"Stop pestering me with questions!" screamed Thomas Friedman in the middle of last week. By Thursday, when it was twenty minutes before his column was due, he was blaming me for the fact that he couldn't think of anything to write.
"Oh, do what you always do! Invent something!" I hollered back at him.
Reading his "Outsourcing, Schmoutsourcing! Out Is Over" Friday, I saw he did just that. It was part insta-column, part Friedman's "Greatest Hits" -- a CD padded out with really medicore tracks. He was phoning it in. He invented characters and he went with the topic he thinks he's the expert on.
When he refused to answer my questions about the Nicky K reference, I pointed out that when he invents someone, he might want to think it through a little better.
"After all, for weeks you've been lamenting the state of the sciences and there you are jawboning that an engineer becoming a limo driver is 'progress,'" I sneered.
That hurt. I know because he said to me, "Betinna, that hurt."
He moped for days. He refused to answer my questions.
"You have hurt me," he said waving a hand.
It didn't hurt his appetite. We're having to buy his canned cheese by the case. I've started to wonder if it's giving him cramps. (The gas he already had.) For three nights, he tossed and turned. One night he said, "Let's buy her!"
I bolted upright in bed and stared down at his pudgy face. He sleeps with two pillows propped under his head so you can't even make out the end of his chin, it's all waddle.
"Look at her!" he murmered excitedly in his sleep. "Let's buy her!"
That pig. I can't believe he's been sleeping with prostitutes. Well, I shouldn't be surprised. I mean look at him, he'd have to pay -- or I guess he'd call that "outsourcing" someone's duties -- mine?
Have at it, Fat Boy. Outsource my duties all you want.
But staring at his jowls, I realized how little I knew my husband Thomas Friedman and how little I knew of him.
Back when he had my doped up on those "vitamins," I thought the sun rose and sat on his fat ass. Put on the Judy Miller wig? Sure thing. Put on the Peggy Noonan mask? Sure thing. Play Bill Keller and kiss your ass? Sure thing.
He was happy then. Not with me, he was still critical of me. Running me down, trashing the "backwater village" I hail from. Watching him mutter "Mmmm, that's good cheese," I was tempted to pull one of the pillows out from under his head and slowly smother him with it.
I might have to if it weren't for the fact that a) I want some answers and b) that pig's paying for my college education. After all I've had to put up with, he can damn well pay my tuition until I graduate.
I'll ride this marriage out until I get the diploma. Maybe I'll even be validictorian and give a speech like Jean Rohe did, only instead of John McCain, I'll zero in on Thomas Friedman?
I just find him so disgusting these days. Even him sitting on the couch near me, not next to me, is enough to grate on my nerves. I'll hear him panting (he's a mouth breather and any activity at all causes him to pant) and just want to snap at him, "Do you have to make all that noise!"
I also feel that for all his touted intellect (touted by him), he's not that smart. I'm honestly embarrassed by him. Take Friday's column. It wasn't funny, it wasn't needed. With the UNICEF report on malnutrition in Iraq coming out days before, why did he think anyone needed to hear him go on and on about outsourcing again? It's like being married to Dustin Hoffman in "Rain Man."
As soon as I got off those vitamins (and started slipping them to him shortly after), everything became a lot clearer to me. I started noticing a lot more. Like how all of his comments are really simplistic. It was probably when I started participating in protests against the war that I realized how useless and disgusting he truly was. He helped sell the war and he's never been held accountable.
I was thinking about all of that today when I sat down to watch "Democracy Now!" He was missing one of the video cassettes, on which he'd taped every episode of "Saved By The Bell,"
so he was mainly rushing around the living room looking for it while complaining, "Betinna, this is the one where Slater wears a bathing suit!" I ignored him and turned the TV to "Democracy Now!" Arundhati Roy was the guest.
He was fretting over Slater in, I'm guessing, a bikini brief and how that moment might be lost forever when all the sudden he heard his name.
Arundhati Roy was explaining the type of news they get from America in India, "Well, in India, I think you get FOX News and CNN and, of course, the BBC. But also a lot of newspapers in India do publish American columnists, famously Thomas Friedman."
