Tea Party vs Occupy

My dad is worth several billion  dollars. He keeps his money to himself. On Sunday nights after sex, he gives my mom a belly pack stuffed with large bills. That constitutes her working budget for the week.

My mom hates this arrangement. She hates that my dad is so rich. He didn’t earn it. The money lay in a bank waiting for him to be born.

My dad’s mom, on the other hand, is glad that he has the money, even though he won’t let her get near it. He gives her a small pack of it every week. Not after sex, of course. As far as she’s concerned, he desrves it and has every right to keep it to himself as much as he wants.

What my dad’s mom doesn’t like is how my mom runs the family and spends her weekly share of the money. My dad’s mom believes that my mom wastes her money. On organic food. On concerts. On donations to charity. My dad’s mom would reduce this spending by more than one half. She would cut off the allowances to my sister and myself. She believes that the two of us should get jobs at McDonald’s after school and work our way up to the top of leading financial institutions.

My sister ignores all of this. She hangs out with a group of recent college graduates that does a lot of drugs and sex and, according to her, creative art projects.

I spend most of my time online in an anonymous hackers group. Our goal is to crash the Internet in its totality and end Western Civilization as we know it.

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I meet my congressman

I noticed in the news the other day that congress is in session for only 109 days out of 365. I realized that this meant my congressman must be very accessible, being in his office working for us voters all that extra time.

I headed right down to see him, but his receptionist told me that he was out sick.

He was sick the next day, too. Google provided his home address and I sent a get-well card. No response. My favorite online poker site mentioned that Representative Smith was in Vegas for the week. Unwise, to be out working for a better nation while ill like that, especially in a venue where crowds of people are present, many from the congressman’s state, all anxious to press their private political concerns upon him.

Finally, on Monday, he was well enough to return to his office. As I entered, another of his constituents was just leaving. Representative Smith is truly a man of all the people, not just the rich and influential, for I recognized this woman on her way out, rather washed out in daylight, as one of my favorite strippers at a local club.

“Did he listen to your concerns?” I asked her in passing.

She laughed.

“He’s always a sweetheart,” she said.

A man of the people.

Unfortunately, the receptionist told me that he wasn’t able to meet with me, as he was on an important call. I told her I’d come back when he was free. She smiled at the word “free.” Patriotic.

There were still weeks left before Representative Smith was to return to Washington. I saw in the paper that he was scheduled to visit a ladies’ tea in Upper Brockton. I drove over to that tree-shaded community of mansions. Valets were handling the automobiles of arriving matrons. They wouldn’t touch mine, calling it a “rattletrap.” I pointed out that I was a voter. They pointed out that they were working strictly for tips, that I was in their way, and that there wasn’t one actual American citizen among them. I thought about warning the representative that a bunch of rude illegals were working the tea, or about calling the INS, but I don’t have a cell phone and none of the valets would lend me theirs. They might be working for tips, but I saw more than one of these handsome young men drive off with the old bag still in the car, so I have a hunch they were parking more than the automobiles. Depriving women of the chance to exchange views with their man in Congress. A shame.

Tired of my fruitless attempts to meet Representative Smith, I parked down the street from his mansion the next evening and waited and waited until his limo pulled out through the iron gates in the wall surrounding his grounds, and followed him down to the Lampligher on Broadway. His limo parked in an alley behind the restaurant and two big lugs, probably secret service agents, waited beside it while he entered the restaurant through the kitchen with a briefcase in his hand. Another limo arrived and an Asian gentleman got out, again with two muscular dudes, and went in through the kitchen with a small duffle in his hand, while his men waited outside. A third limo arrived and a Mexican gentleman emerged from it, along with two mean-looking greasers. He went in too, with a stuffed backpack in his hand. A fourth and final limo arrived, this one with a Pakastani or Afgan fellow in it, with his bodyguards. He carried in a picnic basket. After a while, all four men came out again. The Asian, Mexican, and Afgani were empty-handed, though their pockets were bulging with envelopes. Representative Smith was wearing the backpack on, the duffle in one hand, picnic basket in the other, a big smile on his face, and with a white nose. His men ran to help him. All four limos took off. I followed the congressman.

I know that he sits on several important sub-committees pertaining to international commerce and drug enforcement. Even on his evenings off, he is on the job, working with the representatives of our allies in other countries for justice and the American way. What a guy.

I followed the limo back to his mansion. When it stopped to wait for the gates to open, I pulled in behind, jumped out, and ran up and tapped on his tinted window.

“Congressman! Open up!”

The window slid down.

