Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Nobody pushes Thomas Friedman around!"

It's been a crazy two weeks. I'm so far behind in this journal.

I'll try to catch up through last Friday.

Last Friday, my husband Thomas Friedman broke with the "New York Times." Thomas Friedman is calling it his "Jane Fonda moment."

Well, he's calling it his "moment like that actress." Ever since she "block-blocked" him, Thomas Friedman refers to her as "the actress."

"Block-blocked" meaning when she was holding on to the number one spot on the "New York Times" bestseller list with her book "My Life So Far" while his brand new book, "My Head Is Fat", was left to linger lower on the chart.

"Block-blocked" him from penning an instant chart topper. He's still very bitter about it. For Thomas Friedman, a grudge, like his overhanging gut, isn't something easily gotten rid of.

But he's convinced he's now like "that actress." That he's done an act of bravery.

"Watch and see, Betinna," he said to me, "I'll look as good as 'that actress' 20 years from now."


Because he doesn't look as good now.

But here's how it started. Thursday morning, I left for classes early. I did have a test but mainly didn't enjoy sitting with him at the table, trying to eat my breakfast, while he plopped one of his clown feet on the table and began cleaning underneath his toe nails with a fork.

Shortly after I left, he tried on his new foundation garmets and then a mumu dress (white) that he tries to swear is just like one Marilyn Monroe wore in a film but he can never remember the name of the film and stalls when you press him on it.

He'd used gym socks to round out his "bosom" He just focused on size and ended up with "lumpy" breasts. He applied his make up and then put on his wig.

Normally, he then plops himself in front of the TV with his "Saved By the Bell" DVDs. But he was so pleased with his lipstick, that he just had to show someone.

Not having any friends left, that left him with either waiting around until I came home at the end of the day or modeling the 'new look' for his co-workers.

Unwisely, he elected to go into the office.

As I've pointed out many times before, Marilyn Monroe didn't have a mustache. But that was far from the only problem my pudgy husband Thomas Friedman had when it came to dressing up like Marilyn Monroe.

He swears the cab driver (who, naturally, he also swears is from China and grew up reading all of his columns and, naturally, clipped some -- which he carries around in his wallet in case he ever meets Thomas Friedman) thought he was Marilyn Monroe. He finally had to tell the Chinese man that he wasn't Marilyn Monroe because he was so convincing.

At which point, he immediately pulled columns he'd clipped out of his wallet and began praising Thomas Friedman for his "insight," "wisdom" and "charisma."

Some people might believe that -- I mean some actually believe his columns so they'll swallow anything. I chose to let it pass because, when I later found him, he was enraged.

What enraged him?

Gail Collins and Bill Keller.

The way he tells it, David Brooks also thought Thomas Friedman was Marilyn Monroe. David Brooks was convinced and taken in and, appparently, taken with MM.

As David Brooks flirted suggestively with Thomas/Marilyn, Gail Collins had a snit fit.

Supposedly, Gail Collins marched over, grabbed a sock-full of boob and insisted, "They aren't even real. Mine are!" To which David Brooks asked, "Where are they?" causing him and Thomas Friedman to burst into giggle spasms.

Offended, Gail screamed for Bill Keller and insisted that she couldn't have anyone on the op-ed pages with bigger breasts than her's (does that mean John Tierney is fired?) so Bill Keller berated Thomas Friedman for "showing Gail up, showing Gail what a real woman really looks like."

Thomas Friedman said he stormed out of there.

Now I spoke with Bob Herbert because I called to compliment him on Monday's column and his first words were, "I did not laugh at him. I felt sorry for him, went into my office, closed the door and didn't come out until the whole thing was over."

The whole thing?

As Bob Herbert tells it, Gail Collins thought Thomas Friedman was in costume for a column he planned to write about how trans-national was similar to transvestites. She was actually excited and had unearther a mother lode of information about transvestites in the 19th century. She went to go get her research as David Brooks came over.

"My, you're a big girl," Brooks reportedly said to a sheepisly giggling Thomas Friedman.

As Gail returned, she found Thomas Friedman singing "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" to an increasingly uncomfortable David Brooks.

"What the hell is going on here?" she snarled.

"Don't be a jealous hefer," Thomas Friedman snapped.

Gail apparently tore off his wig and told him, "Keep your hands off the Brooks."

Insisting that he couldn't help it if men found him desirable and "Gimmie back my wig!" with a few swear words tossed in for good measure, Thomas Friedman grabbed Gail's hair (which really isn't a wig) and tugged hard.

A fight ensued and who knew Gail had a mean right hook? Mealy Mouthed Baby, if not Million Dollar.

Thomas Friedman was on the floor screeching in pain when Bill Keller wandered out of his office asking, "What happened? Did Arthur increase our co-pay again?"

Seeing Thomas Friedman and his get-up, Bill told him the outfit was disruptive to the office and that he couldn't wear it to work again.

"Nobody pushes Thomas Friedman around!" he shouted as he left amidst vows of revenge.

Which is how he came to write Friday's column, "Time for Plan B." See, the "New York Times" had planned to call for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq when "the time is right." Which Gail had estimated would be 2012. She's even decided on a title which seemed strangely familiar though she swore it had come to her during a book club meeting with her prayer group ("Should This Marriage Be Saved?"). Thomas Friedman decided to beat them by six years.

He couldn't stop laughing at the thought of Gail missing several weeks worth of "Sex in the City" in syndicated repeats as she desparately attempted to fill the hole left in her editorial schedule.

It was a bitter laughter as she'd never returned his wig.

Thomas Friedman always has to have the last word, but usually he's comfortable letting someone else have the last laugh -- he is, after all, Thomas Friedman. But the wig was important to him. Not having it drove home the concept of "loss" to him resulting in that op-ed.

But soon after it ran, he replaced the wig. Then the 'fun' really began but that's for another day.