Saturday, April 16, 2005

It must be the scurvy talking

"Darn you, Thomas Friedman, quit being such a gloomy Gus."

That is what I said to my husband Thomas Friedman this evening.

I know all of the great things Thomas Friedman has done. The great things I have not memorized word for word, I have on the laminated bookmark Thomas Friedman made for me for quick reference: 50 Reasons Why Thomas Friedman Is the Greatests of the Greats.

But this evening, Thomas Friedman just got on my last nerve.

Thomas Friedman can say, "Oh Bettina, my moon worshiping third world child, you are feeling that way because of your monthly visitor."

Thomas Friedman can say that over and over if he wants. Thomas Friedman must have said that twenty times this evening and to be honest, it creeps me out. I have a period, not a monthly visitor.

I said, "Thomas Friedman, why must you speak in riddles? You make it sound like CPS is come to check on me. My monthly visitor? It is a period. Say what it is."

This just prompted Thomas Friedman to say I had PMS from my monthly visitor and that I got like this everytime it was time for my monthly visitor. I am not even on my period. I had my period when Thomas Friedman spent two days lying on the "vinatage linoleum" in the kitchen, curled up in a fetal position, sucking on his thumb and soiling himself. A period of time he now refers to as "primal scream therapy." There was nothing therapuetic about cleaning his mess off the kitchen floor, "vintage lineleum" or not.

But when Thomas Friedman gets an idea in his his head, he is right and everything just proves he is right even when, to anyone else, it proves he is wrong.

From the moment the paper was delivered this morning until he finally went to sleep tonight, Thomas Friedman has been moping around all day.

Nothing I say helps and is just one more reason why the world is against Thomas Friedman.

Finally, at six this evening, after he has not moved from that chair of his all day, I say, "Thomas Friedman, you are getting on my nerves."

Thomas Friedman's column schedule has been moved around. Now Thomas Friedman's column appears on Wednesdays and Fridays, I think. I should know because this is the only thing Thomas Friedman talks about but I really had to tune him out most of the day because I was not feeling very generous to him when every other minute he was griping about this.

"Paul Krugman! And two blowhards waxing on about taxes! No one wants to read that boring, old Europe shit in our post-9-11 world."

"Well," I say back to him, "that just means that people will read Thomas Friedman today because the other stuff is so boring. They will look at the page and be so happy that Thomas Friedman is on it saving them from the boring stuff."

No, Thomas Friedman, says they won't look at him at all.

Today, his column runs on the far right of the page and it is the fault of that "damn Gale Collins."
I am guessing he is so busy moping that he thinks this mighty wind blew his column over there.
Thomas Friedman is becoming so focused on this Gale Collins that he can think of nothing else.
At times, I start wishing this great gale would develop into something. Not a tsunami or a hurricane or anything that will hurt people, but something that would justify Thomas Friedman's constant obsession with it.

But his column is on the far right and "stupid Bettina even you should know" that readers eyes drift automatically to the left "not unlike this country unless we use the metaphorical ruler to rap them on their metaphorical wrists." So since readers eyes go to the left automatically, they will not notice Thomas Friedman at all.

He has been a gloomy Gus all day. And I made the mistake of saying, "Thomas Friedman, maybe you are just a little under the weather. Here, take some of my vitamins and see if that helps you."

Thomas Friedman has taken the entire bottle.

And my body must now crave the vitamin C it has so long been deprived of because all day long I have been feeling my skin is itching or crawling. Thomas Friedman suggested that I might have scurvy. And instead of thinking, "Oh Thomas Friedman must be right because he is always right," I ended up thinking, "For all the money he makes, why he insists on wearing those awful lime-green suits that look like he bought them off the rack at Sears, I will never know."

Or, "That mustache is not charming or cute and if he is going to try to pull it off, he should at least learn the importance of trimming it."

Or how about this? "Thomas Friedman uses a lot of words but in the end he really does not say anything and if his column is on the far right today, maybe that is because he belongs on the far right."

It must be the scurvy talking because everything he has done today irritates me.

At one point today when I again doubted the importance of where his column is placed, Thomas Friedman said to me, "Bettina, you are the only one who feels that way. Why, this morning, when I went to a Korean supermarket, the odd little creature behind the counter said, 'Thomas Friedman, you are a great man and you do not deserve to have your column run on the far right of the paper.' And when I hailed a cab this afternoon outside Manny's, the Pakistani cab driver said to me, 'Thomas Friedman, you are a great man and you do not deserve to have your column run on the far right of the paper.' Later, when I was standing in Central Park, a Guatamalan woman came up to me and said, 'Thomas Friedman, you are a great man and you do not deserve to have your column run on the far right of the paper.' So that, as they say, takes care of that."

I was just not in the mood for it.

