Well, I Am Just A Modern Guy

Before I say anything else, let me just say I was not at all injured in any of the following antics, so please do not call the ASPCA. I am not an animal! I mean – of course, I’m an animal in a biological sense but that doesn’t mean I’m foregoing soup spoons and the cheese course to keep my paws off the table!

So I consulted anyone who would answer my email about what a 20-year-old Marine would want in a care package from a complete stranger. I assembled a shopping list and picked up bags of stuff. Siobhan and I sat in my living room Saturday night and talked about each little item – twice, in most cases because almost anything I picked up, I bought two. It was very exciting. I dumped shopping bags, divided things into His and Hers piles and sat between the piles. I looked back and forth between the piles. Siobhan got bored with my contemplation almost immediately and ordered sashimi to be delivered, which arrived really soon and was very delicious. No one was hurt in the shopping, surveying or the eating, as if these things were meant to be.

Section 2. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another state, shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime.

No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

This morning, I dragged shopping bags full of stuff to work. Actually, getting to the car was awfully exciting when I also had to put out trash and recycling and bring lunch. I always bring lunch. So it was not at all surprising that I forgot something. What was surprising was that what I forgot was to shut the passenger-side door, and that when I parked the car, the door was just resting gently against the car. Nothing had fallen out, nothing was missing, I still had all my fingers and toes. Look! A fucking miracle! Gleeful, I packed these following things into padded boxes addressed to My Marines.

Post-its
Ricola cough drops
Insoles
Notebook
moist towelettes
Deck of cards
Foot cream
Sour nerds
Floss
Instant macaroni & cheese
Body powder
Giant rubber bands
Pens
Tea bags, instant apple cider, cocoa
Nail clippers
Starburst
Gum
Lip balm
Cashews
Eye drops
hand sanitizer
moisturizer
lifesavers
beef jerky
Mrs. Dash lemon pepper
Bandaids
OB Tampons

Just for Her:
antiperspirant (I’d bought a six-pack at Costco for myself, so it was in the house.)
box of tampons

I learned a lot compiling these objects. For instance, I had no idea the technology of store brand macaroni and cheese had surpassed all common sense and gone instant. This suggests, from a cultural perspective, that people who do not know how to cook can ingest 350 empty calories almost before their brains have time to suggest a nutritious salad as a better meal option. Well, at least these kids are marching and suggestions about vegetables are made in the imperative.

Also, no matter what I saw in the stores, I had to think very hard about my own motives in choosing items to send. As I walked through the aisles, I asked myself why I was looking for certain items and why others didn’t interest me. Was I assuming my interest was the same as what theirs would be? No, I knew. Because of the age and generational differences between us, I forced myself to assume that what I would pick they would not, and vice versa. This was very exciting work for my brain. Further, my name appears nowhere on the packages and not on the notes I wrote them. My signature looks like a broken EKG. I wanted that package to be as close as it could be to coming from anyone in New Brunswick, and to that end I had to guard against Ego Creep. Every item in the shopping cart and eventually in the boxes took on enormous meaning when I started to think about it as the only package I might send. All things – my ego included – assumed ordinary proportions when taken as one package among others, and My Marines would get packages from their families that would be infinitely more important. Everything from me was simply extra. Of course, then I wished I’d boxed up a crate of snow globes and sock puppets because, you know, that would be funny. On the other hand, abdicating my position at the Center of the Universe however temporarily gave me a slight headache. Finally, I mailed the packages, which was gallingly expensive.

