Thursday, July 13, 2006

The War Paint Council

My life is hell. Sheer hell.

Gail Collins demanded to see Thomas Friedman's airline tickets and travel receipts.

One too many "creative" columns about Peru and even Gail gets suspicious.

Of course Thomas Friedman blames me. He insists I tipped off Gail.

Did she need that much tipping?

When you're supposed to be in Peru and you keep dashing to the office thinking you might have left a "Saved By the Bell" videotape there, maybe even Gail can clue in on the fact that you're not, in fact, in Peru?

So he got "benched" Wednesday. The nation's gain was my loss.

I was cutting class in an attempt to clean up. Since the week before, no matter what I've tried, I've been unable to get make up stains off the couch, off the carpet, off the walls, even off the glasses and cups. Don't the "ladies" grasp that part of dress up should be to look like a lady?

Thomas Friedman shrieked at the Fourth when a big glop of ketchup slid from his burger to his white dress.

I will never forget Simon Rosenberg (who actually does make a very convincing Cheryl Ladd) consoling him and saying that he bet Marilyn Monroe had many "women's moments" that marred her white outfits.

That's when I packed it in and headed to bed. It was eleven-thirty in the morning. I left ASAP for college the next morning. When I got home, I surveyed the damage and it was a nightmare that Comet, Windex and assorted other cleansers have been no use on.

So I'd decided this Wednesday, I'd cut class and just bleach everything.

Little did I realize that Gail had benched Thomas Friedman and that the "Lady" War Hawk Auxilary was having their "War Paint Council."

There was Armstrong Williams, still small-talking up No Child Left Behind even though they stopped cutting him a check on that long ago, dressed as Leona Helmsley. There was Simon Rosenberg trying on the Kate Jackson look. (That may have been his own natural look. But since he'd gone from Farrah to Cheryl, I assumed he was working his way through "Charlie's Angels.")

And there was Thomas Friedman, wrapped in our pink shower curtain. He really pigged out on the Fourth and none of his clothes fit him. He was insisting to everyone that it was like Marilyn's dress in "Gentleman Prefer Blondes" but I saw Robert Novack snickering.

I explained that I was there to clean and he tore me apart for running to Gail (whom I haven't spoken to in ages) and announced that they had an already scheduled meeting so my cleaning was on hold but since he'd talked Novak into updating his look ("finally"), if I wanted to stay, I could play Beulah to Novak's Mae West. I passed.

From the kitchen I could hear him bad mouthing me and saying Gail was buying all the sentences like "What is so striking about the rain forest, when viewed up close, is what an incredibly violent place it is -- with trees, plants and vines all struggling with each other for sunlight, and animals, insects and birds doing the same for food" -- before I snitched. Uh, Thomas Friedman, I believe The Discovery Channel is on Gail's approved viewing list.

I could hear Robert Novak pouting that he'd dropped Pickford and no one would help him out by being his maid. He attempted to rope in Armstrong Williams. Armstrong said he wasn't playing a Black maid and that Novak needed to ask someone Black. Novak reminded Armstrong that he was Black which seemed to come as a shock to Armstrong.

"I don't belive it!" he howled. "Get me a mirror!"

Immediately, I heard the sound of thousands of compacts opening.

I heard two squirts and then smelled Chanel No. 5 -- Thomas Friedman was calling the meeting to the order.

First they took care of old business which mainly revolved around themselves. (Robert Novak was convinced that he'd finally cleared his name -- of course, he was convinced he looked like Mae West in that outfit as well.) Thomas Friedman being Thomas Friedman, he spoke the longest about himself, cursing me because he just knew I was secretly destroying his wig and pleading for everyone to be on the lookout for a really good Monroe wig.

Then the issue moved to how to silence the left. Simon, ever the flatterer, even in that hideous orange poncho, asked Thomas Friedman to explain again how to deal with pesky reporters?

"Talk over them!" Thomas Friedman howled. "Just talk over them!"

There was loud agreement with that which ended with Novak crying out, "'CrossFire' lives on!"

"That's how you take care of the Left," Thomas Friedman said firmly.

"What about others?" wondered Simon nervously. "Like that . . . is the word 'Afro-American' now? Bob Herbert. He's gotten rather . . . uppity in print lately."

"I agree," insisted Armstrong Williams. "Ever since they got 'The Jeffersons' on TV, those people have never been satisfied."

"Well, they really don't get on TV," Robert Novak said. "I'll tell you who we have to worry about -- Nicky K."

Thomas Friedman shrieked with laughter.

"Nicky K! He can't decide if he's more concerned about Darfur or North Korea from one moment to the next! He's like a chicken with his head cut off!"

Thomas Friedman was having a coughing fit, from laughing too hard.

Simon agreed that the left lacked focus but pointed out Nicky K's recent "strong" column which seemed to have "emboldened certain elements."

"'Don't Turn Us Into Poodles'?" Thomas Friedman asked his voice dripping with contempt.

He imitated a dog whimpering.

"Please," Thomas Friedman sighed, "he couldn't even go with something as strong as 'We Aren't Poodles,' instead it's a plea: 'Don't Turn Us Into Poodles' and did you see the way the left lapped up that weak-ass sop online?"

They all chuckled at that and agreed that the 'shout outs' for that silly nonsense was a sign of how truly weak the left was.

"Now is our time," Thomas Friedman declared. "We need to talk 'democracy' up. If we can continue to do that on the Middle East, the Marines will be landing on the shores of Venezuela in no time!"

"But can we really do that?" wondered Armstrong. "I don't know that most people buy into that 'democracy' scam anymore."

I sensed that Armstrong would shortly be off the "Ladies Who Lunch" list -- even if he didn't.

Thomas Friedman said of course they could and whenever someone was unsure how to portray another nation, just think about what the US does and then accuse the other country of that.

With that, the meeting was called to an end. They had matinee tickets to "Mamma Mia" and Novak offered that Armstrong should go on down to the lobby and hail a taxi since he looked the most "matronly" dressed as Leona. Armstrong whined that at least he had dressed up in what, I'm sure, was a dig at the poncho and styleless dark wig Simon was wearing. But he left.

As soon as he did, the War Paint Council got down to the serious business: dishing.

"He's gone softer than Dexy!" exclaimed Thomas Friedman.

"Maybe we should wave some cash at him? That tends to stiffen his spine," suggested Simon.

"Wave cash at him? Does he look like a stripper in that Helmsley get up? I would have been more impressed if he'd come us Sherman Helmsley but then, he doesn't seem to get that he is Black," sneered Novak.

"All I know," said Thomas Friedman, "is that a 12-year-old girl couldn't pull off that flowery scent he's wearing. There are standards."

Everyone agreed and agreed it was time to kick Armstrong out of the club.

Thomas Friedman called, "Betinna, my wrap!"

And then they were off.

Reading over a draft of his column for tomorrow, I see that he's doing just as he said he would, repeating the lies of 'democracy.' He may convince people. I don't know how many. Probably more than the crowd at "Mamma Mia" who must have laughed at him because he came home in a bad mood. Of course, by Thursday, he was rewriting it, saying he was the hit of the audience, that more people were watching him than the show, that everyone wanted his autograph.

I gave him a look.

"It really happened, Betinna," he said rather crossly.

"And where was that? Peru?" I asked ducking from the thrown coffee cup I, rightly, expected.