Hi. I need to ask your advice. I woke up two hours early with a blistering hangover (ahoy there, old buddy!) and am trying to decide whether to go back to sleep right away, wash the dishes, or read the book I bought yesterday. It’s by Albert Brooks. The title is 2030, and it’s a science-fictitious comedy of sorts about the dear old future. I’ve only read about the first fifteen pages; so far, so good (or shall I say, so bleak).
I’d like to be an optimist, but I’ve got a mountain of dirty laundry that needs to be removed. Maybe if I blow my dog whistle Dick Cheney can come and remove it for me, like the Pavlovian salivating dogs trained to kill for bank robbers in the forgettable classic movie The Doberman Gang (Richard Pryor as a Doberman pinscher: “You think I’m smiling, motherf*@!%r?”). Apart from the movie’s having sucked quite noisily, literally slurping the feces from the rectum of a dead dictator, it was also patently unfair in its characterization of Dobermans as preternaturally vicious demons who’d sooner take a bite out of your right butt-cheek than exchange business cards.
Years later, when I finally met my first Doberman, I found that she was a gentle, fun-loving dog who couldn’t sit still for two seconds. I told her human companion as gingerly as possible that excessive exposure to television, especially if augmented by access to a remote control device, can result in attention hyperactivity disorder in most juvenile canines. He promptly slugged me in the face, tightened my necktie until my face turned violet, and stole my car. We’re old friends, so I forgave him instantly.
It reminds me of how I was trained by my culture to hate Russians, since I grew up in them there United States during the Cold War (and don’t get me started on the Cold Peace; I’d be wearing long underwear right now if it didn’t interfere so much with my virtual sex life). Then Gorbachev came along and saved the day, before he sold out and started doing Burger King commercials with the motto: “I love human beings, not cows.” Not that I have any right to talk, having enabled the slaughter of countless anonymous animals in the perennial pursuit of the shameless appeasement of appetite, a losing game if ever there was one, after an abortive attempt at vegetarianism in childhood that only lasted for three years and didn’t really count anyway, since I still ate eggs (hello, battery cage!) and fish, even though the only reason I became a vegetarian in the first place was I watched a bluefish suffocate at the bottom of a neighbor’s rowboat and was too shy to club him to death and put him out of his misery (I mean the bluefish–not my neighbor), or mystery.
When I finally met an actual real live Russian person in college, which was a few years before Gorby did his perestroika and glasnost shtick before yielding the Soviet throne to his tubby drunken majesty, Boris Belchin’ Yeltsin, I found her charming beyond description, which is probably why she gave me an F in her Russian literature class. I guess it was a mistake to hit on her in the first hour. I had no idea her husband was going to barge into the room–in a tank, with Boris Yeltsin standing on it, holding a half-emptied bottle of vodka and wearing flippers, a Hawaiian shirt, and polka-dotted boxer shorts.
Where do all these stupid stereotypes come from, anyway? I remember hearing lots of racist jokes about black people and Jewish people when I was a kid (and let’s not forget those idiotic Polish jokes), when I didn’t even know any members of those so-called minority groups. I was just another ignorant white suburban schmuck, and I didn’t even know what a schmuck was, or what it was used for.
I read a review of the latest James Bond movie a while ago that decried its homophobia in the characterization of the villain, portrayed by Javier Bardem. As the movie had been overhyped, I’d had no plans to see it, but was pleasantly surprised when I finally did. I could see the reviewer’s point though; then it occurred to me that–if I’m not mistaken–the director, Sam Mendes, is gay (meaning, in this case, “a homosexual,” and not “in a happy frame of mind”), which suggests that he would not want the villain to be entirely unsympathetic if he’s understood also to be gay, which he clearly is. Then again, there’s also the possibility that even if or though Mendes identifies himself as gay, he could still be homophobic. (And before you laugh, scoff, say “p’shaw!”, or react in some similarly incredulous fashion, I know that such a thing is possible, as I had a former co-worker who fit that description; his job was in jeopardy, not because he was gay, but because he was too funny and repeatedly violated the company’s anti-laughter policy.)
Well, now that I’ve shared these desultory revelations with you, I guess it’s safe to either do the dishes or go back to bed. I’m feeling kinda sleepy, so reading is out of the question. Maybe I can pull the bed up next to the sink and wash the dishes while lying in bed. That would be nice, as long as I don’t drown.
I hope it’s warmer where you are than it is here. The climate in Seoul seems to be one enormous, elaborate, extreme torture device. Sweltering, sweaty summers exacerbated by monsoons followed by boiling humidity, then a month of absolute perfection succeeded by bone-swaddling clamminess and ferociously freezing air.
Now that I’ve thawed slightly, I’ll try not to stay away from the typewriter anymore for too long.
God bless you, your children, and the horses you rode in on.