When my husband Thomas Friedman stormed out last week, I did wonder briefly if he'd show up Thursday when we had a number of guests due for dinner.
The minute that word crossed my mind, I knew my husband Fat Ass, would show. As his ass and waistline demonstrate, he's never one to skip a meal.
Sure enough, there he was.
We'd sat down, the Nicky Ks, my friend Elaine, my neighbors Rebecca, Jess and Ty. I had just suggested to Ty that he carve the turkey when we all heard the front door open and the clickety-clop of high heels across the hard wood floors.
It was approaching.
And it was obvious in drag.
The only surprise was it was not alone.
It was accompanied by Gail Collins.
Failure and loneliness apparently make for strange bedfellows.
Collins made for a strange drag king. She had a flag on her lapel, a really ugly red tie that had obviously come from Sears, and a dark suit that wasn't black but was striped. For about ten seconds I stared attempting to figure out who the reject from The Big and Brainless Store was supposed to be. Then it hit me, Steny Hoyer. I think it was the snarky smile plastered on her face that gave it away.
Folling Gail Collins was Thomas Friedman.
With new highlights, high heels and a red jacket. That pretty much was it because he was wearing black tights. For a moment, I thought he was supposed to be Judy Garland but had forgotten the fedora.
I was dreading the performance of "Get Happy" and hoping it would come after we'd had time to digest our food.
Sipping her wine, Rebecca remarked, "I didn't know this was a costume party."
Thomas Friedman scowled as Gail Collins/Steny Hoyer pulled out a chair for him/her to sit his/her Fat Ass on. Attempting to ease the tension, Mrs. K observed that she had always enjoyed Nancy Reagan red.
Thomas Friedman was livid.
"Wrong Nancy, you simp!" Thomas Friedman sputtered. "It's Nancy Pelosi red, for your information, thank you very much."
He did this double snap as he said "for your information, thank you very much." I don't believe I've ever seen Nancy Pelosi do that but I've also never seen her on TV looking like a clown yet Thomas Friedman appeared to have applied his rouge with a spatula.
But Thomas Friedman's make up was not why we were all here. We also hadn't all gathered to laugh at his fat ass although that was a bit difficult not to do as the chair groaned and shook each time Thomas Friedman shifted even slightly.
We weren't there for Thanksgiving, really, believe it or not.
I'd invited my friends and the Nicky Ks.
My friends were there to get me through the dinner. Elaine also had an additional reason for being present. I wanted her keen observation and analytical skills at the table to make sure that someone was catching the nervous looks between Thomas Friedman and Nicky K.
The first one came when I stated, "You know I was thinking about Nicky K's Ford Pinto the other day."
Thomas Friedman's eyes bulged while Nicky K busied himself swirling his mashed potatoes nervously with his fork.
"His Ford Pinto?" Mrs. K asked. "I don't believe Nicky's had that car in years."
"I really don't remember it," Nicky K said staring more intently at his potatoes.
"Of course you do!" Mrs. K exclaimed. "He had that thing forever. It was the ugliest thing in the world and always breaking down. But his high school girlfriend told him he'd never amount to anything --"
This prompted a squeal of glee from Thomas Friedman.
"and broke up with him in that car so Nicky would always say that one day he was going to bump into her again and he wanted that car there."
"I really don't remember," Nicky K said, not looking up.
"Oh sure you do, Nicky. Remember the lining hung down over the driver's seat? It was always overheating so you kept a milk jug of water in the back seat. Every other time you'd start it would backfire so loudly people would hit the ground thinking it was a drive-by. Remember?"
Nicky K said nothing.
"I can't believe he's forgotten it," Mrs K said. "He had it forever. Said he was keeping it forever. Then one day, back in February of 2005, he just got rid of the car. I came home and he had a Lexus in the drive way. Don't get me wrong, I was happy to see it go, but it did surprise me. Why did you get rid of the Pinto, honey?"
"I don't think I ever owned a car like that," Nicky K mumbled.
