeed. I think he believes he is morally and substantively different from some person who might use drugs, but does not have money.
In other words, he is a real prick. Now, there is drug and alcohol rehab, but I do not know that there is any successful “being a real prick” rehab. But he could use that kind. He surely could.
The picture above is of Baloo, Leo and ShereKhan, a lion, bear and tiger all living together at the Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Locust Grove, GA and they are BFFs!! The reason this is a “rescue” ask is that their sanctuary is having to raise money to build a higher fence to conform to new federal regulations and, since they are 501(c)(3), they don’t have bags of money laying around. if they can’t raise the funds the shelter will have to close and the animals dispersed to smaller shelters. So Baloo, Leo and ShereKhan would likely have to be separated which would be devastating for them as they have been together since they were cubs 12 years ago. More about their back story here.
I have done some research on Noah’s Ark and they are a legit organization dedicated to rescuing wild animals who have been mistreated, usually by idjits who think they’d make good pets, and the staff just tries to give them a good place to live out their lives. I know times are tough for all of us but if you can help there’s a donate button here. Thanks!
I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with the product heating instructions your company provides on Qrunch Quinoa Burgers packaging and to beg you to alter it immediately. I attempted to enjoy a Qrunch Quinoa Burger for lunch a short while ago, and to describe the ensuing mess as a clusterfuck would be a disservice to both clusters and fucks.
When I first retrieved my package of Qrunch Quinoa Burgers from the freezer and consulted the instructions, I was very happy to see that it was possible to heat the patties in a toaster because I dislike the texture of microwaved food and was in too much of a hurry to use a skillet:
It never occurred to me that the photo of the toasted Qrunch Quinoa Burgers that illustrates your instructions was misleading. But it’s a filthy lie, employing as it does a half-scale replica of an actual toaster to lull overly credulous consumers into thinking they can safely toast their patties.
See how the patties in the picture extend well above the top of the toaster slot? In reality, Qrunch Quinoa Burgers disappear into the slot completely, coming to rest about an inch BELOW the top of the slot—even before the toast-lowering lever is engaged.
No matter, I thought, watching my patty disappear into the bowels of my toaster. I’ll just unplug the toaster after the toasting operation is complete, use a fork to retrieve my patty, and before you can say “Jack Robinson,” I’ll be enjoying my Qrunch Quinoa Burger.
Alas, I was entirely too optimistic! Here is what happened when I tried to retrieve my patty:
And then it got even worse, with the patty completely disintegrating in response to my frantic attempts to extract it from the toaster. Finally I had to turn the toaster over onto its side to leverage gravity. The result was an eviscerated patty adulterated by random toaster shakings. Worse yet, IT WAS STILL COLD, even though I’d followed the instructions and run two cycles:
I’m not blaming you for the fact that it has clearly been too long since I’ve cleaned my toaster. I’m not even expecting an apology or recompense. I’m just begging you, in the name of corporate good citizenship, to change the heating instructions copy on your packages and spare other consumers the pain, disillusionment and toaster wreckage I’ve suffered today.
You can either remove the toaster suggestion completely or alter it to alert consumers that they’ll need to use a special miniature Qrunch Quinoa Burger toaster and THREE heating cycles. I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday he’s working on legislation that would give the president the green light to attack Iran if negotiations over the country’s alleged nuclear weapons program stall.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told NBC News on Wednesday that his administration will never develop nuclear weapons and that he has full authority to make a deal with the West on the disputed atomic program.
In Rouhani’s first interview with a U.S. news outlet since his election, he also spoke to NBC News National and International correspondent/anchor Ann Curry about his initial interactions with President Obama, who sent him a letter of congratulations and raised “some issues.”
“From my point of view, the tone of the letter was positive and constructive,” Rouhani said.
All we are saying, Lindsey, is give diplomacy a chance.