Poor Impulsives: our friends at Coalition of the Swilling inform us that more Marines need correspondents to selfishly apply possessive pronouns, i.e.: my and our. If I managed it, you can do it, and I recommend this exercise to anyone who’s feeling a little blue or isolated. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. You don’t have to wonder if you’re helping someone, because you are. It’s a quick project – zip, zip, zip! and you’re done. I hope some of you will make contact and send packages, and this brings me back to Me:

I am so sick to my stomach every time I see one of those God-forsaken yellow ribbon magnets I curse Tony Orlando, who – really – never did anything to Me. The same people who shout down dissenters with, “Support the troops, lowlife scum!” wouldn’t dream of lifting a hand as the Veterans’ Administration budget is cut, as the federal deficit – with which our future workforce must contend – mushrooms, and as the middle class is shredded. Time is not on our side. As a nation, we are repeating mistakes right and left that we will pay for for decades, but there’s one mistake we must not repeat. Soldiers returning from Vietnam were greeted with silence and shame, called terrible names and denied honor. Regardless of the mistakes our governing fathers make, let us not shame our children and in the process ourselves. Let us at least know we learned this desperately important something.

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You Rock Me Like A Pharoah

Pondering meaning and effect and so forth is not easy when you are small and covered with fur, but even an aggressive Nairing won’t necessarily clarify things. I worry that my life’s acquired knowledge may sum up to “Don’t scratch that.” It won’t look great embroidered onto pillows my great-grandchildren will cherish, which causes me to wonder if my grandparents considered such things – for instance when Grandpa took Daria and me to Unberto’s, pointed to a magical spot and said, “That’s where Joey Gallo was murdered, girls. Let’s sit at the bar and get calamari.” If Grandpa hadn’t joined the Choir Invisible 28 years ago, we might’ve learned a great deal from him, like why this particular murder rated a lunchdate with his tiny granddaughters, and whether there were other New York City crime scenes where we might get a decent sandwich.

This morning, Dad emailed the family at large this holiday decorating idea. I personally can’t see myself making up one of the wire molds for only one use. These things take up so much room in the closets! But they’re reusable, too, and I grudgingly agreed these cornucopia molds will come in handy as hat forms in the time to come when we skip due process altogether and return to burning unpopular persons in the public square. Even I can’t argue with that kind of versatility!

Section 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

Section 2. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another state, shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime.

No person held to service or labor in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.

This morning, Chuan appeared as if by magic in my cubicle doorway. Poof!

Chuan: Have ever sued anybody in small claims court?

I love this question! This is such a good question I’ve never asked anyone before but now must ask everyone. It is yet another thing I do not know, and I must!

Tata: Oooh, we’re asking personal questions! Okay, um, I feel a little unprepared. How about: On your last tax return, did you check the box that donates your refund to wildlife? Because they don’t have pockets –
Chuan: My former landlord isn’t exactly refusing to return my security deposit but they won’t give it to me, either.
Tata: While it was much more fun for me to ask pointless personal questions, I think you should phone the Housing Coalition in New Brunswick to get answers to real ones.

Oh snap! It’s like I learned something at last, though it surely wasn’t enough, because again today I visited New Jersey’s shining bureaucratic achievement Motor Vehicle Services for – what? – the third time this year, and for the third time I was told I was not adequately identifying myself. And now I want a cheeseburger. I can’t explain that. This time, I know something for absolutely certain: the individual screeners at the different offices are making up ID rules as it suits them, and I’m contemplating a complaint.

This is a very serious thing. It is a fact of life in New Jersey: Motor Vehicles will fuck with you. If you fuck with Motor Vehicles, you’d better be prepared to move out of state. I have to think this over a bit because – seriously – other than Manhattan or Provincetown, where am I going to move that pitchfork-wielding mobs won’t smell me from miles away?

Yesterday, Miss Sasha informed me of another serious thing I hadn’t heard before. Maybe it’s true, I don’t know. Mr. Sasha’s in the Air Force, so she’d certainly have better information than I do about All Things Care-Packagey, right? One thing they really need is OB Tampons, she said.

Tata: Even the boys?
Miss Sasha: Especially the boys. Tampons get stuffed into bullet wounds.
Tata: What? What are you talking about? Is that really a good idea?
Miss Sasha: Mommy –

All married and everything, she still calls me “Mommy.”

