Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The lies Thomas Friedman tells

The lies that you tell
Will leave you alone
They'll keep you down
They'll catch you,
And trip you up.

That's what I told my husband Thomas Friedman last Thursday.

It had been such a nice morning - so nice that it was easy to forget Thomas Friedman was even around.

He was gobbling down his morning vitamins and must have been feeling his Cheerios because, in the midst of a Bewitched marathon, he turns off the TV and asks me if I'd like to go to the beach?

Since I've yet to get the smell of Thomas Friedman out of our apartment, the question was rhetorical. While I was off in D.C. chanting Power to the People with Elaine and Gail Collins, Thomas Friedman had shut himself in our apartment and the "old people" smell seemed to be on every drape, every sheep, every towel.

We hurried down to West 43rd so Thomas Friedman could grab Billy Keller's car. (Thomas Friedman calls him Billy Kiss Ass.) There was some confusion because Billy was waiting in a pair of baggy shorts with zinc on his nose and the cutest sunglasses. They were tiny rectangles with black frames, the lenses were purple. I happened to compliment Billy on them which led Thomas Friedman to rip them off Billy, hand them to me and say, "They're yours now."

Watching Billy's chest heave and seeing him bite his lip, I was tempted to give them back but it's so rare that Thomas Friedman gifts me with anything.

"But Thomas Friedman," Billy whined, "I thought it was going to be just you and me!"

Thomas Friedman told him to "scat" before he made Billy turn over his lunch money. Stomping his foot, Billy said he didn't want to go anyway, with Judy Miller due to be released from jail later that day, he was "Quite busy, thank you very much."

Billy did an arm wave & snap combo as he said "thank you very much." Poor misguided white boy.

Thomas Friedman started the car and yelled that Billy should go easy on Judy because "I heard at the end she was putting out for a pack of smokes and nylons!"

Before Billy could think of a reply, and we waited with the car idling for about ten minutes, we were already tooling down the road.

We ended up in an "exotic land." That's what Thomas Friedman told me anyway. I'm not as dumb as I used to be and saw the now-entering-New-Jersey signs.

But it was Asbury Park and who can complain, right?

Thomas Friedman parked in handicapped and while I doubt few would dispute that as an apt description of his mental condition, Billy's car had no handicap sticker. Thomas Friedman waves his hands to indicate he could care less and we were walking around taking in the sights.

It was a little too crowded on the boardwalk and Thomas Friedman was attracting stares.

"I'm such a rock star," he whispered to me.

I'm not sure it was recognition that attracted the stares. Myself, I think it had more to do with his silk shorty robe which he wore with flip flops and a lime green speedo. The speedo Thomas Friedman insisted upon calling a "bananna hammock" though I myself felt the more accurate term would be "crayola caddy."

So we ended up at the Jersey shore. Thomas Friedman was running off down the beach as I spread the beach towel and pulled out the latest Terry McMillan. Stella married a gay guy -- who knew?

I started wondering what that said of Taye Diggs but soon fell into a restful nap.

I was awoken by shouting and looked up to see Thomas Friedman laughing with another man of his age group. Giggling, they pulled it out and began peeing on the sand castle I'm guessing they built.

"You pee like a pro!" laughed the other man.

"No, Cohen, you pee like a pro!" laughed Thomas back.

"I piss like a racehorse!" the older man exclaimed.

Dark clouds crossed the sun as Thomas suddenly glared at the man.

"What are you trying to say, Richard?"

Oh, Thomas Friedman was pissed off.

And now he was aiming his urine at the other man who lept backwards, lost his footing and fell to the ground.

Thomas Friedman, gloating, stood over him and continued urinating.

"Still think you're going to be 'the dean' when Broder retires?" Thomas Friedman mocked.

I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Mrs. K had long explained to me that the op-ed field was cut throat and "a real pissing match" but I had no idea she was speaking literally.

Running over, I grabbed Thomas Friedman's shoulder and scolded him for behaving this way.

But Thomas Friedman just giggled and ran over to where I'd set up to retrieve his coloring book and crayolas.

"Are you okay?" I asked the gray haired, older man.

"Who are you?"

"I'm Betinna Friedman. Thomas Friedman's wife."

"Tom got remarried?"

Suddenly, I didn't care too much about this urine soaked old codger. There was just something about the way his eyebrows shot up on that question that made me wonder if the real question didn't continue to include the phrase "to a black woman?"

As I walked up to Thomas Friedman he asked of the man and I replied that he was fine, just pissed off.

"No, pissed on," Thomas Friedman giggled maniacly.

I was a chapter into my book when Thomas Friedman shoved the coloring book at me. Thinking maybe he had managed to stay inside the lines, I took it only to find his latest op-ed "A Letter From the Shores of Iraq."

I was appalled. He was still pretending to be in Iraq.

"You can't lie like this," I told him but he just giggled, rolled over on his back, played with his belly and started singing, "There ain't no more room here, no more room here, no more room on this planet to go."

I have no idea what he was singing but he said the song held the answer to why we were in Iraq.
I told him a shorty robe did not make him the Dahli Lama. I then told him, quoting from a Carly Simon song "Love You By Heart," that:

The lies that you tell
Will leave you alone
They'll keep you down
They'll catch you
And trip you up.

Thomas Friedman told me I just didn't "get it." If I "got it" I would understand that no one was ever in real trouble for schilling for the administration. Sure Judy Miller got her bangs singed but only because she wanted to go "mano o mano with Fitzgerald." If she'd just done like Tim Russert and the others and testified to the grand jury to begin with, no one would say a word. Look at how pleasing the tales became about Matthew Cooper once he came around?

"We all protect each other," Thomas Friedman said ignoring my disbelief.

"Even old Cohen," Thomas Friedman said pointing to the man he'd urinated on who was now to be found splashing himself with ocean water, "he won't say one word. That's the game, Betinna, that's the way it works."

"But Thomas Friedman, the war is wrong. I was in D.C. and I can tell you that the country has turned against it."

"Doesn't matter," Thomas Friedman said digging lint out of his belly button before examining and then tasting it. "The administration wanted a war and people like me gave them the war, got the public to taste it and want it. That's the way it works."

"Well that is just disgusting."

"That's life," Thomas Friedman chuckled.

We really had nothing else to say to one another after that.

I was aware he made up the cabbies and airline passengers and all the rest. But that he would deliberatly lie about something other than imaginary people feeding him compliments honestly shocked me.

Even when we went back to the car and saw the police had put a boot on Billy's car, we had nothing to say to one another. One of us asked, "Cab?" and the other shrugged.

I had seen the face of true malice, a face with an unruly, ungroomed mustache over yellowed teeth, a face that would never be lined with concern over the mounting casualities and fatalities.
I had a feeling nothing would ever be the same.