I said, "Who is they! The they that say! And what is this nonsense about people talking to you! All the people you quote say exactly what you want to hear and speak exactly like you! And Thomas Friedman, you have not left that chair all day so do not tell me you have run into them because, other than a few dust bunnies under the chair, you could not have spoken to anyone today!"

Thomas Friedman's eye bulged as he whispered "Holy shit," put my bottle of vitamins up to his lips and took the last of them.

I was so mad because he had bogarted that bottle all day that I added, "And another thing! I do not think that I wore 300 count sheets in my village and if I did, I certainly did not wear ones like this with stains all over them. I think you are too cheap to let me spend money on dresses and so instead you continue to push these used, dirty sheets, purchased at Goodwill, off on me as my native dress!"

At least that shut Thomas Friedman up. He did not say another word to me all evening until he went to bed and he would look at me funny everytime I entered the room.

I am so tired from scrubbing the floors on my hands and knees and from squeezing his prunes for his fresh squeed prunes all day, and from doing his laundry in the kitchen sink because washing machines are "a sign of lazy character." I am tired from opening soy sauce packets and pouring them into a bottle.

I am tired of hearing, "Bettina, soda crackers now!" and having to stop whatever chore I am completing to run to the living room with a plate of his soda crackers and canned cheese which he says "does not taste right" and must have gone bad inside the can.

That does not stop him from eating it, oh no. Or asking for more.

And my scurvy must have given me a high fever because I keep having fantasies of living in a small apartment with an actual dishwasher and a vacuum cleaner and never having had to push one of those sweepers across the carpet. I am having fantasies of having my nails done and owning a Toyota. Surely we did not have cars in my mud hut village?

It must be the scurvy talking. Thomas Friedman's only words to me before going to bed tonight were, "First thing tomorrow, you are going by the pharmacy to pick up more pills."

I know I should be thinking, "The great Thomas Friedman is so concerned about my well being that it is the last thought on his brain before turning in. Not that Gale Collins that he is obsessed over, but me." Instead I just think, "I have scurvy and his lazy ass is sending me out on one more errand."

It must be the scurvy talking.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

No Calm Before the Storm, It Has Moved In

It was so ugly today that my ears are still ringing. Not just because Thomas Friedman boxed me on them as he said, "Bettina, don't be the global village idiot! We are having a discussion!"
It was not a discussion.

Nicky Kristof came over to try to reason with Thomas Friedman. At first, I was so mad. It had taken me all day Monday and most of Tuesday just to cajole Thomas Friedman off the kitchen floor. For hour upon hour, he remained there curled up in the fetal position, sucking his thumb.

I got him up finally and I bathed him and shaved him. I hauled his butt over to the computer and even then I could not go and clean up the mess he'd made of the kitchen. Oh no, because Thomas Friedman was still saying, "I am a fraud! I am a liar! There is no bigger fake in the world than me! I am the all time liar in the universe!"

I was so tired and, honestly, a little mad, that I shot back, "Quit bragging!"

That snapped him out of it. After he threw the mouse pad at him and after he got over the fact that it did not fly through the air, he began to type.

He worked forever on the title of the column saying, "I'll teach that Gale Collins a thing or two!" Finally he settled on "The Calm Before The Storm?" Which he said was he was of showing Gale Collins just who was boss. Thomas Friedman does not like bad weather, I guess.

He said he was throwing down the gigabyte gauntlet and then chuckled so I laughed today. Stretching, Thomas Friedman finally smiled and said, "I still got it."

At last I could clean the kitchen and it was a disaster. Thomas Friedman might not have moved for almost two days but rest assured his bowels did. With one hand, I cleaned, using the other hand to cover my mouth and nose. Even so I kept gagging.

But he hammered out a column and all was good. He even was in the mood for Iraqi invasion. He played Donald Rumsfeld and I was US troops because Thomas Friedman said he wanted to screw me over the way Rumsfeld had the troops.

At 1 point, he yelled, "No condoms! You hear that, Bettina! No body armor for you! Stuff happens!"

There was a time, early on, when the thought of birthing the great Thomas Friedman's child would have pleased me immensely. But now that I realize how much is involved in the upkeep and care of Thomas Friedman, if we had a child, I think I would be charged with child neglect.
Thomas Friedman is highly demanding.

So I was glad that today went much more smoothly.

But then, this afternoon, Nicky showed up.

"Thomas," he said, "I just read your column --"

"You and the rest of the world," said Thomas Friedman puffing on his bubble pipe.

"And I have to know, are we supporting the war again?"

"We always did," said Thomas Friedman.

"I can not bend this way and that," whimpered Nicky.

"Of course you can, you do it every day!"

At that point, it got ugly.

Nicky started arguing in a very high pitch and saying things like Thomas Friedman was dead and that the paper knew it and it was over and that is why no more Sundays for Thomas Friedman.