“I’ve been trying to meet you all week,” I said. “I’m a big fan.”

“Good evening,” he said. Both of his men were out of the car and behind me by now. “How can I help you?”

“I just wanted to tell you how much I admire you and all the work that you do,” I said.

“I appreciate that,” he said. “It’s citizens like you that make my work worthwhile. I’ll remember you in my prayers.”

The window slid up.

“Me, too,” I said. “I haven’t been saying my prayers lately, but I’ll start tonight.”

“Good idea,” said one of the men behind me.

I become a presidential caucus delegate

I was contacted recently and recruited to the state presidential caucus. Amazing! My vote, on one single night, will help determine who runs for President of the United States next year. What a responsibility!

Of course I knew when I got the call that I was being mistaken for another, real political guy with my same name, who lives about $10 million down the block from me. No car up on blocks in his front yard! (If he has a front yard, down at the end of that winding drive behind those stone walls.)

The candidate campaigns began contacting me immediately and I soon had met a number of famous people:

Somebody Cain (I forget his first name. Starts with an H) – As soon as this guy grabbed my hand and pulled me towards him, staring into my eyes, I knew that he could make me buy a car or vacuum cleaner, or anything else he wanted. I pray that he never knocks on my door right after I’ve got paid on a Friday. How come there are more Cains than Ables around?

Rush Limbaugh – I’m pretty sure he’s not running for anything. That’s a good thing because he don’t look healthy to me. Fat, red faced, sweaty, big cigar in his mouth, cute little thing hanging on his arm. If he hasn’t had a heart attack already, he’s due, and if he has, he’s due for another.

Somebody Bachmann – This woman is wound tighter than a $2 watch. I was afraid for a second that she wasn’t going to let go of my hand until I promised her something I’d regret.

Sarah Palin – Yes, I met her. Shook her hand. She looked into my eyes and I saw something hard come over her face. I felt like one of those wolves running on the tundra with her helicopter gaining on me from behind.

Rick Perry – He was made up a little, not like a woman but like a TV news reporter. He was lively. Jovial. His handler told me that he got like that before an execution. So it happened a lot.

Mitt Romney – I was a little drunk when I met Mr. Romney. He opened his mouth and I said, “Don’t even start, Mr. Romney. I can tell you’re going to lie like a rug before you even start.” Of course I regretted that later.

I never met Newt, who they tell me is still running. Newt. Newt. What the hell were his parents thinking? Unless they’re named Salamander and Gecko, that is.

Eventually, the caucus folks discovered their mistake, but not before I had attended many a cocktail party and rubbed elbows, or shoulders, or whatever you rub, with the rich and famous. I guess it was my 15 minutes of fame.

My time as a monk

When I was in my 20s, I renounced the materialism of the Western world. I got a job on a freighter after obtaining my seaman’s ticket, and worked on the high seas until taking my accumulated pay and debarking for good at the port of Chittagong. I could have lived like a king for a year in Bangladesh but instead I secreted my money on my person and made my way north on foot, depending upon the kindness of strangers for my biryani and llish.

In time, I passed through the hills of Meghalaya (the Scotland of India) and crossed into Assam. I endured rain, sat and watched the one-horned Indian rhinoceros, and eventually progressed into Bhutan. Here, in the deep valleys, as I approached the mighty Himalayas, I began sitting with the Vajrayana monks whom I encountered. Finally, in the company of these monks, I began the long, long tramp to Cona in Tibet, at 14,000 feet, and eventually, as the seasons passed,  to Gonggar. I was tempted to apply for membership in the Sakyapa school of Tibetan Buddhism at the Gonggar Dzong or the Gonggar Choede Monastery, but I craved to leave the valleys and trek up into the wild and rocky Himalaya hinterlands, which I did, feet wrapped in burlap. I could feel myself leaving the world behind and approaching true understanding on the edge of the great voids of thin air that fill the spaces between the mountain peaks up there.

I arrived finally in a small and nameless village on the stoney gray flank of a gigantic mountain. A woman, Chomo-Lung-Ma (Godess Mother of the Universe), took me in. There were no monks in the village but she explained by gesture that this was a good thing – that I could best advance my own personal monkhood in solitary fashion.

It developed that she had six children. She kept me busy with chores, which seemed good for a newbie monk. I never figured out where the village’s food came from. The goats would wander off over the flinty slopes; they must have found something to eat somewhere back there because they came back sated. Chomo-Lung-Ma gave me sustenance sufficient to keep me alive and able to work, no more.