Miss Sasha: – it’s like in high school when wrestlers break their noses someone stuffs a tampon up there to stop the bleeding.
Tata: I will never look at The Rock and not wonder if he likes the plugs with plastic applicators.
Miss Sasha: And it’s even more important with bullet wounds to stop the bleeding really fast.
Tata: Okay, then. My Marines get the last tampons left over from before my hysterectomy because I’ll never need another one myself! Ha ha ha ha ha!
Miss Sasha: Bitch!

She calls me that, too.

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Have Love, Will Travel

Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

It’s amazes me that reading the Constitution has been for the most part a straight-forward exercise, and we’ve finished three of four sections. I’m thinking Mr. Scalia should drop and give us 20. I think we’ve earned those.

Meanwhile, back at Rancho Rococco, which is to say my happy one-bedroom apartment, I, which is to say I, am making up the shopping list for the mysterious figures I – again: I – think of as My Marines, one male and one female. Were it truly up to me, I’d mail them tickets home on Air Jamaica, but one doesn’t always get to choose the best gift options, and nowhere in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog does one find a six-pack of Skillful MidEast Diplomats, which is what these kids truly need. Yesterday, I sent out an email to a handful of my favorite people, asking the musical question, “What should I send them? How shall I send them?” I got a few responses but for the most part, even my very favorite people do not at all want to talk about this, which is interesting but not surprising. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

notebook
Kleenex
beef jerky
eye drops
nail clippers
lip balm
gum
candy
pens
writing paper/envelopes
tea
instant coffee
instant foods
bungee cords/giant twist ties
pads
tampons
tweezers
socks
gloves
scarf
razors
bandaids
floss
magnets/wall hooks
bandana
foot care stuff
herbed salt
scotch/duct tape
unscented moisturizer
puzzle magazine
Post-Its
Rolling Stone/People/Ya got me, what?

I’d assume my male Marine doesn’t require tampons but one hates to assume anything. Perhaps he could trade them for something he wants, like nail polish.

So, what do you think? Are items obviously missing from this list?

Update: My friend Theresa added:
deck of cards

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To Hold You, I’d Just As Soon Let You Go

Two days ago, I found myself in a ladies’ room in the library, staring at the door handle and willing someone walking by to push the door open. It was entirely reminiscent of the harrowing scene in The Aviator in which Leonardo DiCaprio’s Howard Hughes can’t figure out how to leave a men’s room without contaminating himself. Unlike Hughes, I eventually opt to pull open the door and leave. Since I realize what I’m doing borders on The Crazy, I march straight to Emily’s desk. Emily is in charge of reporting things that need attention to people who will report these attention-needing things to other people who can pay them attention. Thus, I report to Emily that the door handle on the inside of the ladies’ room must be cleaned or I will lose my tiny little mind. Emily reports this to Imelda, who cleans the ladies’ room. The two of them scope the facility and to Imelda’s credit don’t find anything to clean inside the stalls; Imelda does a bang-up job. Emily asks me to show her what I’m twitching about so we walk over to the ladies’ room, where I kick open the door, duck behind it and point. Dutifully, Emily dashes off to find Imelda. Grownups have been informed and I stop thinking about it until the next time I drink 24 ounces of water. That’s good for me, you know.

Section 2. The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; – to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; – to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; – to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; – to controversies between two or more states; – between a state and citizens of another state; – between citizens of different states; – between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be party, the Supreme Court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.

The trial of all crimes, except in cases of impeachment, shall be by jury; and such trial shall be held in the state where the said crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any state, the trial shall be at such place or places as the Congress may by law have directed.

Yesterday, Imelda appeared in my cubicle doorway.

Imelda: I know just what you were talking about. That door looks disgusting, doesn’t it? It sweats oil.
Tata: The door…sweats? Oil?
Imelda: I know what you thought it was. It looked disgusting.
Tata: Well, okay but that’s not why I freaked out.
Imelda: I know what you thought it was.
Tata: I’m so sorry – I know this sounds crazy. Ever find yourself in the ladies’ room when it was crowded? Sometimes you see someone walk out of a stall and head straight for the door without washing her hands?
Imelda: People are pigs. You’d be surprised what I find in those stalls.
Tata: So the other day, a whole bunch of girls didn’t wash their hands and each one of them grabbed that handle and left the bathroom and I couldn’t leave without touching that handle.
Imelda: Pigs! Anyway, it’s clean now.
Tata: Can’t say as much for the yucky people.