"I believe your wife is confused," Thomas Friedman said in that pompous voice. "You had a Gremlin."
"That's right! I had a Gremlin!"
"No, honey," Mrs K corrected. "It was a Pinto. Remember, you called it your 'Pinto Bean'?"
"Betinna, where are the pies?" Thomas Friedman asked nervously.
"In the kitchen cooling. Eat your dinner. Have some greens. You know how stopped up your colon gets."
Thomas Friedman shot me a dirty look.
The conversation changed and Elaine and I exchanged a look.
I thought about how nervous talk of the Pinto made Nicky K. How insistent Thomas Friedman was that Nicky K never had a Pinto. How neither wanted to talk about.
"I think I remember a trip in the Pinto once," I said cutting off Thomas Friedman's lecture about what he, as Nancy Pelosi, would say to Hu Jintao, the president of China.
"Betinna," he hissed, "I'm talking about my idea for a Green Corps!"
"Your lipstick is smudged," I replied.
Alarmed, Thomas Friedman pulled out his compact while I steered the conversation back to the Pinto.
"Nicky K, did you ever give me a ride in the Pinto?"
"No!" Nicky K exclaimed nervously. "I got rid of it before you and Thomas Friedman were, uh, married."
"So you do remember it!" said Mrs. K nodding.
"Uh-yeah," Nicky said before looking over at a growling Thomas Friedman. "I mean, no. No, I don't. I just, uh, know I never gave Betinna a ride anywhere."
"Well that's nothing to brag about," Mrs. K declared shaking her head.
"No, you gave me a ride once," I said slowly.
"Betinna, for God's sake, stop badgering him!" Thomas Friedman huffed.
"Check your eye make up, one side looks off," I advised causing Thomas Friedman to open his compact again.
"But it wasn't just us," I explained to Nicky K. "I believe Thomas Friedman was there as well. I was riding in the back. Do you remember that?"
"No, no, I really don't," Nicky K said shoving a forkful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.
"You really don't?"
Instead of responding Nicky K pointed to his full mouth to beg off responding.
"Oh, Betinna, I am sorry," Mrs. K said in a consoling voice. "The seats in the front were uncomfortable enough, I can't imagine how awful it would be in the back seat."
"Actually, it was rather spacious, as though I was laying down instead of sitting."
"For God's sake, Betinna! No one's even commented on Gail Collins' suit! Does anyone even know she's here?"
Gail was about to pipe up but Rebecca cut her off.
"No, it's sort of like her work at the paper."
Gail Collins pursed her lips and then scowled.
"There is no reason to be so rude to such an attractive, mannish woman," Thomas Friedman snarled.
"When it comes to unibrows, she's up there with Dweezil Zappa. But in terms of Gail's contributions, we all know they were, unlike her eyebrows, miniscule. But, back to the Pinto, though I had plenty of leg room, I do remember feeling it was binding. Do you remember the ride now, Nicky K?"
"Good Lord, Betinna, stop badgering our guests. You're supposed to be the hostess," Thomas Friedman snapped.
"Oh, I am? Your outfit left me a little confused," I replied as Thomas Friedman and I shot dagger eyes at one another.
He blinked first which gave me the opportunity to offer, "I believe, Thomas Friedman, that you were in the car as well. For some reason, I'm thinking it was a trip out of state."
The blood appeared to drain out of Nicky's K's face as he stared first at me and then at Thomas Friedman.
Siezing control of the situation, Thomas Friedman used his hairy, chunky arm to sweep everything off the table.
As all the food, platters, plates, bowls, glasses and flatware crashed to the floor, Thomas Friedman howled, "This is the worst Thanksgiving ever!"
Rising quickly, Thomas Friedman grabbed Gail Collins by the arm and the two of them stormed out.
"What was that about?" Mrs K wondered. "Nicky, do you know?"
"What are you accusing me of?" Nicky K asked, his voice trembling, tears falling from his eyes.
