Friday, April 22, 2005

The Beef Sizzles on the Grill

The Beef Sizzles on the Grill. That was what I titled Thomas Friedman's column that the paper ran today. I wish they had gone with my title. Thursday, Thomas Friedman was jazzercising and backed into the gas heater. Burned his big old heinie.

I was writing the column at the time and after I got done spraying his rump with Bactine, I thought, "The Beef Sizzles on the Grill," that is the title.

So Thomas Friedman greets me Thursday morning waving three bottles of vitamins in front of me. "Do you want these, Bettina?" Of course I did. I could have one bottle before the column, one bottle while I wrote the column and one bottle after.

I wish my body did not crave the vitamin C so much. But it does. Who would have thought that something you have gone your whole life without could become so important once you were introduced to it? I said that Thomas Friedman and he said, "The global econmy! Just as the people living in huts do not know of Old Navy, when it comes to their area, they must have it because the world is flat and . . ."

"Who is writing this column, Thomas Friedman?"

He stopped dicatating and asked me what I needed. I asked for a manual. Finally, he showed up with the New York Times ethics guidelines. So I read that and found out that op-ed writers for the Times could not endorse a candidate. Knowing how wiley Thomas Friedman is, I thought, "There it is! He will endorse Tony Blair and even though his column will be carried overseas, he will not get in trouble because he is the great Thomas Friedman. It is as though he is grabbing the hem of his shorty robe and mooning the world."

I figured Thomas Friedman could identify with Tony Blair for a number of reason, chief among them the fact that both are goofy looking men with strange teeth whose wives are far more interesting than they could ever be.

I actually said that to Thomas Friedman and he laughed, "Oh my little, saucy, tropical Tina Brown, everyone knows who is the Sir Harold Evans in this marriage."

I don't know about that but I do know if they made a moving picture of our lives, I know who would be played by Halle Berry and who would be played by Rick Moranis.

I also figured Thomas Friedman would identify with Tony Blair because they both lack frineds. So when I wrote that the left didn't like Blair and the right didn't either, I was really talking about Thomas Friedman.

When I wrote, "Tony Blair, by contrast, dines alone," I'm really talking about Thomas Friedman, there too. And how did I think up the "dined alone?" Easy, while I was writing, Thomas Friedman was jazzercising to Cher and kept bleating, "Sooner or later, we all sleep alone."

Thomas Friedman strongly identifies with Cher. He feels they are both "dark beauties" who've had a lot to overcome. I don't know about that comparison. For one thing, when Cher wears one of those jaw dropping outfits, she's trying to shock you. Thomas Friedman, on the other hand, truly thinks those polyester suits from Sears, circa the late-seventies, are the height of fashion.

There's also the fact that Cher overcame Sonny and Sonny didn't overcome Cher so I'm having a hard time seeing Thomas Friedman as Cher. Was that confusing? I fear I have written like him so long that I am unable to write clearly anymore?

Thomas Friedman is a on a jazzercise kick because his publicist told him he looked "unusually jowly." After Thomas Friedman took that phone call, he was so depressed. Within an hour, he was telling me and anyone who called that his publicist had called him to congratulate him on being "unusally cheeky." I can't wait to hear how he turns the publicist's "fat ass" comment around.

So Thomas Friedman has been jazzercising but he does not like that word. Thomas Friedman says he is calorie burning at an accelrated rate. To Cher blasting from the stereo with Thomas Friedman singing along. I said, "Thomas Friedman, that is jazzercising." Thomas Friedman did not stop from throwing his hands in the air as he did a dance step and told me I did not know what I was talking about.

Actually, Thomas Friedman said, "What do you know from McFries and Carl Junior burgers?"

Then it was time for his can-can kicks as he told me, "This is a high energy, calorie burning, manly excercise."

But what I do know?

I know that I am sneaking water when Thomas Friedman is not paying attention. I am exceeding the daily water allotment he has set for me. It must be the water that makes talk so quickly and mix metaphors, but on paper, Thomas Friedman pronounced it perfection.

Or as he put it, "My Eliza Dolittle just went shopping on Rodeo Drive and none of the snooty salesgirl scoffed!"

I also made a point to work myself into the column because I think I am pretty important to his life even if he usually does not mention it. So when I had him talking about how Tony Blair's wife didn't agree with him about the war, I added "I know that feeling!"

I just wanted a little attention for myself, Bettina Friedman. I am the woman behind the man. Literally when we are playing Iraqi invasion or when he is playing himself and I am playing Bill Keller.

I got a shock yesterday when a call came in yesterday. The woman asked if I was the maid and I said, "Uh no, I am the wife." She immediately apologized and gave me her name: Gail Collins.
Gail Collins. All that time I though Thomas Friedman was speaking of a Gale named Collins. A natural disaster. When I told Thomas Friedman that later, he replied, "Well have you seen her?"

Thomas Friedman thought that was very funny but I did not get it. He stopped laughing when I told him Gail Collins had called the column "perfection" and Thomas Friedman's best Friedman-ism.

Thomas Friedman made a point to tell me that he had spoken to five cab drivers of various nationalities, several people at a deli and half the U.N. and they all felt the column missed something and wasn't quite up to standard. I got so mad that he made that Eliza Dolittle comment.

I do not know why he calls me do-little. I do plenty. He is the one who is sitting on his special pillow watching TV.

If it weren't for the three bottles of vitamins he is giving me each day, I do not know how I would find the time to was the hard wood floors in his office and in our bedroom, scrub the kitchen floors and bathroom tile, squeeze his prune juice every hour on the hour when he screams, "Prune me! Daddy's feeling blocked!" or do any of the other things I do.