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Of A Friend, Of A Friend, Of A Friend, Of A Friend

This happens a lot:

Person 1: Blah blah blah pomplemeuse blah blah electrical outlet blah blah exploding Black Watch plaid.
Tata: I…what?
Person 1: Naturally, blah blah blah homogenization blah blah shopping cart blah blah the heartbreak of psoriasis.
Tata: Not for nothing, but I couldn’t connect these dots with a line painter and a road crew.

As I walk around in the world, trying to understand how important philosophical questions relate to everyday life, how my little actions reverberate through the world, how Taste Great and Less Filling ever coexisted, I learn things by what happens when I meet people with different priorities.

Tata: Thank you for taking it upon yourself to buy paper towels for our department, though that seems a little Snow Crash to me.
Jennifer: Oh, you’re welcome. What’s the matter?
Tata: Can I make a request, please? Can we use recycled paper towels from now on?
Emily: You don’t like the flowered border?
Jennifer: I had a coupon. This was on sale.
Tata: While the border is super-girlie for me, personally, I’d really like to talk about the recycled paper towels. They come in a variety of brands –
Jennifer: They’re in the grocery store?
Tata: Yes.
Emily: What about the flowered border?
Tata: Does anyone really need patterned paper towels?
Jennifer: How do I tell which brands are recycled?
Tata: It’ll say right on the label. They might cost a dollar or two more but I think it’s worth it to put fewer toxins into the environment.
Jennifer: Well, if that’s your priority, good for you.

Breathless and shocked, I walked away from this conversation before I shot my mouth off about selfishness, short-sightedness and an unbelievable disconnect from nature in a person who hikes the Adironidacks every weekend. Plus, I stomped back to my desk thinking, ‘How, in fucking 2006, does anyone not know recycled paper products are in the grocery store, and how can anyone with both oars in the water think she should overlook clearcutting for the sake of fucking flowered paper towels?

It was at that moment that I said to huffy Me, “Pet, you only switched to recycled last summer. You’ve made a reasonable request. Let’s let our co-workers find the path themselves and we’ll look for coupons.”

I know. I couldn’t believe it either. When I didn’t even consider punching anybody, I checked the name written in my underwear.

Section 1. The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behaviour, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a compensation, which shall not be diminished during their continuance in office.

Last year, I participated in a project at Coalition of the Swilling intended to send packages to a unit of Marines deployed in Iraq. There were rules and deadlines. It was extremely constructive for me to consider the human person in the human situation, to put aside my own feelings and consider the young man I would never meet. The Marine I sent a package to last year is not in Iraq anymore, which one hopes is good news, but the same unit is still there.

Perhaps this post sounds to you, Poor Impulsives, as if I accept this task with resignation and not joy, but that is merely my own failure with word-thingies. These feelings may appear mutually exclusive but that appearance is deceiving. I choose to consider that I am old enough to be the parents of these Marines, that what I want for the two given to me for this year’s project is a future in which they have the strength to choose constructive paths. I will set myself aside and think of them as whole human beings. This is a good stretch for anyone. Since I am exceptionally selfish, this is hard work I welcome. Then I’ll mail them Chapstick.

It’s hot there and lips do not exfoliate, you know. You have to help. Ow.

As you know, I have been against the wars from the beginning. I opposed every shot fired, every bomb dropped, every life lost. You can agree with me or disagree, it doesn’t matter. There is nothing to be said that will sway me even a little from my feeling that every instant of the current wars have been economically, environmentally, socially, politically, diplomatically, and spiritually catastrophic, and we will suffer the fallout for decades. There’s not a lot I can do, personally, to mitigate Iraqi and Afghani civilian suffering besides writing my congresscritters twice a day and three times on Sunday.