I am thinking Nicky was drunk or high or something because Thomas Friedman is not dead.
A little gassy most evenings, I think it is the canned cheese, but he is not dead.

Thomas Friedman began shouting Nicky down.

"Okay, okay," Nicky said finally, "I will be for the war again."

"Good," laughed Thomas Friedman, "We all missed your pom-poms and splits!"

Oh was Nicky mad. He started yelling how dare Thomas Friedman question his manhood and Thomas Friedman replied that he was not questioning it because "how do you question what is not there?"

Nicky was crying and Thomas Friedman looked so happy.

Then the shouting started back up.

"Please," I pleaded, "you two are friends."

That is when Thomas Friedman boxed my ears and told me that Thomas Friedman was Nicky's mentor, not his friend.

Nicky accused Thomas Friedman of being a racist and Thomas Friedman said, "Play the race card, Nicky, it's all you have left."

"You have nothing left!" screamed Nicky. "You are out of date."

"If I am so out of date, how come three cabbies today told me that they lived for each word I wrote. Why is it that the sanitation worker I met todays told me, 'Thomas Friedman, I live for every word you write.' While at a Chinese buffet, the owner came up and said to me, "Thomas Friedman, I live for every word you write."

I do not know what he is talking about. Having finally gotten all the stains out of his shorty robe last night, Thomas Friedman has been in it ever since and he has not left the apartment. Maybe he meant last week?

He told Nicky that he called his column "The Calm Before the Storm?" because he was about to go to town on Nicky and everyone else who had stabbed him in the back.

Nicky left with tears streaming.

I said, "Thomas Friedman, that seemed so cruel."

Thomas Friedman said, "Bettina, my little uninformed idiot, I fucked him over. That is what we do at the paper. Haven't you been paying attention to all of the rumors of cheating?"

I did not grasp the riddle. I was just glad that the yelling had stopped. My ears are still ringing.
I do not know how I will find the energy to play "Back Door" which is the game we play when Thomas Friedman plays Thomas Friedman and I play Nicky. I have been taking my vitamins two at a time all evening on the half-hour. I still do not think I am up for that.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

My husband Thomas Friedman says "The world is going to hell in an Enstrom's Gift Basket"

My husband Thomas Friedman says, "The world is going to hell in an Enstrom's gift basket!"

He has been furuious all morning and yelling and screaming things like, "The New York Times is the Hillary Duff of the global village attempting to pass itself off as the Meryl Streep!" I have never seen Thomas Friedman so mad.

Not even yesterday morning when I slept right through the alarm and was an hour late waking. I moved quickly to change his adult diaper from last name's game where he played William Safire and I played Peggy Noonan. But it was too late. Thomas Friedman had diaper rash, or adult diaper rash.

Thomas Friedman was so mad. He yelled and yelled no matter how I apologized. I said, "Maybe I did not take enough vitamins yesterday? I will go take some now. I will take the whole bottle." Thomas Friedman grabbed my arm and said, "Don't you Judy Garland out on me! I do not want to waste money on Betty Ford!"

I had no idea what that meant. I believe Judy Garland was the little girl in a movie dreaming about somewhere over a rainbow and that Betty Ford was married to a president. Rainbows and White Houses? Sometimes my husband Thomas Friedman speaks in riddles.

I was tired all day yesterday and kept trying to take my vitamins but Thomas Friedman kept saying I had a holler monkey on my back. That must be some new game he is playing, like Iraqi invasion, because everytime I checked, there was no monkey on my back.

But if I thought the day of adult diaper rash was bad, I had seen nothing. FYI, his heinie, though overly hairy, is fine now.

But Thomas Friedman is not fine now. He is so angry and so upset. Thomas Friedman is even swallowing my vitamins by the handful. I said, "Thomas Friedman, I thought you grew up with plenty of citrus. Why do you need so many vitamins?"

Thomas Friedman glared at me with squinted eyes and barked, "Kiss my ass!"

I dropped to my knees and started kissing, thinking, "Oh, he wants me to play Bill Keller again."
And I was saying, "Thomas Friedman, I am nothing but a glorified copy boy! A proof reader! I am not fit to print your columns! I am not fit to breathe air in a world whose most amazing natural resource is the great Thomas Friedman!"

I thought I was saying the things Thomas Friedman had taught me correctly but he pushed me away and stormed back and forth across the room with his flip flops flipping and flopping and his shorty robe riding up in the back.

He took my bottle of vitamins to his lips and emptied what was left into his mouth then threw it on the floor just like he does his socks, underwear, pants, shirt, tie and Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips. My husband Thomas Friedman can be sloppy but he always reminds me that it is part of his charm, "my quirky, endearing trait, my trademark, like the half-smile on the Mona Lisa or the beauty mark on Cindy Crawford." If you say so, Thomas Friedman.