Also somewhat related Harry Reid blew off a little steam:
We should be facing the reality of climate change. Look what happened in Colorado. I talked to Senator Bennet yesterday. He said the floods were “Biblical.” In one part of Colorado, it rained 12 inches in 2 hours. I cannot imagine that. Fires all over the West. Climate change is here. I met with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh. They do not know what they are going to do with the rise of the sea which is taking place. In that country there is no high ground. It is that way all over the world. The Marshall Islands–a thousand islands make up the Marshall Islands–55,000 people live there. These islands are being washed away with the new waves they have never seen before.
Climate change is here. We are doing nothing about it. They are spending all of our time, the American taxpayers’ time, trying to repeal a law that has been in effect for 4 years.
Speaking as someone who’s been witnessing these “Biblical” floods from the literal sidelines*, all I can say is “No shit, Sherlock.”
Our government is so very, very dysfunctional and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it.
It looks like The Donald is being The Sued over a kind of “get-rich eventually” program that he was kindly enough calling a school. Trump is of the opinion that this suit against him is politically motivated, because…hm. He could be a somebody. He could be a contender. Instead of a bum, which is what everyone who notices that he is a bum makes of him on teh internets. But let’s hear what he has to say:
Oh. Wait. What does his spokesperson have to say?
“The attorney general has been angry because he felt that Mr. Trump and his various companies should have done much more for him in terms of fundraising,” Cohen said. “This entire investigation is politically motivated and it is a tremendous waste of taxpayers’ money.”
State Board of Elections records show Trump has spent more than $136,000 on New York campaigns since 2010. He contributed $12,500 to Schneiderman in October 2010, when Schneiderman was running for attorney general, records show. An outspoken conservative, Trump himself flirted with a presidential run last year.
“Donald Trump will not sit back and be extorted by anyone, including the attorney general,” Cohen said.
I am astonished that wealthy people in America donate to campaigns ever, or are concerned that their money bought them influence. Why do they even bother? It’s nonsense, is what it is. Clearly, extortion is that thing of when, you thought you bought protection, but oh no, You “bought” people who bring legal cases against things you might have done that were illegal like it was their job. Huh. Maybe attorney generals are not good investments if you are running a “get rich eventually” scheme.” Also not a good investment? The word “University”. Don’t bother copyrighting that one, you shan’t use it legally.
What I’m saying is, once (as in not) and future (as in not) Presidential Candidate Donald Trump is kind of a grifter. As in duh. But I bet he is still popular with the sort who likes his kind of…
Oh what the fuck—remember Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? (It was MTV Cribs for ‘80’s celebrities.) That’s all of his appeal. Otherwise seriously. Ask him about anything. Besides whether any politician is a legit citizen. And let the derp ensue. (Not that I think he won’t be faux elevated in the press again, because I do—which is why I point out his “duh”.)
You know who I’ve been seeing everywhere on the liberal blogs, lately? Markwayne Mullin. Now that the congress critters have returned to their districts, it’s always National Geographic-style fun to see them operating in their own habitats, but M-Squared is really giving great value for the attention. So far, he’s done climate science denial:
(May I direct Rep. Mullin to Ken Burn’s rather good take on the Dust Bowl—entirely worth anyone’s time, not least of all that of a representative from the great state of Oklahoma, where the wind does indeed come sweeping down the plains, all right.)
I had to run out at lunch time because there was nothing to eat in the house (well, nothing we wanted to eat), and I had a hankering for this Middle Eastern restaurant that puts some sort of addictive agent in the tabouli that makes you crave it fortnightly. My teenage daughter is flopping around the house for another month until school starts, and having never developed a tabouli addiction, she thinks a certain crappy sandwich from a crappy chain co-located with the local fuel emporium is haute cuisine and demands it weekly.
In an effort to accommodate her while also securing my tabouli fix—all within the space of half an hour so I could return home to conduct business—I hatched a plan: I would phone in my take-out order at the Middle Eastern joint, visit the drive-through ATM at the bank to obtain cash for my daughter, drop her off at the sandwich/gas station with cash so she could place her order and pay for it, swing by and pick up my lunch, then retrieve my daughter and go home to eat.