It would seem the one thing we can all agree on is that the troops are kids halfway around the world for months on end and in dangerous situations. I understand the position of people who feel those kids enlisted and whatever happens, well, whatever. I can’t be swayed to that position, either. There are many inhumane paths we could walk from here. Or we can choose empathy.

The good news is that Coalition for the Swilling has more Marines, and you can join this project. It’s not difficult and it is a great opportunity to reflect on the state of your own soul, if you believe in souls. If you don’t, you can still benefit from imagining what you’d want, sending it off and knowing you’ve paid it forward. No matter who you are and what you believe, your simple act can do some good in the world.

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This Blank Stare And That Don’t Carry

My brother Todd forwards a NJ news article his friends sent him because if Todd should get a hankering to move back he’d better be well-informed on the state of partying in the Garden State, and don’t worry. I am already deeply horrified that I’ve used the word party as a verb before the cocktail hour.

Nearly 50 teenagers, many of them believed to be students at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, are facing charges of underage drinking following a Saturday night party in Mountainside busted by local police. Charges were also lodged against the 51-year-old father of the teen throwing the party. Police found Stefan Puzyk upstairs in his bedroom while the beer was flowing from a keg in the garage and the teens were doing shots of Jagermeister, said Capt. Richard Osieja.

“I guess he didn’t care what was going on downstairs,” Osieja said, adding that the garage was stocked with assorted hard liquor.

School officials declined to comment on the incident, which involved boys and girls. Christy Guerra, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark, said officials were aware of the incident, but “because it happened off campus and on non-school hours, we can’t make a comment at this time.”

Oooooooh! Everybody’s in troub-le!

According to neighbors, Puzyk’s wife died several months ago. He lives at the Wood Valley Road home with his five sons; the teen attending Union Catholic may be the youngest, neighbors said. Puzyk, who was charged with allowing the serving of alcoholic beverages to minors, faces upward of a $500 fine and a maximum 30 days in jail, Osieja said.

Well, not so much, then. It gets better.

Police were summoned to the home after complaints from neighbors about the growing number of kids congregating at the house. When officers arrived shortly be fore 10 p.m., some of the teens were able to flee. But because many of them were congregating around the garage, police corralled them, holding them at the house until each one was identified and re leased to the custody of their parents, Osieja said. With home addresses in Union, Scotch Plains, Hillside, Edison, Woodbridge and Plainfield, police believe many of the teens were classmates at Union Catholic, Osieja said. While no charges were filed that night, borough police intend to pursue charges against those attending, Osieja said, noting that the teens face fines and a possible loss of driving privileges.

Todd can’t decide whether to pass out pony bottles or order these kids off his lawn.

Todd: It’s a different world and I, for one, am glad I came up during another era!
Tata: Except for their lack of a flight instinct, those kids would make excellent Jesuits.
Todd: No kidding, “COPS! RUN!”
Tata: It was a different world. And we were motivated not to explain anything to Mom…
Todd: Come on, now. I think she could appreciate the intricacies of fleeing from the law. Maybe not the reasons for fleeing from the law.
Tata: Right. She was happier when we successfully eluded capture. That’s a survival skill, you know.
Todd: She was happier when she didn’t know we were eluding capture. She was supposed to be here today, except she forgot to call me and let me know what she was doing. Have you talked to her lately?
Tata: Wait – what? You misplaced Mom?
Todd: I have not misplaced Mom per se. O.K., I…misplaced Mom. I talked to her on Saturday night as she was sitting down to dinner with Aunt Bea and Uncle Peter. I asked her if she was coming and she said that there was stuff to talk about. It’s Wednesday now.

Most people would panic. I dial Daria’s number because I sense an antic in the offing and leave this message: “Call me back IMMEDIATELY.’

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Before you ask: no, I do not at all care about underage drinking. Ninety minutes later, Daria calls back. I am already laughing.

