"Say your damn prayers, Kristof," Thomas Friedman, the less and less great each day, to Nicky K.
If you're thinking the line should come along holding hands with "And reach for the sky!" then you're obviously late to the party.
It was a cook out. A picnic on the roof. It was Monday, the Fourth of July. Thomas Friedman was wearing his shorty robe but he'd long since tossed aside the "Kiss the Chef" apron. We'd had song, we'd had drama and now we were left overcooked burgers as a result of Thomas Friedman, overcooked to the point that one longed for merely "burned." I'd followed Mrs. K's lead and tossed my burger over the ledge. We were both eating cole slaw burgers utilizing the coleslaw Mrs. K had brought (ask her for the recipe, she makes wonderful cole slaw). Others weren't so fortunate.
Patti Nelson Limerick, a would be op-ed-ist, was along for reasons no one was clear on.
Proving herself to be a really round the way gal (or else just stupid, Mrs. K and I voted for the latter), Patti had plunged in "with both hands, gripping with all ten digits, to embrace and encompass that which both surrounds and penetrates." Lots of words, but get them out now, Patti, before your kneeling at the toilet and the bugers coming back up.
Since we were all paired up, Nicky & Mrs. K, myself and my husband Thomas Friedman, Patti was odd woman out, a title she's no doubt held for longer than any can remember.
Not wanting to offend Thomas Friedman or maybe just scared of another repeat of the last "you are so dead to me, Kristof" scene that played like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford on really bad benders as the words, fur, and soda crackers flew (largely into Nicky K's eye), Nicky K couldn't find it in him to say "No, no, I will not eat the burger!"
Patti's dithering smile revealed she'd lost a good portions of the crowns and caps as she merrily chomped away on the brick burger. Nicky K wasn't willing to sacrifice his own dental health but he didn't have it in him to stand up to Thomas Friedman. (Insert standard, self-aggrandizing Thomas Friedman boast here.) So Nicky K had stalled for time. Currently, we all waited for him to say the prayer he demanded necessary before he could eat the brick burger. After the saying of grace, it would get ugly.
"Our father, who art in heaven," Nicky K began bowing his head while Thomas Friedman grunted. "Thank you for this food. Please protect Judith and all the anonymice. Protect us from fact checkers and look kindly on even those of us who appear to create cab drivers out of thin air . . ."
On that part all eyes, went to Thomas Friedman who snorted.
"Kirstof, as usual, you waste too many words," Friedman complained. "Good eats, Great Man, thanks."
Friedman smiled at everyone including Patti who grinned at him vaguely, or maybe that's her natural look, with chipped teeth flashing.
"Me. I'm the great man," Thomas Friedman oh so modestly explained.
Patti burst out laughing. For a moment, I almost liked her. Almost.
"Yes, you are!" Patti squealed. "We all are, we tap into our inner psyches and navigate the emotional waters of our turgid souls in search of an elevated reason for the human condition that might we all acknowledge is life?"
As she waited for some sort of response, Thomas Friedman lept in.
"You had your prayers, sissy boy," Thomas Friedman said pointing at Nicky K, "now eat that burger."
We all leaned forward waiting to see what would happen. Would Nicky K cave? His wife hoped he wouldn't. I remember when I used to root for my husband too. A lot easier not to root for him when he is Thomas Friedman.
Nicky K pulled the brick burger up to his mouth. He opened his mouth. Good Lord, he was going to eat it! Didn't he learn anything from Patti losing both her caps and her own teeth?
No, he didn't.
He was going to chew.
He was about to bite down.
"I can't do it!" Nicky K cried out.
Thomas Friedman looked pissed.
"You will eat the fruits of my grill, Kristof," Thomas Friedman huffed.
"Of course, I will," Nicky K said breathlessly. "But I can't continue to the lie."
Thomas Friedman's bushy eyebrows went into twitching overdrive.
"What? What is this? I demand you tell me!"
"Bettina!" Nicky K said pointing at me.
Now all eyes were on me.
"She's stopped reading your columns!" Nicky K exclaimed.
Thomas Friedman gasped, clutched his chest and began jumping up and down while moaning. This was especially bothersome since he was wearing, remember, the shorty robe. For the "all over tan," remember? We were looking at Thomas and the Friedmans whether we wanted to or not. Patti seemed to want to.
While this was going on, Nicky K hurled his brick burger like a frisbee, no complete idiot he.
I heard the window across the street break but everyone was watching Thomas Friedman gasp and howl.
"Yes, it's true," I finally admitted just to end the drama before Thomas Friedman went completely Baby Jane on us. I knew I didn't want to know whatever happened to Baby Jane Friedman.
Long story short, I've been stuck reading every piece of drivel he types. Not just the columns themselves, but anything he writes. The other day, he wrote a letter to his mother. It started off "Dearest good mother, good because you birthed me, but not great because you aren't me,
How are you?" It only got worse.
Then he decided he'd try his hand at the Times crosswords. He's never managed to finish one yet but I'm still expected to look it over and say things like, "6 across, five letter word for what we all seek. 'PENIS.' Great job, Thomas Friedman." Now the word was clearly "PEACE" but you can't disagree with Thomas Friedman.
The Fourth of July was always one of my favorite holidays, what with the food, the fireworks, the day off. Now it's just the day when I got sentenced. Doing my time on OpEd Row.