Just Bill and the Mister

January 21, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 6:57 am
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The next seven postings present a travel piece I wrote in 1990.

After what’s happened in Haiti, it seems callous to talk about frivolous things, especially cruising in the Caribbean.  But other than condole with the Haitian man who works at the tennis courts where I play, and write a check to a relief agency, there’s not much I can do. 


 Cruise ships are very old hat now; they had long ceased being exotic even in 1990.  But I think something of the less acidic flavor of that era comes through, down to my choice of cruise reading.  Imagine a garden-variety Democrat—not a journalist or a politician– freely choosing to read anything whatever these days about Ronald Reagan.  I did so twenty years ago, and that seems amazing to me, now. 

 There are also politically incorrect aspects to the piece.  You’re not supposed to talk about people being beautiful anymore—that’s Lookism.  And it’s no longer acceptable to talk in terms of national or regional character.  That’s Profiling.  I suppose it’s even sexist to still use feminine pronouns when referring to ships.  Ah well.  Here’s what I wrote, warts and all.       

                     REVENGE OF THE TUITION BANKRUPTS #1

On this particular Monday morning, the mid-winter grind at last does you in.  You’ve arrived at that nadir of personal resources no amount of reason or common sense can salvage.  Like the midnight-blue morning and failed backyard outside, you look defeated in the kitchen window.

The dark a.m. commute works like road salt, corroding everything.  Waiting for a traffic light, the one timed so long you can actually feel your life slipping away, you turn to watch the woman waiting next to you.  Alone in her own grimy car, she’s deep in debate.  Her mouth is working, then stops as she listen to her phantom companion.  Now she makes another point, finger jabbing at the windshield.  You see this all the time, but this morning it gets to you. 

The day that follows fits perfectly.

On your drive home, at a different traffic light you happen to glance at a service station.  A person half your age is doing most of the stylistic things about his generation you most dislike.  Someone else is pumping his gas while he preens for traffic, overcoat and suit coat off, standing next to his Lexus in the wintry air so all can see his sharpie’s red suspenders.  Look at him yammering into his cell phone, poised with one arm over the open door.  Very take-charge, very New Order.

Home, you find your wife in the kitchen, still in her coat.  “We need a proctologist in our office,” she says as she opens a piece of mail.  “He’d feel right at home.” 

The mailing is from the gold-plated college our younger daughter attends.  “This is the bill for next term,” your wife tells you.  “Let’s do something to mark the occasion.  At this moment, all our money is gone and so are the children.  Here we are.”

Penniless and alone, you both face the frostbelt evening.  After dinner, you scan the travel section of Sunday’s paper.  The following morning, you are on the phone, looking for an exit point.


January 19, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — bknister @ 7:31 am

Where was I?

I know.  In Michigan.  Then I went to Florida with my wife Barbara and our dog Chelsea, where I got sick.  I’m still feeling poorly, but need to rouse myself.  If for no other reason, I need to get out of bed to thank Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson for clarifying the whole horrible business going on in Haiti.

Robertson first.  I think he comes first, because he’s president of Regent University.  It’s a comfort knowing someone like him is at the helm of a university, so Pat first.  Recently, he revealed that once during a Caribbean cruise, he had occasion to go ashore in Haiti.  It was a port of call, and while buying souvenirs he gathered some deep background on the country.  That background can now serve to train the garish light of truth on Haiti’s disaster.

It turns out, Pat explains, that way back, oh, heck, way way back there somewhere, Haitians made a pact with the devil.  They did it in order to get rid of their French oppressors.  This was bad.  They shouldn’t have done it, so now look what’s happened.  To the Haitian people, right here and now.  In the present.  And if you don’t think God is punishing Haitians for their ancestors having done business with the devil, just look over the mountain range, into the Dominican Republic.  It’s great over there, because they didn’t mess with the devil.

Rush Limbaugh’s take on the catastrophe is similar, but Rush thinks the devil is a communist.  Or a liberal, which is the same thing.  And since Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a former Catholic priest and Haiti’s first elected president, was left-leaning in his politics (he didn’t think Jesus would approve of hunger for the many and riches for the few), that explains for Rush how it is all these people are dead now.  He didn’t exactly say it, but I’m sure that’s what he thinks.  Because of that commie, Aristide.  Rush even thinks that other commie, Barack Obama will soon try to get Aristide back in power.  So he and any other commies still alive in Haiti can supervise more communist-inspired natural disasters in the country.

These insights hearken back to the ones provided by Jason Storms.  Or was it his father? If you remember, Jason and his dad, both men of the cloth, interpreted Hurricane Katrina in a way similar to the analyses of root causes provided by Pat and Rush a propos the earthquake in Haiti.  They saw what happened in New Orleans as a sobering expression of God’s Wrath being visited on their city in order to cleanse it.  How this works is that God visited His Wrath on the city just in time to save it from another installment of something called Decadence Days.  Jason (or his father) explained that it was way past time for all the sin and sinners in New Orleans to be rooted out and dealt with in the harshest terms.  All the girlie men parading around in skimpy briefs on Bourbon Street during Decadence Days–something had to give besides Spandex.

But wait.  I have it on pretty good authority that some of the bloated bodies still swilling around in the detritus when Jason made his pronouncements belonged to God-fearing, church-going Christians.  Maybe some even belonged to Republicans.  Not many, but some.   

Can this be?  God-fearing Christians drowning right alongside really awful, Spandex-wearing catamites who deserved what they got?   Was Jason telling us God can actually screw things up that badly?  No way.  We’re talking Supreme Being, we’re talking Primum Mobile. 

Sorry, Jason, sorry Rush and Pat.  You’ll all have to go back to the old cosmological drawing board on this one.  Assuming, of course, you aren’t busy getting settled in the circle assigned to you by old Mister Beelzebub.

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