In the kitchen he was hollering for me to get in there. I found him with a plate of his soda crackers and holding the can of cheese.

"Bettina, watch this," Thomas Friedman said to me as he took the can to a soda cracker and waited. No cheese came out.

He threw the can and it hit me in the forehead.

"You have been eating my snacks! Were it not for me, you would still be slaving away in Trenton and this is the thanks I get? You sneak through my snacks like Judy Miller stealing K-rations from sleeping soldiers!"

Trenton? Is that the name of the village I come from? I was thinking how musical it sounded. Tren-ton. And I was wondering if all my people lived in mud huts like Thomas Friedman has told me? I was trying to picture Dumb Asswipe, the man who must have been chief because Thomas Friedman is always saying, "Who taught you to do it that way? Dumb Asswipe!" or
"This meal is not fit to eat! Dumb Asswipe!"

But then soda crackers started flying in my face, pulling me from my reflections.

"No, Thomas Friedman, I did not eat your canned cheese," I insisted. "I know it is delicacy only fit for a great man like Thomas Friedman. I know that you say it is so costly that you can afford but one can a week. I know you work hard and deserve all the finer things in life and that I am grateful to merely sit beside you and reflect in your good taste."

"Stop repeating everything I have taught you!" Thomas Friedman yelled slamming the plate against a counter.

I was grateful I did not have another mess to clean. Nicky had once mocked the great Thomas Friedman for using styrofoam plates, bowls and cups. He had used words like PCBs which assume are some words from his native tongue. Thomas Friedman had snarled, "You are the McToxic here, Kristof!"

I felt so bad for Nicky because John Tierney had been over that night. He calls my husband Thomas Friedman "Big Tom" and Thomas Friedman calls him "Little John." And Little John had laughed and laughed at Nicky and spat out "Recycling is garbage!"

This had caused Thomas Friedman and Little John to start slamming their hands against the table as their laughter increased. Good sport Nicky (Thomas Friedman says Nicky is nothing if not a good sport) joined in the laughter saying that if two out of three believed something he was always happy to make it three out of three. Then he entertained us all with a story of a deadly tribe that was destroying the world, Nicky called them feminists, and all was fine.

My mind raced to that as I thought of how if Thomas Friedman had been using a glass plate, it would have shattered and I would have had to pick up the pieces. And what if a shard had been embedded into our "vintage linoleum?" I shudder at the thought because Thomas Friedman is made of greatness not money, as Thomas Friedman always says.

Thomas Friedman was on the floor pounding his fists against the "vintage linoleum" and sobbing.

He was screaming about this and that and I did not understand it all. Something was causing tremendous damage and wrecking the world, some sort of wind that I am guessing might turn into a hurricane. Thomas Friedman kept talking about this and damning it. "Damn Gale Collins!"
That is how much my husband Thomas Friedman cares for the world. A gale had reduced him to tears. He is such a caring man, I reminded myself as I rubbed the bump on my forehead from where the can of cheese hit.

The gale had blown the entire world into disarray. Thomas Friedman was fearful for everyone because although he is the most important and perfect person in the world, he cares for everyone. He brought up Little John and was saying things like, "Little John is not ready for this! This is the big leagues!" And I am guessing that Nicky was taking one of his brief stands because Thomas Friedman was screaming that Nicky had stabbed him in the back and was not up to Sundays.

"There, there, Thomas Friedman," I said pulling his shorty robe down to cover his ample rear.
"You always say 'Nicky caves quicker than Carter.' He will come around. He is your friend."

Thomas Friedman howled, 'Kristof is not my friend!"

Somehow this mighty gale was blowing through and tossing everything into chaos. This gale would somehow even effect his book sales. "The whole world is against me! Damn that Gale Collins!" I am guessing that in gales, like in hurricanes, people do not buy many new books.

I know Thomas Friedman was already angry that an actress had gotten all the attention last week and that his friend Blinky had not booked him on Face the Nation this morning. Is the whole world against Thomas Friedman?"

"Not me," I told him.

"Bettina, my backwater democracy grown ever stagnant," Thomas Friedman said wiping his eyes, "You do not understand! They have pulled me from Sundays! The biggest circulation day! They have moved me to Fridays! The only thing worse would be to be Mo Do being moved to Saturday when no one looks!"

Mo Do? I do not know. But I told him, "Come now, Thomas Friedman, everyone looks at you. You are the great Thomas Friedman. Why just this morning, when you went out into the hall to grab the morning paper in your shorty robe, did not the elderly woman next door shriek and scream? Because you are the great Thomas Friedman. That is why."

But Thomas Friedman did not answer me. He was curled in the fetal position and sucking his thumb. He has been that way for the last three hours and I am really starting to worry.

Thomas Friedman expects me to have the kitchen floor scrubbed each day before dinner and it is already half-past five.