I think we all know that I snit easily. Take just this morning (please!) and the snit I got into from someone (we'll call him "Tad") e-mailing me a nice note that ended with, "By the way, I love that you're a mommy." (Any use of proper punctuation is coincidental or has been added by me.) I replied, without being overly horrible about a grown man using the word "mommy"—since there was no need to get into What Exactly Was Wrong WithRonald Reagan this early in the game—"I'm not a mommy so much as a mom, since my son's 11," and added a sentence or two about my parenting philosophy—trying to make my son more independent, etc.—when Tad answered back, "You'll always be a mommy; that's the gift you received when you had your son."
Surely the guy was just trying to be nice. Am I an asshole? Was I reading way too much into it by seeing it as a man pompously correcting me—and infantilizing me with the cloying baby talk while he was at it—and determining for me my proper place in the world? That Tad, who's never met me, didn't listen to what I was saying, and had to spout homilies from Chicken Soup for the Soulto add insult to insult? He's gonna tell me what my "gifts" are? Him and his Dr. LauraVirgin Mother Mommy Cult?
I know I'm a knee-jerk feminist, but am I insane in the bargain?
I told him (nicely, for me) why it had bugged me, but took the blame on myself for being overly bitchy and said I truly hoped he had a good day. He responded that I had issues and clearly needed counseling and said it was no wonder I don't have a boyfriend. Then he thanked me for showing him early how ugly I was on the inside.
Hey, motherfucker, where's your Chicken Soup now?
This was at least the third guy on Yahoo Personals who'd told me I had issues. I was starting to believe them.
And that's when I started thinking about Harriet Miers.
* * *
"Mom!" I said. "I think I have issues, and I'm going to end up a 62-year-old spinster like Harriet Miers, and then everyone will snicker about why I never got married!"
"She's a lesbian," my mom explained sunnily. Yes, Miers' 1987 mullet was a bad idea.
"Well, people are going to think I'm a lesbian!" I said. "Or they're going to say, 'What kind of person is 62 and never got married?' like it's so not normal! I don't think she's a lesbian! I think Nathan Hecht just never married her because he was running around with Priscilla Owen, and she waited for him all those years, and it's supposed to be her fault he never married her! 'Too busy with her career,' my ass!"
"I think you'll get married," my mom said. "I think he'll be ugly, and he'll probably have money because I think it's important to you that a real man be successful and able to take care of things, and he'll love you and adore you exactly the way you are instead of trying to make you into that stupid mommy shit. Look at your cousin Caroline at her wedding: she was sucking Gary's fingers! She looooves him! She was kissing his neck on the dance floor! And he paid a lot of money for that beautiful wedding so they could have exactly what they wanted and didn't have to ask anybody, because he looooves her, and she's not sweet and soft! And you were right about that Tad guy: he's a disgusting asshole!"
I love my mom.
* * *
So I got in another fight (I am my mother's daughter), this time with Max. "I'm a Marine," Max boomed, presumably in the sense that once a Marine, always a Marine, since he's Santa-fat and has eight inches of biker beard jutting out of his chin. Max and I were having a charming conversation on the Swallow's patio, where I'd gone in a snit to stalk some folks who'd done me wrong, which, as you know, is most of them.
A most delicious car chase had just ended blocks from the door, with all of us whooping at the teevee each time we saw the perp pass another Laguna Niguel offramp. Somewhere close, he exited, flipped a bitch and leaped out of his car running. But he wasn't fast enough for SuperCop (clearly, no doughnuts), who caught up to the perp like he was taking a Sunday stroll and took him out with a lovely and effective flying tackle.
"Yay!" shouted we inside, and I went onto the patio to pass on the exciting car-chase news. That's when Max started in on the ACLU. Why? I don't know, because Max was very, very drunk, which I understand, but what I don't understand is why everyone's got a hard-on for the ACLU.
Max: Fuckin' ACLU!
Me: Hey, what's wrong with the ACLU? They defend everyone's rights, whether they agree with you or not! The Constitution is the most beautiful document in history, and they defendeveryone's constitutional rights, whether you're a liberal or a right-winger or a Nazi! Even if you're a total asshole, they'll defend your rights.
Max: They're only about letting minorities do whatever they want! Take South Central!
Me: Okay! What about it?
Max: All the criminals in South Central are black or Latino!
Me: Well . . .everyone in South Central is black or Latino, so, yes!
Max: If they arrest a white guy in South Central and give him special privileges because he's white, then they get in trouble.
Me: [. . .]
Max: I have a lot of friends who are black or Latino! [Begins a long tale of his Latino gunner, because he is very, very drunk.]
Me: Yes, you're a Marine. I totallybelieve that you have a lot of black and Latino friends. So . . . what's your point?
Max: My point is . . . I'm not racist!
* * *
And that's when I started thinking about Harriet Miers again. We're exactly alike, except that she's old and rough-looking and a fundamentalist Christian and George W. Bush's "work wife," and I'm young and pretty and have never had a mullet and don't ever remember anyone's birthday and have taken constitutional law.
Marbury v. Madison! Dred Scott! Griswold! Lemon v. Kurtzman!
What the hell is everybody's problem with fighting for our constitutional rights and due processes? Why did the Purdue Youth Opinion Polls of the 1950s and 1980s find that American kids think the Bill of Rights maybe doesn't include religious freedom if it's applied to non-Christians, and why were those kids so happy to let the fuzz in without a warrant so long as the fuzz were after blacks? Why is it up to, like, me and ChuckSchumer to give a fuck? Why the constant hate for the ACLU, which just opened up its first OC office, and I forgot to send a muffin basket? And what do we do about Harriet?
I don't know, frankly. The president did manage to confuse me but good. Nevada Democrat Harry Reid's for her? The far Right's losing its shit—and, without a drop of irony, is saying she hasn't made her views clear enough, even though when we said that all of three weeks ago vis--vis John Roberts we were "obstructionist" "scoundrels" and "scallywags"? Is their short-term memory truly so shot? And can I have some of that?
My pal Jim Washburn sent me a Carl Sandburg poem this week. It goes a littlesomething like this:
"I AM the people—the mob—the crowd—the mass. Do you know that all the great work of the world is done through me? I am the workingman, the inventor, the maker of the world's food and clothes. I am the audience that witnesses history. The Napoleons come from me and the Lincolns. They die. And then I send forth more Napoleons and Lincolns.
"I am the seed ground. I am a prairie that will stand for much plowing. Terrible storms pass over me. I forget. The best of me is sucked out and wasted. I forget. Everything but Death comes to me and makes me work and give up what I have. And I forget.
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"Sometimes I growl, shake myself and spatter a few red drops for history to remember. Then—I forget. When I, the People, learn to remember, when I, the People, use the lessons of yesterday and no longer forget who robbed me last year, who played me for a fool—then there will be no speaker in all the world say the name: 'The People,' with any fleck of a sneer in his voice or any far-off smile of derision. The mob—the crowd—the mass—will arrive then."
It's like Chicken Soup for Non-Assholes.