"Oh, Nicky," Mrs K exclaimed with alarm. "Betinna, I think we're going to have leave. This was the first time Nicky's seen Thomas . . . all dolled up since Thomas kidnapped him. I think he's having a post-traumatic reaction. We're going to have to leave. Honey, do your breathing excercise and just remember when Betinna and I came to rescue you."
After everyone else left, Elaine helped me pick up the mess.
"Well?" I asked.
"They're hiding something. You don't remember anything other than being bound and carried in the back of the Pinto?"
"I'm going to toss out something here, would you consider hypnosis?"
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 24, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, over 200 die in Baghdad on Thursday, war resister John A. Rogowskyj Jr. finds that the US military feels no obligation to follow even their own written policy, Bully Boy's meet up in Jordan comes under attack, and is Nouri al-Maliki on the way out?
Starting with resistance within the US military. Conscientious objector John A. Rogowskyj Jr. was deployed to Iraq at the start of this month. The twenty-two-year-old Marine was deployed, as the Associated Press notes, after a Marine captain recommended he be discharged, after a major said he couldn't serve in compbat duty in June, because a D.V. Odell Jr. ("commander of the Fourth Marine Division") doesn't seem to grasp what a c.o. is the policy that the US military has on them. The AP notes that Odell, a major general, found Rogowskyj to be "theologically confused and [he] does not reflect any officially recognized faith group."
Take that, America's forefathers. The slow witted Odell Junior might also make some time to check out "Selective Service System: Fast Facts" which notes: "Beliefs which qualify a registrant for CO status may be religious in nature, but don't have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man's reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest." By the military's own guidelines, Odell Junior's statements are not only insulting but ignorant. "May be religious in nature, but don't have to be." Rogowskyj was deployed as a result of Odell Junior's failure to grasp the policies the military has set in place. There ought to be disciplinary actions for Odell (busted back down to a New Orleans post?). More likely, everyone will play stupid (well the tone is set from the Oval Office).
Edward Colimore (Philadelphia Inquirer) reports that Rogowskyj declares in the court papers: "I see now that I must separate from the military with all due haste, or suffer without the forgiveness of grace, for defying the truth that I see plainly before me, that violence as a means or end cannot be tolerated."
To repeat for the slow witted Odell Junior, who not only fails to grasp the freedom of religion clause in the Constitution but also fails to grasp official military policy, Rogowkyj need not belong to any church or faith, need not subscribe to Odell Junior's notions of 'old time religion,' in order to be granted c.o. status.
Rogowskyj signed up for the reserves in 2002 thinking he would be helping stateside during national emergencies.
In Iraq, yesterday the violence prompted ABC to break in to their daytime lineup with a breaking news announcement by Elizabeth Vargas on what is being called the most deadly attack in Iraq since the illegal war began. For which ABC got the usual number of complaints, though nothing like the concerned and outraged comments they received in 2003 when they broke in to announce that Bully Boy was carrying a fake turkey around a base in Iraq.
Kirk Semple (New York Times) reports that 144 people were killed. That number is incorrect today and was wrong yesterday as well when AFP reported that 152 were already dead. Today, All Headline News reports that the death toll is now 202, that at least 250 more are injured with doctors not expecting all to live and that "Officials said that the death toll could rise, as body parts and bodies are dispersed throughout the city and could not be counted." The BBC reports that "at least three" car bombs were used in the cooridnated attacks on Thursday followed by mortar rounds and quotes photo journalist Kareem al-Rubaie on witnessing the violence, "I saw a car from a wedding party, covered in ribbons and flowers. It was burning. There were pools of blood on the street and children dead on the ground." Reuters places the number of bombs at six. CNN reported Thursday: "Thursday's attacks, launched within the course of half an hour, were part of a spasm of violence that shook two Baghdad bastions of support for anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- the Sadr City slum in the Iraqi capital's northeast and the Health Ministry compound, controlled by the cleric's political movement."
