Siobhan sent me a joke.
The famous Olympic skier Picabo Street (pronounced Pee-Ka-Boo) is not just an athlete…she is now a nurse currently working at the Intensive Care Unit of a large metropolitan hospital. She is not permitted to answer the hospital telephones any longer. It caused too much confusion when she would answer the phone and say,
A good clean joke is hard to find these days – pass it on! (Admit it… you’re smiling.)
I AM NOT SMILING! My horoscope said I should just stay calm, which immediately made me nervous. Then Siobhan, who loves children once they’re old enough to send out for booze and ammo, emailed me A BABY JOKE. I should have realized left was right, up was down and Daniel Ellsberg would speak here Wednesday, as if to remind the faculty it forgot to tell students who Daniel Ellsberg is and was – fear not, Stephen Colbert remembered. Now that all those children are not being left behind, it’s a good thing Comedy Central helps them catch up. Let’s all do our part, shall we?
Section 1. All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
Awesome. Since this was published before indoor plumbing, let’s hope that implied a safe distance and separate outhouses. Otherwise, the ground under our nation’s capital might shift uncomfortably at odd moments – like this week, when I suddenly understood why Elvis shot up televisions. Here we are using our giant brains to read the Constitution while men and women running for Congress seem unable to use theirs at all – and the electorate isn’t in great shape, either. In fact, a good part of the electorate sounds like we should have conned the grownups into pulling the plug ages ago. I’m not talking about people who have carefully reasoned ideas and vote them, liberal or conservative; people are entitled to opinions and, politically, feelings are facts. That’s fine by me. No, the citizens keeping me up nights are the mouthbreathers who consider politics boring, jury duty a burden, registering and voting less important than another trip to WalMart – the undecideds who can’t be bothered to acquaint themselves with the issues. A few weeks ago, I had this conversation with someone dear to me.
She: …I have to think of another way to get out of jury duty. With the job and the kids, I just can’t manage it.
Tata: Your kids are in school, right?
Tata: Don’t you have the kind of flexible job that lets you pick your own hours?
Tata: That’s your obligation as a citizen – jury duty. You take a book. You read for a few hours, break for lunch, read for a few hours. Then someone tells you you’ve got the crazy eyes and you’re excused, right? Or is that just me?
She: (Pause, as she hits ERASE on the conversation)…so I have to think of another way to get out of jury duty…
Initially, I thought Section 2 micromanaged a wee bit –
Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the state legislature.
No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of that state in which he shall be chosen.
Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct. The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the state of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse [sic] three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any state, the executive authority thereof shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers; and shall have the sole power of impeachment.
– then about an hour ago I found a student worker in my office trying to drink hot coffee out of a melting paper cup and what seemed simple wasn’t.
Tata: Dahhhhhhhhhhhling, can I persuade you to make a fresh pot of coffee?
Student: Sure! What do I do?
Tata: The coffee machine is unique and disaster-enhanced. First, take out a filter and find the coffee. Because ten cups fit into the pot, you put five scoops into the filter. Good job, lovey. Watch this door here, if you close it, water can go everywhere and you’ll feel like salmon swimming upstream to mop. It’ll happen very fast so be careful. I’ll be right back!
It’s true. I stupidly sashayed off because I thought my phone might be ringing and who am I to disappoint my public? About two minutes later, I returned.
Student: I can’t get it to go.
Tata: I don’t know what you mean, pet. The coffee pot appears full of coffee.
Student: Yes, but –
Suddenly, I knew. This young woman attending an accredited state university – very probably a high school graduate from a public school in a state that truly values education – had not emptied the coffee pot but had added fresh water to it and placed it on the burner. In doing so – and this is the part that made me fear for this poor soft thing in a world full of solid objects – she had expected the pot to empty itself through its non-porous glass surface into the coffee machine and generate coffee. I did what any reasonably compassionate registered voter whose horoscope had advised her to stay calm would have.
Tata: My pet, I know that in teaching you to make coffee I help you have coffee for a lifetime, and that’s just the kind of giving person I am. So. You empty “fresh water” into the body of the machine, replace the carafe quickly and press the ON button. We always have extra hot cups around here. Please throw away that waxy improvisation – however clever! – and use this special tool. And promise me, won’t you, you’ll stay for grad school..?