When Spring arrived, she gathered the family’s meager belongings and the kids and prodded me out onto the track through the village. It seemed as if we walked for months after that. Walked and walked. In fact, we did walk for months. We walked until we arrived on the ocean shore at the harbor of Beihai in Guangxi province. Chomo-Lung-Ma took my money stash, which had remained intact since my final day on the freighter, and she and I and her children crossed the Pacific and were smuggled ashore south of L.A. We caught a succession of buses north to a furnished bungalow in Canoga Park. Five bedrooms, three baths, red-tile roof, full landscaping. We took up residence as a happy, middle-class married couple. She worked with a gang smuggling Far Eastern drugs; I was in charge of the kids, the pets we acquired, and the Escalade. Two housemaids came in on Tuesdays and Fridays.

I would have done some yard work, but a Mexican crew showed up every Thursday to take care of that.

I join the 1%

I was moaning and groaning about money and how I didn’t have any and how unfair it was.

“Go see that young fellow David Dollhouse. He’s rich as Croesus. Maybe he’ll share,” my mom said.

I had first met David Dollhouse (of the Rhode Island Dollhouses) out in the woods. Money’s no good in the woods. Me and David were equals in the woods and we got along fine, because I was always careful to recognize his special interest. David believed (and still believes)  that every insect used to be a human being.

He’s a member of the 1%, or even the 0.1% or 0.01%. He lives in a room in a Motel 6 on the outskirts – the outer outskirts – of Curtoe, Oklahoma. He spends most of his time out in the fields behind his room.

“See that ant?” he would say to me. “That ant was a Jew. See him scurry around like that? It’s pathetic.”

He told me I could share his room. He gave me a credit card and told me to use it for anything I needed in Curtoe. The first time I went into town, I had to walk. I checked the credit limit on the card at the local bank. There was no limit. I drove back to the motel in a spanking new used Honda Civic that I bought outright from a lot in town. It had a good AM/FM radio and new retreads.

“I want to introduce you to a snake,” David said to me. “She used to be my piano teacher – the one who charged a lot and put her hand in my fly to bribe me into practicing Hanon, which I hated. So now she’s a snake.”

“Snakes aren’t bugs,” I said.

David snorted.

“Snakes are bugs,” he said. “You have a lot to learn, Grasshopper. There are people who are bugs.”

“Confusing,” I said.

“This snake tried to crawl into my fly. That’s how I know it’s Mrs. O’Dowd. Never trust an Irish piano teacher.”

The next time I was in town, I bought a Boeing 777. They told me that it was impossible to ride it back to the motel. It turns out, no matter how rich you are, there are some things you can’t buy.

“You can’t buy happiness,” said Mrs. Smith, who ran the motel, but she seemed pretty happy. Once David had moved in, she closed all the other rooms.  She doubled the cleaning staff, though, mostly family members, all for David’s room. He tipped with his credit card. The maids put bugs in his bed.

I helped David organized a bug parade on Veteran’s Day. Then I went into town to test Mrs. Smith’s theory. First, I needed to be unhappy, so I went into the hardware store and hit my thumb with a hammer. It hurt like the dickins. I was unhappy. I complained to Mr. Jones, the owner. He told me that I had only myself to blame.

“Oh, yeah?” I said, and I bought the store, lock, stock, and barrel on the spot. Mr. Jones and his clerks and bookkeeper all left and the next thing I knew, customers were pestering me to find items and check them out at the register, wanting to return purchases, wanting gift wrap, and me with a sore thumb. A sore right thumb. I didn’t have the sense to hit my left one instead. So Mrs. Smith proved right. Money could not buy happiness.

My idyll with the rich came to an abrupt end when David caught me with a bucket of KFC. He claimed that chickens were bugs and I was in fact a cannibal, and I was out on my ear. My new Civic pooped out before I reached the state line and when I tried to get it fixed, my credit card had expired.

My big break as a reporter

Folks ask me how I became successful in the field of newspaper reporting. Hard work, I answer. However, I did get one big break.

I was just starting out as a cub reporter on the Parings Journal in northern Mississippi. I was walking down Main Street one evening at dusk and I came to John Brown lounging outside Parings Drug Store, smoking a cigarette. John wasn’t no older than me, but he was already sheriff, because his daddy was mayor. I asked him if he had anything newsworthy to report.

“Just that I’m busting up a robbery,” he said, gesturing toward the darkened drug store.

“Who’s in there?”

“Lanny Smith. Stealing drugs.”

I pulled out my notepad.

“How come you’re out here then?” I said.

“I called WREB over in Leesville. They’re dispatching a crew with a camera. I’m going to be on the news tonight.”

