It was shaping up to be a peaceful period. I'm nervous about starting classes in June so I've already bought my books and started reading one, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal, which is wonderful. I've been reading a little, stopping to think. All that went out the window when my husband Thomas Friedman had a crying jag/fugue state that was so bad, I had to write a few of the columns.
That, itself, wasn't a problem. All I had to do was sit at the computer and ask myself, "WWID?"
(What Would Idiot Do?) I got to work in a reference to Riverbend of Baghad Burning. Otherwise, I just acted the stooge. (P.S. Even Gail Collins didn't notice that Thomas Friedman wasn't writing the columns.)
What caused the fugue? What caused my pleasant ride to screech to a halt?
At first I thought he might have ripped his silk shorty robe. He'd tossed it to the floor and collapsed next to it. I picked it up. It was dirty but otherwise, no problem. Okay, it was going to be hard getting the foundation off the neck. When did he start wearing foundation?
I asked myself that and then remembered the Friday night he spent peering the mirror examing his pores and not-so-fine lines. All that thinking must have tired him out because he stumbled to the bed and fell asleep face down. Since then, he sneaks a little on here and there. When Showtime aired "Liza With A Z!", he was in evening make up including mascara. He complained it was hard to hear "Miss M." over my laughing.
So it wasn't the shorty robe. Had we run out of canned cheese and Ritz crackers? No, that couldn't be it. The pantry was stocked with both. Had someone gotten possed on "Passions"? He's obsessed with that show lately. You can't call it a soap opera because he claims it has "global implications." He's obsessed with Whitney and the monk and torn over Sherridan's choice of Chris instead of Luis. Sounds like a soap opera to me.
So he's flat on the floor and I point out that if he were really hurting he would be curled into a ball.
He opens one eye and glares at me.
Then he snaps, "Like a ball? Like a globe? "The World Is Flat," Betinna, flat!"
Even at high drama, he has to plug his crappy book.
Bored, I sit on the couch and turn from "Saved By The Bell" which causes him to struggle to get up from the floor. When you're soft, flabby and large, it's not easy to go from prone to upright. It is, however, amusing to watch.
Thomas Friedman blamed it on his hot pink thong which he claimed was riding up.
Turning back to Screech and Slater, Thomas Friedman told me that the worst thing in the world had just happened.
"Oh my God," I think out loud, "we just nuked Iran."
"Worse, Betinna, far worse."
I'm trying not to picture doomsday scenarios and remember that this might have to do with his soap opera -- like Sherridan finally made a decision and stuck to it -- when he blurts it out.
"Nicky won the Pulitzer!"
"Well, good for him."
"Betinna, you are not grasping the situation. He won!"
"I'll call his wife and we'll have them over for dinner. But you are wearing more than a thong and short robe, no one needs your full moon every time you bend over in the middle of dinner."
He grabs me roughly by the shoulders and presses his face into mine. He's so close I can see the bags under his eyes that the foundation doesn't cover. I'm smelling the canned cheese on his breath and wondering if I need to give him make up lessons.
Hygene never took but maybe make up lessons will?
"He won! That means I lost!"
"Oh, Thomas Friedman," I sigh. "It's not a competition."
"It is! It is! It's a competion and I lost!"
Then he collapses to the floor for real, curls into a ball and doesn't speak for days.
Those were some of the best days of my life.
Then, Tuesday night, he snapped out of it.
He sprung from the floor with a speed and agility not characteristic of his girth.
Immediately, he began spinning a yarn of how he had lobbied the Pulitizer committee on Nicky K's behalf. He felt it was the least he could do for his protege. As his fantasy world unfolded, I started thinking, "My life is a really bad soap opera. With no sex and no hot guys taking off their shirts. Just a fat ass with both cheeks flapping in the wind, curtain cheeks that drape all over everything."
He sat down to write his column for Thursday (without thanking me for covering for him).
But nothing came. I figured this was like when we are bed and I know how that limp story ends, so I headed to the bedroom and went to sleep.
I awoke the next morning to find him in full crisis mode. He was puffing away on an unlit cigarette. A 100 so he wasn't exactly butching it up.
I could tell he'd been crying from the mascara patterns that had dried on his face. Very Tammy Faye despite what he was saying.
"I've come to a conclusion, Betinna. The world doesn't like manly men!" he shrieked, pacing back and forth, shorty robe flying in the wind.
"The world has turned agains the Bully Boy and now me!" he continued.
I tried picturing the two "manly men" in a mano-mano fight but all I could picture was him getting to third base with Bully Boy and I loathe Bully Boy but . . . I mean Thomas Friedman is kind of like the death penalty -- you don't wish him on your worst enemy.
This hatred of manly men was all the doing of the nonstop critiques by the likes of Gloria Steinem and two TV critics named Ava and C.I. It was a plot to destroy the last of the manly men, Thomas Friedman.
Well he would not be destroyed! No, he would beat them at their game. They wanted wimpy? He'd give them that. On the last point, we were finally in agreement. Which led to Thursday's column which is kind of anti-war in a sort of cover your own ass way -- which may be the only way he can write. Fine, but if he's going to cover his own ass in print, who's stopping him from doing the same in real life? (I know I'm not.)
Having finished it, all was good in the world again and he was ready for me to play Peggy Noonan (I hate the wig!) and him to play William Safire. I spent about two hours diapering him and rediapering him.
And that has been pretty much the last few days. If William Safire requires Depends, if -- big if, I find it hard to believe he'd greet Noonan with, "Peggy, Willie made boom-boom. Change my nappy." But every time I turned around, that's what I heard. That and how his no-war-on-Iran made him the sensitive type (among the neocons?) and he just knew the Pulitzer committee would now pull Nicky K's award and give it to "the great Thomas Friedman."
I'm waiting for the explosion that's sure to follow when another of his fantasies implodes. It won't be pretty. Things seldom are with Thomas Friedman.
the new york times
the common ills
the third estate sunday review
thomas friedman is a great man