But the last two days, I am just raring to go. I think the vitamin C may finally be kicking in. I just wish my mouth wasn't so dry all the time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I helped out the great Tommy Tum-Tum

Everything is so funny today. Everything!

Thomas Friedman was complaining that the omlette I made for him this morning wasn't a perfect shape but had some "run offs as though you patterened it after the Mighty Mississippi."
I just laughed, "Tommy Tum-Tum, then don't eat it." And while his mouth gaped open, I grabbed it and threw it and the paper plate at the wall.

Oh, that was so funny, it still makes me laugh.

Did I mention that my husband Thomas Friedman the Tommy Tum-Tum got me new vitamins this week? I love them. I do not know if they are Bs or Cs or Ds or maybe they are minerals like Zinc? Who cares because they make me feel so good.

And Thomas Friedman looks especially handsome with the little bursts of light flashing from his head. Strange that I never noticed them before. Thomas Friedman calls them tracers. Tracers is such a funny word, no?

I had to stop and then come back because I was laughing so hard that I think I scared the other person in the room. Thomas Friedman was in here earlier and said there was no one else in the room but that man has been in the corner all evening.

I said, "Tommy Tum-Tum, maybe you do not see him because he is not you?"

His brow got all wrinkled and I could see him attempting to figure out what I meant by that but my husband Thomas Friedman is not the only one who can do riddles.

Nor is he the only one who can write. And I proved that yesterday.

I was cleaning and taking my new vitamins and just realized how great life was. I was laughing as I scrubbed the kitchen floor. Carrying the pail with me, I went into Thomas Friedman's office and said, "Thomas Friedman, life is so wonderful."

Thomas Friedman got very mad and screamed at me, "Bettina, you are sloshing bleach all over my good tie and shirt!"

"Oh, Tommy Tom-Tom, that tie has crusted food on it and has for weeks. Here, let me clean it."

I grabbed him by the tie and then started kissing him.

"Bettina!" he hollered, "I have a column to complete!"

I reassured Tommy Tom-Tom that I could get a rise from the little Friedman and that he did not need to have one of his anxiety attacks as I pulled his shirt loose from his pants. Lifting his shirt I began kissing that fleshy, soft, gray tummy and saying, "I love Tommy Tum-Tum."

Oh was Thomas Friedman mad. He knocked me to the floor and stormed out.

I found that so funny. I even called out, "Don't forget me to tell me when you get back that the taxi driver said Thomas Friedman is a great man and a smart man and all the rest!"

Oh, life is so funny.

After I stood up, I saw that Thomas Friedman was really working on his column and not attempting to track down online nude photos of Estelle Getty as he so often does when he is at the computer.

So I read the three lines he wrote and thought, if Thomas Friedman can do it, so can Bettina!

And guess what? I did!

I wrote the whole column and then some. I just tossed out the sort of things Thomas Friedman says and used words like "Lord knows" and others.

Those columns really do write themselves.

Thomas Friedman got back several hours later and he was sulking as he sipped on his smoothee.
He did not know that I had already sent the column over.

"Bettina," Thomas Friedman began, "I am a great man and I am an important man. I am a fair man and I am a generous man. I am --"

The phone rang and I laughed, "Thank God!"

Oh it still cracks me up to picture the angry look Thomas Friedman shot me as he marched over to the phone.

"Friedman, Thomas Friedman," Thomas Friedman said.

It was Bill Keller and he was going crazy over Thomas Friedman's latest column. Thomas Friedman was confused and put Bill Keller on speaker phone.

"It is the finest piece of writing that the paper has ever run!" Bill Keller squealed like a little girl seeing a kitten.

"I see," Thomas Friedman said slowly while I sat down on his desk and pretended to type so he would get the idea that I had written it and sent it in.

"You really think it is good?" Thomas Friedman asked as he nodded to me.

"Oh, it is vintage Friedman! It is so you and so true and I have dotted your hearts with little hearts!"

"Put it back in your BVDS, Keller," Thomas Friedman barked, "we ain't going out like that."

Thomas Friedman chortled so hard. He loves it when he thinks he talks "street." Watching Thomas Friedman throw back his head and chortle, I was reminded of those plastic birds that bend and go up, bend and go up, over a drink. I laughed and laughed.

When I stopped laughing, I heard Keller saying something about how he liked Thomas Friedman's joke but that they did have to cut it.

"I'm sure it was true about you, but we don't want to upset our great leader, do we?"

"No," Thomas Friedman said firmly. "I am glad you enjoyed my joke."

With that Thomas Friedman hung up the phone and asked me if I realized what this meant?
I laughed and laughed thinking it meant that all you needed was a bottle of pills and a few catch phrases to be an op-ed writer for the paper.

Thomas Friedman said no, that wasn't it. It means he can get started on another book right now if I can write his column for him. He went on and on with all these ideas until I told him, "Thomas Friedman, you are bringing me down."

Thomas Friedman did not like that. He did not like that at all. He grabbed his smoothie and stormed out of the room.

I hear him snoring from the bedroom. I guess there is no Iraqi Invasion games tonight.

I will share the little poem that I closed Thomas Friedman's column with because it still tickles me and I wish the paper had printed it today.

Here it is. I called it "Ode to My Penis and the Bully Boy."

Red faced with anger over lack of girth
I still like the little guy
He brings me much mirth.

I do not know why they cut it. If I do another column, I will try to work it back it in. Now I must go look for more vitamins. I cannot believe how quickly I go through those bottles.