please stop tickling me

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Otium cum Dignitatae

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Four years ago, on the eleventh of September, I was opening up the cafe I worked in. When I arrived, my cook had NPR cranked, as usual. She looked at me with this look of complete surprise.
"We're under attack," she said.
Quite so. I've never heard Bob Edwards sound so damn close to tears, as he was talking to some woman who was trapped in her apartment, seeing the toxic dust heading toward her.
I asked myself, Who the hell is gonna want breakfast? Why should we even bother opening the damn place? I put this debate to bed pretty quick, though: people would need places like mine, where they could be around other people, eat good food and talk. That place was like a big counselling session on most days anyway, and that day would be the biggest test of my skills.
When making out the specials board, I avoided the conventional "Good morning" at the top, opting instead for just "Morning". As the day went by, lots of people came and went. A few co-workers came by, and one was in tears. Busy as I was, I asked her what had happened.
She stopped for a minute and said, "What happened?" I had forgotten, since I was busy tending to the needs of real people right in front of me, and unlike almost everybody else that morning, hadn't been watching t.v.
People were engaged in spirited debate about what all this would mean. They also were already more than a bit suspicious. As I've said before, lies and the staged death of our fellow Americans have been used in the past to drag us into wars that our citizenry does not want (the sinking of the battleship Maine, Pearl Harbor depending on who you believe, The Gulf of Tonkin, no matter who you ask), and is then used as a reason to take away certain constitutionally given rights, which are then never given back, post war. I didn't have a restaurant full of idiots on that day, and they already knew what was coming.
I worked my usual shift, which took me through breakfast, lunch and into the afternoon, at which point I'd start prepping things for the dinner shift. When I was done, I wandered over to Beulahland for a beer, and encountered The Masshole.
"What's goin' on?" I asked.
"What's goin' on?" he responded. Behind him, there was a teevee that had the image I had been hearing about, but hadn't seen, for the last eight hours: plane stickin' out of a building. That don't look right. I went home and watched television until I glazed.
Like a lot of Americans, I developed nightmares, shortly after. Mine weren't about the feel-thy A-rabs coming to kill us all, though. I knew in my bones on that day that the unthinkable but hardly impossible had happened: an unpopular president largely considered to be elected only by judicial coup had done played the only card he had: the Wag The Dog scenario. And he hadn't even been subtle enough to do it right. On that day, Americans killed Americans, this I feel for certain, and if there were anything remotely resembling justice in this world, the people responsible would have been hung by the neck with piano wire, until death or decapitation.
But, this ain't the world it ever should have been: ask liberal, conservative, radical or reactionary, and they'll all tell you the same. Everyone agrees on this one thing. I knew that all we could do was take care of each other, as the world decided to go insane again. I took a group of people out to my beach house that weekend, with the agreed upon proviso that we wouldn't be watching any televison, nor buying any papers. On that occasion, I wrote:
"Everything gets worse beyond here. I'm imagining that massive (further) incursions into the civil rights of Americans is on the wise. The churches here will foment the necessary hate, as they always do, to go stomp The Enemy. As if religion wasn't at least half at fault here anyway. With the othere half being that Americans have been told for a century at least now that we are somehow destined to rule the world. Like Germany."
But the nightmare? It was pretty cinematic. It begins with a shot from inside of a baseball dugout, focusing on the asses of five boys sitting on the grass. This is me and my four (fictional) brothers. We are looking at something, which the camera at first can't see. Finally, the angle changes, rising up, and you see that we are watching our father beating the shit out of our baseball coach.
We jump forward. My brothers and I are adults, and live on a large ranch with our father, who has been shown throughout the dream already to be not just violent, but kills for sport. It's not necessarily just out of hatred, though that's in there too, but more like he doesn't know any other way.
We live on a massive piece of land, which is a good thing. There is the big house, and there are also guest houses. Mostly it's a vast expanse of acreage.
Wandering down to this creek which runs through some woods, I espy my father shooting a number of forms that are lying on the ground. As I approach, I notice that they are some of my brothers, and furthermore, they're laughing.
"I don't know why he does that whole fake 'shooting-you' thing everyday," one of them says, amused.
Another indicates a body nearby that really is dead. "Looks like he really did get Joe the Bodybuilder though," he says. (Wherever that came from.)
At a later point in the dream, I inform Dad that somone is on the property. Just that, and nothing more. He immediately retrieves a box of shells.
I yell at him, "Y' don't have to shoot 'em!"
He barks some shit back at me about how, basically, of course he does.
"No, you don't!" I'm yelling. I seize him by the shoulders and start shaking. "You don't always have to kill people!"
"But I waaa-ant to!" he whines, and soon is weeping, slumping from my grip.
A little more research determines that, on top of everything else, he is infecting everyone around him with anthrax. "That explains the little dents he puts in people's legs...", one of my brothers comments.
I, of course, am outraged, and realize my impotence in this situation, but I nonetheless stand at the bottom of the stairs taunting him. Finally I say, "Gee, I think I'd like to give someone anthrax!"
I hear him come charging out of his room, and I realize that I've angered someone who is, after all, a dangerous psychopath, and that I'd better run. As I try to exit the house, I hear him opening and slamming doors behind me. The last image in the dream is of the top of his bald head coming quickly at me. I jerk awake.
Kept on working at that restaurant, until March of the next year. One morning, I put up a specials board in which the two specials were named "The last refuge of a scoundrel", and "The continuation of business by other means". I promised free breakfast to anyone who gave me the two words that were being defined there. I understand people not necessarily knowing von Clausewitz, but what's up with not knowing the most important thing Ben Franklin said?

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8 Comments:

Blogger rich bachelor said...

"Patriotism" and "war" are the two words, of course.
I still don't know what Joe the Bodybuilder was supposed to represent.

10:12 PM  
Blogger cats dig me said...

I chose that morning to sleep in for the first time in a couple of years. We awoke to a phone call from my mother, the family grapevine personnified. First I shut down. Then I thought - Here come the flags, the tears and the hugs. After that comes the great divide from which we will never recover.

10:46 PM  
Blogger cats dig me said...

And hold on tight to your dreams,Rich

10:49 PM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Interestingly odd account, rich.

--ER

7:11 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

"On that day, Americans killed Americans, this I feel for certain,"

After 4 years, you still believe that Americans launched those attacks?

1:24 PM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

I remember Dennis Hastert on that day, leading whatever members of the House who were available in a very awkward version of "God Bless America". He also said, "We don't know who did it, but we have a pretty good idea."
Pity that the rest of the networks didn't take that approach: they showed the collapse of the towers with bin Laden's face superimposed over them.
As I say, the only arabs on those planes were Saudis, far as I know.
And every other arab would have known that to do that was to awaken the Sleeping Giant, and would only result in more years of bombing and starvation, inaugurated under Bush the Elder, and continued under Clinton. In this highly simplistic reasoning, I saw no reason why anyone but someone with ties to the defense contracting, natural resource extracting industries and the Saudi royal family would have bothered doing this.
Mind you, I've been wrong before...

1:29 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Osama has admitted that he is responsible for those attacks.

So yes, you've been wrong before and you are wrong again.

9:42 PM  
Blogger cats dig me said...

A minor point in all of this, I know, but why do we all insist on calling Bin Laden by his first name? I call my friends and family by their given names, but frankly I don't feel all that close to "Sammi".

7:35 PM  

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