Daria: What’s your emergency, damn it!
Tata: I called Mom because this morning Todd was like, “So, um, where’s Mom?” and I’m all like, “You misplaced Mom?” and he’s all, “No. Yup.”
Daria: Today’s the fifteenth and she was supposed to land.
Tata: Even though he lives at the end of the runway, LAX is still a two-hour drive. So I told her, “Say, Mom, Todd’s all like, ‘Mummy! Oh, Mummy! Will you complete strangers hold my ethereally beautiful infants while I attempt to determine if their Grandma’s trying on the wind sock?'”
Daria: What did she say?
Tata: “When did Todd become Hugh Grant?” and “Thank you for making that funny,” and “What was your name again?” That’s three of her usual Top Forty Hits. I feel bad for Todd.
Daria: See, your big mistake is thinking that if Mom said she was going to Los Angeles that she was actually going.
Tata: This is like when Dad used to say he was coming to visit from three states away and an hour after he was supposed to show up he’d call and say he was both jumping out of airplanes and up to his elbows in puff pastry.
Daria: Neither one of them is destination-oriented.
Tata: Our parents are crackpots, aren’t they?

Maybe they’ll buy us beer.

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Somebody Told Me Something About You

Old time soap operas featured organ music to add the slow-moving KA-POW! to otherwise punchy moments. If Nurse Jessie tells married Dr. Steve again This Week In 1962 that she’d love to meet him in the closet for a torrid – um – inventory, you can bet your homemaking butt there’s organ music playing in the background to signify her unrequited passion, just as in Slapshot, organ music plays under all kinds of significant moments until Paul Newman swats the organist and shouts, “DON’T EVER PLAY LADY OF SPAIN AGAIN!” I’m thinking of this because as I write Jaws is on AMC, and Quint is so musical. That’s how trains of thought travel. Then sometimes, they jump the tracks and crush the little mountain village. Woo! Woo! Splat! My tribe of artists, writers and dipsomaniacs is having trouble coping with Widows Gone Wild.

Tata: Paulie’s all upset because Madame Y is knocking fuschia cowboy boots with Mickey. I actually heard myself use the words “the Widow McCheese.”
Sharkey: A lot of people are upset!
Tata: Listen, after a two-year ordeal, maybe she’s hanging out with him precisely because no one takes him seriously.
Sharkey: It’s disgusting!
Tata: It’s human contact.
Sharkey: She was asking about me.
Tata: Looking for references, was she? It’s the perfect hair. You should carry around business cards listing your favorite products.
Sharkey: I can’t do that.
Tata: You mean Madame Y. I agree. On the other hand, people do strange things to cope with grief. Imagine who I’d sleep with if you dropped dead.
Sharkey: AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
Tata: Right. And you and I aren’t even dating.

Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States; he may require the opinion, in writing, of the principal officer in each of the executive departments, upon any subject relating to the duties of their respective offices, and he shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

The President shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session.

Far be it from me to deliver etiquette instructions to women who’ve lost husbands after terrible, prolonged and agonizing illnesses. I can’t even imagine their pain, their loneliness, their wardrobe demands. If they choose to play Lady of Spain with the entire chorus, I think we can expect to sometimes find ourselves loitering in the path of that drunken kickline. That’s been the case with the grief-stricken since time immemorial, and it’ll be true after my friends hang up their fishnets and quit getting tattoos. Walk a mile in her glitter hightops, that’s what I say, and puh-leeze, let me quit being the Voice of %&#@#! Reason.

All of this is a mere tempest in a teapot compared to real drama, like Tonya And Nancy: the Opera.

Composer Abigail Al-Doory says Tonya and Nancy: the Opera isn’t meant as parody. Bill tried to keep that in mind while watching Soprano Kristen Sargeant, clad in a bright red and sequined figure skating costume and matching boxing gloves and listening to an operatic chorus of reporters sing catchy phrases like, “Gillooly colluded.”

Never before have I wished an entire opera could be fed to sharks. Cue the organist!

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