Monday, November 07, 2005

From buffets to smokes

Thomas Friedman is obsessed with Chinese food.

Readers of his column, the brave few who stick with him, have probably deduced that from his constant mythical trips to China.

It's all he writes about now. I wonder if readers ask why that is? I know I did.

He's always running to what I call "Dollar China" -- a new buffett that hasn't yet kicked him out. It probably won't. It's a real dive. Run down. Desperate for customers and money. It's a place where no one ever disagrees with a customer so it's heaven for Thomas Friedman who loves to hold court and never be questioned.

"Yes, Mr. Friedman" is the oft repeated refrain while Thomas Friedman occupies the back booth smiling smugly.

He always has to sit with his back facing the wall. He says that's because "we live in terrorist times." I wonder if, pre-9/11, he invented a tale of being the victim of a potential mob hit?

The truth is, he sits with his back against the wall because he must be seen. He must face the room. I told him, "Thomas Friedman, I think the woman is supposed to face the room" and he told me I would crack from "that kind of pressure."

His concern for me is like his concern for his waistline -- something he occassionally gives lip service to but doesn't much sweat.

But anything that gets him out of his shorty robe is an improvement.

I know they're trying hard for business at "Dollar China" but I wonder what happens when Thomas Friedman leaves?

I'm thinking they talk about the "fat assed blow hard."

That was what one old lady called Thomas Friedman today as she struck him repeatedly with her handbag.

"'We deserve to lose.' We deserve to! America hater! Move to Russia!" the elderly woman screamed as she swung the handbag over and over.

I marveled at her upper body strength as well as her sheer deterimination.

Later, after Thomas Friedman stopped sobbings, he asked me why I did nothing to come to his aid?

"Betinna, it's almost as though you enjoyed it!" he whimpered.

"There is a lot of truth to that," I said for fun knowing I could get away with it because Thomas Friedman loves to be quoted.

That was the end of that because already Thomas Friedman was recasting the elderly woman who had accosted him into a young teenager from the Bronx in a "Hello Kitty t-shirt" who was taken with his "manly insight."

Within ten minutes, it was as though Thomas Friedman had forgotten I was present when he was attacked. By that point, "a dead ringer for Drew Barrymore" had stopped him in the street to say she regretted her mind wasn't as insightful as his because she found him very sexual attractive.

As I often do when Thomas Friedman's windbag still has a plentiful supply of air, I imagined a better life, one without him, one where people talked about real events and real people. Not made up visits to places and made up people who never existed. A place where no one passed off something as tired as "The World Is Flat" as pithy or worldly. Such a place has to exist, right?

I wonder about that. I also wonder what is up with his nonstop eating at Chinese buffets lately?
I wondered about that all last week. Then Saturday morning, the uberpacker John Tierney came over and he and Thomas Friedman went to Thomas Friedman's office and closed the door.

"We're working!" Thomas Friedman shouted as he closed the door.

I didn't think much of it. John Tierney's been coming over a lot lately. I figured they were working on something for the Sunday magazine when I bothered to think about it at all. Honestly, I was just glad to have Thomas Friedman out of my hair. The visits usually give me three to four hours of solo time.

And Thomas Friedman is usually so wiped out from the visits that he's too tired to do much, most importantly, too tired to pontificate. He'll usually join me in the living room after John Tierney leaves and he'll park it in a chair and just sit there in silence, staring off into space.

That worried me a little. As I told Mrs. K on the phone, "I think Thomas Friedman may be starting to think."

With all the damage he's done to our nation's public discourse writing on automatic pilot, the thought of what he might do with a little thinking actually frightened me.

I needn't have worried.

I was going to the bathroom and passed the office. Through the door, I could hear music pumped up loud and Thomas Friedman and John Tierney singing:

What if you were starving to death
And the only food was me

Thomas Friedman loves his classic rock. He's got a poster of Janis Joplin showing a boob and one of her clothed standing with Grace Slick (also clothed). So I wasn't surprised that he'd hauled out his vinyl copy of Paul Kantner and Grace Slick's Sunfighter. Again.

Myself, I prefer something with more of a beat. I was thinking about a Kat's Korner review of Stevie Wonder's new album. The review was "A Time To Dance" but before I could remember more than the title, I stopped to sniff the air.

Something really stunk. At first I thought maybe someone had dropped off another one of Todd S. Purdum's smelly jock straps but then I remembered that it was hell to get him to part with the last one, the one he had delivered on poker night. Todd S. Purdum feels he's on a winning streak and, like a superstitious baseball player, he insists upon not washing the jock strap he's currently wearing until his lucky streak ends. Now I haven't seen anything that outstanding about his writing but if it makes him feel he can write, and as long as I'm not downwind of him, what does it matter to me?

Unless it's brought in my house. I tossed the last one out in the dumpster in the alley. It cleared out the homeless that had been living there and the stray cats as well. When the sanitation workers would finally come near the dumpster to empty it, they were wearing Hazmat suits.

The thought of another one of Todd S. Purdum's smelly jocks stinking up my home didn't please me.

So I opened the door and barged in.

It took a moment for them to notice me but it took me a moment to see them due to the fact that the room was in darkness except for an old strobe light Thomas Friedman had pulled out of the closet.

They were singing:

I say you better eat what you will.
Shove it in your mouth any way that you can.

And they were smoking.

I was just about to lecture Thomas Friedman and John Tierney about the dangers of smoking when I realized they were smoking grass.

Suddenly, it all made sense.

The staring off into space for hours after John Tierney left.

The locking themselves in the office and blasting old rock albums on the turntable.

Thomas Friedman's constant chowing down at buffets.

Most of all that hideous book The World Is Flat. At last, an explanation for the half-baked "theories" in that book.

Thomas Friedman was staring at me.

"We cool, man?" John Tierney asked.