"Bettina," Thomas Friedman said in his usual pompous manner, "how do you feel about a seaside get away?"
I was up to my elbows in dirty dish water as I worked my way through Thomas Friedman's dirty silk shorts. A seaside get away? You think I was about to turn that down?
I'm picturing rest & relaxation, a summer resort but "a seaside get away" to Thomas Friedman means . . . Coney Island. Possibly this inability to conceptualize in real life is reflected in the limited thought that goes into his columns?
The only thing worse than learning that a vacation billed as "a seaside get away" is actually a day trip to Coney Island was seeing Thomas Friedman's outfit.
Huge, round, black sun glasses, light blue (he called it "sky blue") plastic flip-flops, the infamous shorty robe ("Bettina, it's a vacation!") and a tan, tiny thong.
"You are not going out in public dressed like that!" I insisted.
"It's a vacation!" he screamed again. "Geez Bettina, you're so square, this is what all the kids wear today!"
"Thomas Friedman, were that true, you are not a kid."
"I look like one with my new highlights," Thomas Friedman said sticking his tongue out at me.
The blonder he gets, the dumber he gets. I know, I know. I immediately thought, "How can he get any dumber?"
I don't know how it's possible but it has happened.
And there was no way to persuade him to change into a more suitable, and less nausea inducing outfit.
We arrived at 9:40 a.m. and had 20 minutes until the pool opened. As we waited, he bounced up and down causing his shorty robe to fly up and attracting even more stares.
Again, I know, I know, how could anything attract more stares than the outfit itself? It's hard to believe, but it is true.
When the pool opened, he flung his robe off, tossed it to me and ran to the pool.
All around him, people pointed to his hairy butt cheeks and laughed.
When he emerged from the pool, finally, he asked me if I'd noticed how much joy his "mere presence brings to the local yokels?"
Telling him I did notice, I attempted to get him into his shorty robe as quickly as possible.
"It's the excitement of seeing a celebrity," Thomas Friedman confided as I pulled a sleeve up his arm.
"Bettina!" Thomas Friedman snapped. "I can put it on myself."
"Sorry," I said trying to think of a way to get him back into the robe, "it's just that you . . . look so good in it."
His eyebrows shot up, his lips pursed, and he tilted his head sideways for a moment before breaking out into a wide grin, pulling on the robe and strutting back and forth in front of me.
"See, Bettina, there is hope for you. You're finally starting to appreciate high fashion. Must be the fitted sheet you're wearing."
Rolling my eyes, I followed him as he headed for the rides attracting stares from every angle.
The Scream Machine. He just had to try it. As difficult as the day had already been, I didn't grasp that with Thomas Friedman even crap can turn to something worse.
Going up fifty feet in the air was easy enough. But Thomas Friedman was feeling impatient and decided, against my advice and everyone else's yelling, to stand up. Just as he did, the ride dropped fifty feet with Thomas Friedman screeching the entire way and struggling to hang onto the ride. In the process, first his sunglasses went flying, then his shorty robe flew up, then snagged on something, and finally was ripped right from his body.
On the ground, I tried to comfort him by telling him what a miracle it was that he had even survived but Thomas Friedman was having none of that as he stomped his feet and sobbed.
"My shorty robe! My beautiful shorty robe!"
Some kids had gathered around to watch the sight of a grown man sobbing and throwing a hissy fit.
"Look at the titty baby!" one kid hollered, attracting even more stares.
Thomas Friedman spun around to see who had said that.
"Oh my God, Mama, the man with the mustache has a bearded butt!"
Well, his butt cheeks are hairy. I mean, there's nothing I can add to that.
"Bearded butt! Bearded butt! Bearded butt!" everyone began chanting.
The world may not be flat but Thomas Friedman has a bearded butt and there it was, both cheeks, hanging out from the thong like some freakshow attraction.