In Which I channel the Late Rodney King

Perhaps you are feeling as I do these days…there is no light at the end of the tunnel and you might settle for it to be an oncoming locomotive. Things are topsy turvy. The electorate appears to be saying things which are significantly different from what the Congress is saying and, as my sainted father used to say at the drop of a really small hat, “All hell is breaking loose, boys!”

This morning while washing the dishes—where I do all my heavy-duty philosophical thinking and my deeply painful depressive future-casting (cf. Hypochondria, V. Miller in your standard desk reference)—I was visited by the invisible fairy of optimism. He/She/It upon the instant suggested that perhaps I really do love our country, carbuncles and all, and all its crabby, mean-spirited cave dwellers, complainers, whiners, zealots and preternaturally cheery loonies who find themselves within our borders in spite of their neighbors’ disdain for the way they eat, speak, mow their lawns, take out their trash, raise their children or vote.

The fairy of optimism dropped a follow-up piece of invisible baggage in the form of a metaphor which, oddly, made me feel better right in the face of evidence wholly to the contrary. It said: “We in America are just one unbelievably huge dysfunctional family no different in its makeup from the family which raised you and the families which raised everyone else.”

“Whoa, there, big fella”, I retorted as I wished I hadn’t used the heavyweight Le Creuset pot in which to bake macaroni and cheese. “How will that help?”

I got no direct answer, so I continued to hold the thought and wonder if The Family of Man (not meaning it in a gender-specific manner) could be a helpful way to try to look at what appears to be a real low point in our national existence. (Low compared to 1860-1865? What are you, a moron? Well, yes, but it sure seems like that war settled only the question of slavery and little else—which is not to say that is a minor accomplishment—but some of our secessish brothers and sisters appear to be at the very least less than reconstructed.)

Oh, well, I thought as I smiled to think of John McCain as the grandfather who hates everything and yearns for the life he lost right at the beginning of his adulthood. Instead of getting laid and learning how to get along with others, he was too busy staying alive. That can make any man a little hard to get along with. My Dad was never the same after WWII. He had a nervous tic that made him look as if he had St. Vitus dance. He went quiet and believed that he was robbed of a career in the USNR because of that huge bulge of Commanders in 1946.

Newt Gingrich is that slimy little uncle who teaches ethics at the community college whom no one really wants to invite for the holidays but we do anyway because he’s family and always brings a new wife and gives us loads to gossip about. We just don’t like to leave him alone with the teenage nieces just in case he’s not finished scouting. Nancy Pelosi is like Aunt Rachel who wears the pants in her family, constantly talks about making things better, but is so irascibly dedicated to her own dreams that no one can stand her and so she rarely gets what she wants. President Obama is the brother-in-law for whom everyone had fond hopes but never really had what mom called “gumption” enough to get out of his own way. But he is really charming and makes everyone feel better until after his or her naps after the turkey. Uncle Mitt? Actually a grandfather on our cousins’ side, not really related to anyone by blood. He likes to stare off into the crèche and you never want to ask him his version of the Bible because he will confuse the bejesus out of you. But he is really easy on the eyes and has great hair.

By the time I had gotten all the hardened cheese out of the inside of the heavy pot I had run through most of the central cast of characters in our current days of ick, including Chris Christie, who has to sit at the head of the table because nobody likes to be cramped in next to him. And he has great stories to tell. Only Grandma Clinton has the balls to tell him no more stuffing. She seems really tired these days and you get the feeling she would like to tear everyone at the table a new rectal section. But we all look to her because it is rumored she has some really good ideas and besides, she married our Grandpap Willie who keeps making googly eyes at Newt’s wives and trying to hug them under the mistletoe. Unfortunately Grandpap Willie is not at all fond of Uncle Barney Frank and his husband. And it makes seating at the holiday table a real hassle. “Get over it, Willie!” Grandma Hillary cries. “Stop being an idiot.” She is known for settling arguments that way. Brother Paul Ryan is something of a scold, a very severe young man who, it is generally agreed, takes himself way way too seriously after he was elected Homecoming King in High School.

I cannot say that this was a successful experiment, but it reminded me in ways I would rather not think about that we are a family and we were born into it just as much as the one whose DNA we carry. And, for us to cry, as we once did as youths, “I didn’t ask to be born into this family” well, that’s just as terminally dumbly immature now as it was when we threw our last adolescent tantrum.

We normally cut our family members (some of whom are real dicks and, in some cases, actually felonious dicks) more slack because they are ours. However, the more I start subtracting people from membership in my family, blood or national, the nastier I become. I am not suggesting that I oughta take a serial killer to lunch, but that is just the kind of moronic logic I use to keep from going to eat with you whom I do not know, but you just might be my cousin Marge or Marty and, like it or not, we are related.

Please pass the cranberries and don’t take any first!

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