Thursday, June 4, 2009

Things Not Understood

I believe it is important to acknowledge one's lacunae.  I do not, for example, understand string theory, or the real differences between the Japanese shakuhachi and taiko musical notation systems. I don't know who first came up with Brussels sprouts or why they still exist. I admit to a total lack of knowledge and interest in most individuals or couples written about in Us magazine.

But these are of little importance in the great scheme of things. Sprouts, taiko, Us, none of these will have any bearing on my future. Other things that I don't understand, however, will.  Here are a few of them.

Cheney.  I don't understand why he is still around spreading his bile. I feel as if perhaps, were he waterboarded, he might (i) give up some of the state secrets he is still be holding on to, and (ii) shut up. Nor can I come up with a possible justification as to why anyone pays any attention to him. 

Closer to home, there's Newt Gingrich.  I mean that literally. Gingrich lives in northern Virginia a few blocks from my house and I've run into him at the McLean Family Restaurant a bunch of times. The former Republican House speaker, you might remember, ran for Congress in 1978 on the slogan, "Let Our Family Represent Your Family." (He was reportedly cheating on his first wife at the time). In 1995, an alleged mistress from that period, Anne Manning, told Vanity Fair's Gail Sheehy: "We had oral sex. He prefers that modus operandi because then he can say, 'I never slept with her.'" Gingrich obtained his first divorce in 1981, after forcing his wife, who had helped put him through graduate school, to haggle over the terms while she was in the hospital recovering from uterine cancer surgery. In 1999, he was disgraced again, having been caught in an affair with a 33-year-old congressional aide while spearheading the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton. More recently, he called Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a racist, then took it back.  Why is he even still around?

Guns and the NRA's stance against gun registration still manage to astound me after all these years. Assassinations, murder, mayhem. Four American presidents have been gunned down; we now routinely accept such events as the Colombine and Virginia Tech massacres; the US has more gun-related deaths per 100,000 people than any other country in the world. The House of Representatives recently approved a measure allowing people to bring concealed and loaded guns into the country's national parks. Meanwhile, American children are more at risk from firearms than the children of any other industrialized nation. In one year, firearms killed no children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 57 in Germany, 109 in France, 153 in Canada, and 5,285 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control. How can anyone in their right mind not accept the fact that guns, indeed, do kill people.

And last but not least, physicians, psychotherapists and psychopharmacologists who, at a time when the nation is trying to curb spiraling health costs, charge patients for five-minute office visits to renew prescriptions.  This is a scam, pure and simple. At $100 a pop, these medical miscreants cost insurance companies and insurees hundred of millions of dollars annually to provide a completely non-essential service. Off with their heads.

In the immortal words of Monsieur Malapropos, these are my opinions, and I share them.

Here's installment 93 of Wasted Miracles.

How are you, sweety?”

     They hugged and Catherine could feel her daughter shaking, then begin to sob. She stroked Josie’s hair, touched her forehead, leaned back to look into her eyes.

     “It’s nothing, Mom, just a slight fever. The doctor said it’s normal, part of the detoxing.” She laughed, a dry sound. “My body’s telling me it’s unhappy, as if I didn’t know.”

     “It’ll get better, darling. I promise.”

     Josie nodded, pulled back. “I know. Everybody tells me that. I’ll get through it. It’s not like it’s the first time. And I’m pretty tough, you know?”

     Catherine smiled. “Yes, I expect you are.”

     They were in the hospital cafeteria where the ARC patients took their meals. Josie’s plate, pushed to the side, held scattered remnants of salad and chopped meat. She toyed with a melting scoop of ice cream, her spoon turning small circles in the bowl.

     “He’s nice, your friend Colin. We had a talk. Did he tell you?”

     Catherine shook her head, no. “Whatever the two of you had to say to each other is private. I promised him I wouldn’t ask.”

     Josie shrugged. “Nothing very special; he asked me what I remembered, I told him. He wanted to know about Comfort, the thin one who brought me food. What he said tome. At first I couldn’t remember, then it started coming back...” She let the sentence trail.

     “That’s all?”

     “It’s not like we had a long relationship, Mom. I don’t remember Colin getting me out. What else were we supposed to talk about?”

     Catherine didn’t answer for a moment, then said, “I thought maybe you knew him, maybe you’d seen him at a meeting or something.”

     Josie nibbled at the ice cream, pushed it away, took another bite. “He’s your lover, isn’t he?”

     Catherine stared at her daughter, closed her eyes, opened them again. Josie put the spoon down. “Don’t look like that. I’ve known about it for a long time.”

     “About Colin?”

     Josie picked up the bowl, deposited it carefully in the center of her dinner plate. “No, I mean, not specifically. I’ve just known that there had to be somebody. And it wasn’t Dad.”

     Catherine looked down at the table, gathered her thoughts, blurted, “We’re getting divorced.”

     Josie smiled. “Yeah? Cool.”



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