Saturday, February 10, 2018

State of the Uniom

I’m just cheering on the Patriots right now and they have trailed the Eagles all night. Not that I’m worried. They’ve come back from behind before. (Update: tied up with a TD in the fourth with less than 10 minutes to go with a go-ahead FG.) (Second update: my Pats lose 41–33. Doggone it.) I’ve fallen a little behind in my blog posts. Been busy on the ranch, clearing brush and such. People have been asking me if I watched the President’s first State of the Union address. I tell them no, I didn’t. (But that was a little white lie.) Truth is, I didn’t really want to. Lolo and I were relaxing in the living room that evening after dinner. (Laura’s spare ribs? Dynamite.) Anyhoo, we’re sitting on the couch and she’s checking her phone for text messages. Then she turns to me and scrunches up her face. “George?” “Mmh.” I’m trying to distract myself with an old Sunday edition of the Dallas Morning News. “TV’s off.” I look up. She’s right. It is off. “You’re right. It is off.” “You’re not going to watch?” she asks. “I’ll catch up later.” “You’re not at all curious to listen to you-know-who? Not even a little?” Laura’s learned not to mention he-whose-name-is-not-to-be-uttered, kinda Voldemort-style. I look over at her with a downward knowing look. Then I rustle my paper before burying my face in it. “Well, the suspense is killing me.” Laura grabs the remote and turns on the TV. I’m staring at an ad for Depends. The Orange Wonder is welcomed into the House of Representatives with a standing ovation as is the tradition. And as he steps up to the podium (I’m sneaking a peek while Laura’s not watching), he smirks. Then he starts reading the teleprompter. Slowly. Very slowly. (Slow reader. Not a surprise.) A few minutes pass. Laura is sitting next to me, arms folded, fuming. “I can’t take any more,” she says. She stands up, throws the remote on the couch next to me and walks off in huff. “I’ll be in the kitchen, polishing off the rest of the Häagen-Dazs,” I can hear her say on her way out of the room. I tune in and out while I’m still reading the paper. Between various parts of the speech, I hear the usual pauses in anticipation of the standard applause lines. (We all do it.) He talks about immigration and the economy, the usual things in a State of the Union. For the most part, he stays on message. Nothing too controversial. (What galls me is how the post-analysis on the cable news shows lets him get a mulligan for staying disciplined and delivering a conventional speech without ruffling too many feathers. In which case, you could put a Boy Scout recovering from pink eye up there with minimal reading skills and get the same results.) This is what I call a ‘low bar.’ We’ve become so inured by all the insanity that when he reads prepared text from a teleprompter and the world doesn’t suddenly implode in a ball of fire, that’s somehow presidential. And he gets brownie points for that. I hardly recognize this country anymore. (Meanwhile, you try to get through a locked door with a presidential swagger and you never hear the end of it.) Speaking of brownies, Laura comes back into the room with the biggest bowl of Fudge Ripple Brownie Bits I’ve ever witnessed. Lolo infrequently loads up on the ice cream, that is, unless she’s upset. And the more upset she is, the bigger the peak poking up from the bowl. In fact, I think a salad bowl would have been appropriate for the amount of Bits she lugged around. I’m not exactly sure if I saw it right in that dimly lit room, but I think she was eating from a serving spoon. (Or a spatula.) “I want to watch the Bachelor,” she says between bites. (Sounded like she said, “Mah wawawa buh batchwa.”) I oblige by switching to the DVR where a menu shows a list of every episode she’s programmed to record. As the music starts to swell during a recap of last week’s episode, Lolo turns to me and sees the smirk on my face. “I like this show. Don’t make fun of me.” She gobbles up another scoop. I turn back to my paper. All the while I’m thinking, ‘If Becca doesn’t get a rose this week, I will just die.’