His chest puffed out so wide that the belt to his shorty robe popped loose.
"I love a good news show," he said plopping down on the couch beside me.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest today for the hour is Arundhati Roy. She just recently flew in from New Delhi, India. She is the author of a number of books, her Booker Prize award-winning book, "The God of Small Things", and then her books of essays, "The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire", "The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile" among them. Arundhati, you were just talking about what is happening in India. Thomas Friedman, the well-known, much-read "New York Times" columnist and author, talks about the call center being a perfect symbol of globalization in a very positive sense.
"Much read," Thomas Friedman chuckled. "See, Betinna, she does want me on her show. Maybe I should have my people call her."
"Your people?" I asked annoyed that he was interrupting.
"Yes, you. You are my people."
"Oh shut up," I told him.
ARUNDHATI ROY: Yes, it is the perfect symbol, I think, in many ways. I wish Friedman would spend some time working in one. But I think it's a very interesting issue, the call center, because, you know, let's not get into the psychosis that takes place inside a call center, the fact that you have people working, you know, according to a different body clock and all that and the languages and the fact that you have to de-identify yourself.
"You know," Thomas Friedman said, not shutting up, "she may have a point. I bet I could spend a day or two at a call center and have a wonderful book. I could write about how little Jose can go from speaking with Miguel in Spanish one moment and then answer the phone and speak in fluent English."
"Spanish isn't the native tongue of India," I hissed. "Besides, she was making fun of you."
"I'm sure you're mistaken," he replied. "I have many fans. From all over the world."
"Yeah," I snapped back, "but these fans, are any of them that the rest of us can see!"
"Well, I never," Thomas Friedman huffed.
Aruhndhati Roy was speaking. She said, "We have the highest number of custodial deaths in the world. And we have Thomas Friedman going on and on about how this is an idealistic -- ideal society, a tolerant society. Hundreds -- I mean, tens of thousands of people killed in Kashmir. All over the northeast, you have the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, where a junior noncommissioned officer can shoot at sight. And that is the democracy in which we live."
"Betinna!" Thomas Friedman whined, his voice climing several octives as he said the one word, "I don't think she likes me!"
"She doesn't. No one does. Shut up and let me watch this."
Thomas Friedman stared at me for a moment, his bottom lip trembling, his eyes welling with tears.
"WWWAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" he suddenly spat out.
Then he was on the carpet, face down, pounding his fists into the floor.
Figuring he'd tired himself out, I ignored him; however, when the show went off, I saw that he was still at it.
Stepping over him, I headed for the kitchen and called back to see if he wanted a grilled cheese sandwich?
He just kept crying and pounding.
"Turn off the water works, you big titty-baby, or I'm not making you lunch."
"You are a cruel, cruel woman!" Thomas Friedman said rushing up behind me.
I turned around and looked at his blood-red yes, red from crying. I noticed the snot dripping from his nose and landing on that John Bolton-like mustache. Does he ever clean that?
"I cannot live in a world where I am abused!" he moaned.
"Well keep it together for a few more days, we've got company coming over for Memorial Day and I've already made the cole slaw," I said jerking my arm free from his grip.
"You cruel, cruel woman," he muttered.
"Knock it off, Banarama. Do you want a grilled cheese sandwich or not?"
"I want a little respect," Thomas Friedman pouted, wiping his nose on the hem of his shorty robe.
Yeah, that'll get him respect.
"Betinna, this Arundhati Roy, this French woman, she insulted me. Your husband! She insulted me."
"She isn't French," I said plopping some butter into the skillet. "And if you think she insulted you, you better start praying I never write a book about you. I might call it 'His Head Is Fat.'"
Thomas Friedman gasped.
Looking over my shoulder, I saw that he had both sets of fingers in his mouth, biting nervously.
"Betinna, you wouldn't dare!"
"Don't push me," I declared as I put some bread into the skillet. "Just don't push me."
Screaming, he flew out of the kitchen and moments later I heard the front door slam. All I could think was, "I hope he finished tomorrow's column. Rent's almost due."
thomas friedman is a great man
the new york times
the common ills
saved by the bell