Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thomas Friedman's one moment of public truth

President's Day. Thomas Friedman appeared to think it was his day. After ignoring his 'friends' (and events in the world) for some time, he's facing some difficult truths. Don't worry, he'll shortly spin them in his favor. But Monday was a moment of him realizing he doesn't know as much as he thinks he does.

These are very rare moments, so I do try to enjoy them when they pop up.

He was hoping to have his "friends" Davey Brooks, Nicky K, Todd S. Purdum and Dexter Filkins over for an indoor picnic today. He invited them last week.

Davey Brooks first question was whether or not Gail Collins would be here? Thomas Friedman's been pissed at her due to the fact that she's placed him on a Frequent Suspension list. Thomas Friedman swore no way in hell would "the Furby" be invited.

Davey needed more assurances.

"She's insane, Friedman, insane!" he screamed over speaker phone. "She's been brushing up against me and telling me she loves animals, loves them, really, really loves them. 'I'm into animals,' she says. Then she starts talking about how she loved this horse called Black Beauty when she was entering puberty! I'd thought of asking her out but now . . . Where would I take her? The kennals?"

I was so delighted to know that the plan had worked out. But Davy could not be convinced that Gail Collins would not be attending, no matter how many reassurances Thomas Friedman gave him.

Finally, Thomas Friedman rang off, hollering, "It's your own damn fault for stuffing that sock!"

He then turned to me and instructed me to call Nicky K.

What am I, his social secretary? But Thomas Friedman insisted. He said that since I was so close to Mrs. K, it made more sense for me to call.

Wanting to shut the husband up, I dialed. But made the mistake of doing the call on speaker phone.

"Betinna!" Mrs. K exclaimed. "It's so good to hear from you. How have you been?"

Seeing Thomas Friedman pacing back and forth, with his shorty robe riding up in the back, I knew this had to be a quick call if I was going to spare myself the torture of his fat ass on parade. Best to get the point and hope he'd plop that hefty rear back down on the couch in time to catch his "story" (NBC's Passions.)

"Thomas Friedman wants to throw an indoor picnic Monday, for Presi -- er, for Thomas Friedman Day," I said.

"Oh, that man's ego!" Mrs. K laughed. "It's as large as his ass. Let me check with Nicky."

At the talk of his ass, Thomas Friedman froze and began attempting to crane his neck to get a look at his butt. I can't believe it was that difficult for him to see, it is huge, after all.

"Betinna?" Mrs. K asked.

"Yeah, I'm still here."

"Uh, well, Nicky's not feeling well . . . I know it's only Wednesday, but he's sure that he'll be sick on Monday, so we're going to have to say no. I'm sorry."

"I am sick!" I heard Nicky K yell in the background. "Sick of his fat ass, his brow beating! Who does he think he is? And do you know it's been months since he even called? Friends don't do that! I've taken a lot of his crap over the years, insults, cheap jokes, choking, but I will not be overlooked as if I am merely another one of The New York Times' many grievous errors! Tell him he can lick my . . . He can lick my . . . He knows what he can lick!"

"Gotta' go, Betinna," Mrs. K said hanging up.

"Lick his what?" Thomas Friedman roared. "His balls? He'd have to have a set for me to lick 'em!

Thomas Friedman never comes off more camp/fem than when he's trying to butch it up.

It's like watching Grizzly Adams' hairer sister flounce around in a shorty robe.

It got worse when he invited Dexter Filkins. A shouting match ensued over the phone.

"You are not in Iraq! Well, if you are, if, if you are, you can write your crap just as easy from here as you do from there. It's not like you ever leave the Green Zone! What's a matter, Dexy, you in love with Burns!"

It wasn't pretty. The whole time Thomas Friedman was sneering "protege," I kept thinking he was realizing how badly he'd burned his bridges with Nicky K. The two used to be so close. Nicky K looked up to him. It was like watching the little kid with Rosalind Russell in Mame. Those days are gone.

He never did reach Toddy Purdum. Maybe Todd was finally washing out that jock now that he's moved over to Vanity Fair? I can't imagine they'd enjoy the fumes ("groove on" Thomas Friedman always says) the way the paper of record did. (Unless they wanted something to counter the sickeningly sweet smell from those perfume strips hidden in every issue.)

So it went for Thomas Friedman. Each invitation, turned down.

He spent all Wednesday night screaming, "What do you do when bad things happen to good people!"

By Thursday, I was irritated at having to wait two hours to get into the bathroom (he was taking his bubble bath -- "Stars must be pampered, Betinna!") so when he finally emerged, I said, "What good people? You're good people?"

He fussed and fretted over that before finding another way to slam Arabs in a column.

It was the usual McCheese from the mind that badly demonstrates over 12 million served. But there was one item of truth in it:

Who knows whether any of this is true.

Not a question, a statement. And one I think can apply to each and every one of his columns. I like to think of that statement as "The Confession of Saint Thomas."

So Presidents' Day came and went like any other except for the cake I had to bake and frost. "Thomas Friedman's Day" it read. He pulled himself away from Days of Our Lives and Passions long enough to say, "I want an end piece. I really big end piece. I like the really big ends."

I was too tired to voice the obvious comeback.