Well, of course they would be repaving the drive-through lanes at the bank, so we couldn’t just swoop through for the cash. I parked and walked up to the wall-mounted ATM outside the bank, probably for the first time in years.
There were three people ahead of me in line. We all waited a polite distance from the elderly lady who was actually at the ATM. The poor thing was clearly flummoxed by the sorcery required to get the machine to dispense money. I’m guessing she usually deals with the tellers in the drive-through bank with their quaint pneumatic tubes but was unable to access their services due to the repaving.
She inserted her card and tried to operate the touch screen from the keypad. She retrieved her card and reinserted it. She made bewildered noises and tapped her foot and randomly pressed buttons, each time ejecting and reinserting the card. Those of us in queue were willing to help, I think, but there’s an etiquette involved in ATM interactions among strangers, so we couldn’t just walk up to the secret screen, could we? I would have totally helped if she’d asked.
Tick-tock-tick-tock. Finally, I decided, awfuckit, I’d just go into the gas station/sandwich counter with the kid, pay for her damn lunch with my debit card and then go to the Middle Eastern place and pay for my tabouli with my card. So off we went. Luckily, there were only two people ahead of us at the sandwich counter. But when the woman right before us prepared to give her order, my heart sank as I saw her consult a clutch of sticky-notes affixed to separate piles of bills.
She was apparently ordering lunch for several people in her office, inspired by a combo coupon. There was much confusion around which items were actually eligible for the discount, and as she questioned the sandwich maker about it, I stifled the urge to offer to buy lunch for her entire goddamn office if she’d just make a fucking coherent fucking order already. Fuck!
When that crisis passed and the sandwiches were being assembled, the focus turned to individual preferences for sandwich toppings – preferences that struck us as insanely precise. For example, on one sandwich, mayonnaise was to be applied only to the side of the bread that was not touching cheese. On another six-inch sandwich, mustard was to be included only on a three-inch segment since two coworkers were splitting that one.
Once these instructions were carried out in precise detail and each sandwich was bagged, each had to be rung up and paid for separately, with change from every order deposited in separate compartments of the woman’s cavernous purse. In one case, a hefty percentage of the total price was to be paid in pennies, and she came up short, so she had to put that one on her personal credit card. I bet the orderer is STILL catching hell for it.
Finally, we ordered our one puny sandwich, paid and got the hell out of there. I joked to my daughter to look for the old lady at the ATM as we passed to see if she was still trying to extract money. She wasn’t at the ATM, but she was at the cash register of the Middle Eastern place, trying to figure out what to order. While we waited behind her to get our take-out, she asked the man behind the counter to explain what “kofta” is, expound on the ingredients in falafel and enlighten her on the mysteries of the rotating gyro log. Ultimately, she decided to take a menu and leave without ordering anything.
Outwardly, I was polite and impassive, but inwardly, I was seething with rage and impatience. Then I realized how stupid that was. I recalled a funny paragraph from “Cloud Atlas” from a character who experiences a forced exile from his past life:
“We—by whom I mean anyone over sixty—commit two offenses just by existing. One is Lack of Velocity. We drive too slowly, walk too slowly, talk too slowly. The world will do business with dictators, perverts, and drug barons of all stripes, but being slowed down it cannot abide. Our second offence is being Everyman’s memento mori. The world can only get comfy in shiny-eyed denial if we are out of sight.”
I was in a hurry, but that was my problem, not anyone else’s. The sandwich lady probably drew the short straw to place that asshole order for her office, was ordered to do so by an oppressive dick of a boss or was kind enough to take on such an obnoxious and thankless task out of the goodness of her heart.
The old lady at the ATM and House of Tabouli was just trying to figure things out. There’s no law requiring her to do so on my timetable. From now on, I’m just going to chill the fuck out about it. I hope.
*Yes, I know that translates into Rage Against the Automatic Teller Machine Machine. Work with me here.