When my 12-year old nephew brought home an “F” on a Math quiz the other day, his mother demanded an explanation.
Johnny scratched his head and shrugged his shoulders. His mother tapped her foot, folded her arms, scowled. “Well?”
“Now, settle down, settle down,” Johnny stalled. “I’m just a kid, it’s cold, and I’m trying to gather my thoughts.”
His mother thrust the “F” in his squinched face. “You better up-armour this grade, buster—and soon!”
“You go to school with the brain you’ve got,” he offered, “not with the brain you want.”
The very next day I was pulled over by an officer who wanted to notify me about my AWOL tail-light. When he asked to see my license and insurance papers, I said I didn’t have any. “You go for a drive with the papers you have,” I explained, “not the ones you want.”
“You bucking for a D.U.I.?” he asked.
I told him I was a Vegetarian.
He ordered me out of the car and asked me to walk a ruler-straight line.
I have never in my life walked a ruler-straight line.
When my Yiddish uncle bailed me out later that evening, he wanted to know if I was losing my mind.
“I think I am,” I assured him. “Fifty-nine million Republicans just elected a War Criminal and they’re calling it a landslide. The smartest eighty-seven million didn’t vote! This scion of Texas Oil says he’s got capital to spend, and I don’t have capital to buy the junk at Wal-Mart which the Chinese are selling us so they can buy our S.U.V.’s to add more poison to our air!”
He coughed and shrugged. “You can’t put up with a little poison? We buy, they sell. It’s good for the economy.”
”The guy they tapped for Homeland Security—Homeland Security! I’m telling you—has nanny problems and tax problems, and Giuliani—Giuliani! I’m telling you—thought this was a great guy and oughta be our Top Cop.”
“What’s that gotta do with you?” he says, rolling his eyes, his voice rising with a slight tremolo. “You still hafta follow the rules. You think they make the rules for you? Schlemiel! They make you for the rules! So, whadda ya want, anarchy?”
“I’ll settle for democracy--an honest election. I’ll settle for a little capital. I’ll settle for a recount.”
“You want you should live in Ukraine? You wanna wear orange and freeze your patooies? You wanna clap your hands over a fire in a garbage can with holes in your mittens in Kiev? Here we got freedom. You don’t like the channel, you switch it.”
“That’s the problem. Everything I switch to, looks the same. We used to have Women’s Liberation and it was Ms. This and Ms. That. Now we’ve got female TV news anchors and they all wanna look like Kelly Rippa.”
“That’s only on Fox. On PBS everyone looks the same. Male, female, old, young, Black, White—all the same.”
“And we’ve got garbage cans with fires here, too. And mittens with holes in them.”
“So whadda ya saying? You wanna live in Iraq?”
“Jesus Christ! Who said I wanna live in Iraq?”
“What’s Jesus Christ to do with it?”
“I don’t even want the Iraqis to live in Iraq. We messed it up. Goddamn Rumsfeld and Rice and Bush and Cheney and Wolfowitz messed it up.”
“So whadda ya want?”
“The Australians are for the Coalition, right? So we move all the Iraqis to Austalia. There’s plenty of room.”
“And if they complain?”
“No, the Iraqis. You think it’s easy to live with Crocodile Dundee?”
“If they don’t like it, we move the Aussies to the Red States.”
“Then what about the Blue States? Maybe they don’t like it—so many people in the Red States.”
“We move the Mexicans to the Blue States to even things out.”
“You got a plan for the Jews and the Palestinians?”
“Yeah, sure. There’s this drug called Ecstasy—makes everybody happy. We spray it all over Israel-Palestine. Instead of bombs, we spray Ecstasy. What could hurt? It’s a new kind of Drug War. Before long, they’re dancing in the streets--the Jews in burnooses and the Arabs in yarmulkas.”
“This is a plan?”
“Whadda we have now? You think we’ve got a plan now? You think Rummy and Cheney and Bush and Wolfie and Perle and Clinton and Pelosi and McCain have a plan?”
“I don’t know,” he sighs “I’m an old man. I’m gathering my thoughts.”
Gary Corseri has published 2 novels, 2 poetry collections, the Manifestations anthology [edited], and his work has appeared at Dissident Voice, CounterPunch, CommonDreams, AxisOfLogic, The New York Times, Village Voice, Redbook and elsewhere. His dramas have been presented at PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other articles by Gary Corseri
Mushroom Cloud in Morning Coffee