The BBC reports that Baghdad is now under curfew and the Baghdad Airport has been closed. Reuters states that all vehicle traffic is banned in Baghdad for Saturday as well. AFP adds that the airport in Basra has been closed as well as well as "its southern seaports."The 202 dead and counting from Thursday's attack surpasses the previous reported most violent day in Iraq. The BBC notes September 14, 2005 as a day when there were 182 reported deaths in Baghdad.
As if the violence on Thursday wasn't bad enough, rumors floated that Dick Cheney was in Iraq on Thursday. CBS and AP report that the White House denies those rumors. Current rumor is that Cheney was supposed to be in Baghdad and the press would be alerted after landing; however, the violence on Thursday resulted in the trip being cancelled.
Press reports continue to caution that Iraq might be on the brink of civil war which leaves one wondering how they might have reported Sherman's March to the Sea?
The violence and chaos continued today.
CBS and AP report that a mortar attack was launched at the Association of Muslim Scholars in Baghdad leaving four guards injured. This is seen as a retaliation for Thursday's attack as are the multiple attacks, noted by Al Jazeera, in the Hurriay district of Baghdad that targeted "four Sunni Mosques with rocket-propelled grenades" and claimed the lives of at least thirty. Reuters reports one dead and two wounded from mortar attacks in Diwaniya and the bombing of "an office of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's . . . in . . . Baquba". CNN reports that a man set off a bomb "strapped to his body" and one in his car in a parking lot in Tal Afar and killed at least 22 people while wounding 30 more.
Reuters reports that at least two funeral goers are wounded in Baghdad after a US helicopter fired on a funeral.
Reuters reports that thirty corpses were discovered in Baghdad while three were discovered in Mosul. Reporting on Wednesday's UN report, Sabrina Tavernise (New York Times) noted that, in the September and October period studied by the UN, "Sixty-five percent of all deaths in Baghdad were categorized as unindentified corpses, the signature of militias, who kidnap, kill and throw away bodies at a rate that now outstrips the slaughter inflicted by suicide bombers."They do so even when the capitol is under 'curfew' (and the never ending 'crackdown').
In addition, AP reports: "Militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive as Iraqi soldiers stood by, and seven Sunni mosques came under attack as Shiites took revenge for the slaughter of 215 people in the Sadr City slum."
The BBC reports the death of a British solider in Basra and notes that 126 British soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. The British military announces: "The soldier sustained gunshot wounds during the operation and was evacuated to a nearby military hospital. Despite the best possible medical care, the soldier later died from his injuries. The soldier was a member of the Parachute Regiment, on secondment to Headquarters Multinational Division South East, Iraq."
Thursday's attacks and today's is having ripple effects in Iraq that go beyond bombs and bullets.
Tuesday, Charles Wolfson (CBS) reported on next week's planned meet up in Jordan between Bully Boy and puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki. The meet up was quickly announced following the announcement of al-Maliki going to Tehran for a Saturday meeting with the presidents of Iran and Syria. The meet up with the Bully Boy is now in question.
CNN reports that, today, "Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc threatened to withdraw support for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki should he meet President Bush as planned next week" and quotes spokesperson Salih al-Aleiki stating: "We announce that if the security situation and the basic services do not improve, and if the prime minister goes ahead and meets with the criminal Bush in Amman, then we will suspend our memberships with the Iraqi parliament and the government." As Robin Stringer (Bloomberg News) notes, it's not an idle threat: "The United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shiite political parties, won 128 of the 275 seats in the Iraqi parliament in December's elections." Should the al-Sadr block withdraw their support, the United Iraqi Alliance would fall from a 128 member bloc to a 98 member one. That's on the condition that all 98 remain behind al-Maliki -- should he find new support his bloc could increase. The second largest bloc, with 53 members, is the Democratic Patriotic Alliance of Kurdistan which successfully backed (with US support) Jalal Talabani for president of Iraq.
The above follows on the heels of Tom Hayden's report (for Common Dreams) that the US is putting out feelers for new governing officials in Iraq which could include the disposing of al-Maliki.
john rogowskyj jr.
the new york times