“Who’s around back?”

“Billy, of course. We’ve got Lanny surrounded.”

Billy Brown was John’s little brother. He was a bigger hothead than John, but not half as smart.

“You think Billy will wait for the news crew?” I said. “What’s your plan when they get here?”

“Once they get all set up, I’m going to go in there and shoot Lanny.”

“His daddy won’t like that,” I said.

John gave that some thought. Lanny’s daddy was not a man to trifle with.

“I’ll shoot him in the foot,” John said. “I’ve got to shoot him somewhere.”

“Can I go in first and interview him?” I said.

“No, I don’t want you rocking the boat. Go around back and tell Billy to be patient. I don’t want the little piss ant messing things up.”

“I’ll go tell Billy, if I can get my interview.”

John nodded and I hurried around to the back of the store. Billy was just reaching for the handle of the screen door. He had his gun in his hand. He and John both carried those old long-barreled Colt Peacemakers.

“Hold on, Billy” I said. “John told me I could go in and get an interview. He says you should be patient.”

“He don’t always get his own way. Let him be patient if he wants.”

“I know, Billy, but you want to be wrote up in the newspaper, don’t you? I can’t do it if you shoot Lanny before I talk to him. Hold off and I’ll put your picture on the front page.”

Billy pulled open the screen door and held it for me. I opened the back door and stepped in.

“Lanny,” I said. “I’ve come to interview you for the Parings Journal.”

“Come on in, then,” he said from the gloom.

Billy and I went in and found Lanny sitting on a stool behind the register at the pharmacy counter. He was drinking a coke.

“What have you stole so far?” Billy said.

“Let me ask the questions, if you please,” I said.

“You little piss ant,” Billy said.

“That’s what your brother just called you,” I said.

I had to grab Billy then to keep him from stepping out front and shooting his brother on the spot.

“Calm down,” I told him. “You’re an officer of the law, Billy. Now Lanny, what have you stole?”

Lanny gestured back at the shelves full of pill bottles and lotion bottles and bottles of powders that lined the walls.

“Nobody told me they’d be so many,” he said. “How am I supposed to know what to steal?”

“What have you got there?” I said. He had a big brown bottle of capsules in front of him.

“They’re bright yellow,” Lanny said. “What do you think?”

“I think they’ll speed you up,” I said.

“Well, hell, I’ll take some of that,” Billy said.

He stuck his gun in his belt, opened the jar, and pulled out a handful of capsules, which he stuffed into his mouth and chewed and swallowed.

“If these work,” he said, “I’m going out there and punch Mr. Big Britches right in his damned eye.”

We did not have long to wait before Billy’s pupils shrank down to the point of invisability. His face hardened up in a peculiar way and he began to speak slowly and thoughtfully in a language that Lanny and I could not understand. He walked to the front door of the store, gun in hand. I heard the news van pull up outside.

“Go on home now,” I told Lanny. “I’ll leave your name out of my story. Mostly it won’t be about you, anyway.”

My Trip Around the World

I won a trip around the world. No strings attached. Free air travel (coach), free accommodations (1.5 stars or less), daily stipend for food and excursions.

I won the trip at my wife’s company Christmas party. I was to leave on January 1st. One-year time limit. I could go anywhere I wanted, but I was not to return to the U.S. until the following December, on the day of the next Christmas party; otherwise, all costs would revert to me; this was because the plane ticket deal would terminate with any trip back to the U.S.

The idea behind the contest? To sllow an average American to discover the planet and all the diversity it offers. I was to send back an email from time to time, describing my adventures.

I had some doubts. I’d be away from my new wife for a year. I thought that perhaps she could join me, here and there, now and then, but she said, “Honey, I’ll be so busy at work, it just won’t be possible.”

She works for her company’s boss, Frank, and he picked my name out of a big hat. I guess he warned my wife in advance that she wouldn’t be free to come to me anytime in the coming year, due to business concerns. My wife is his right-hand man.

She wouldn’t hear of me turning down the trip. She told me it was the chance of a lifetime to, how did she put it, learn something worth knowing rather than sitting on my fat ass watching TV for the rest of my stupid, boring life. It made sense.

I visited more than 100 countries. I lost count after a while. One thing that I noticed was that very few of them have TV in English. Also, very few of them know or care about football. Most of them do not refrigerate their beer. Finally, most of the hotels I was able to stay in seemed to have a lot of lonely women around.

The cost of calling my wife was not covered by my prize, but I did it anyway sometimes. She always seemed bubbly and happy to hear from me and when I called and caught her in bed at night, she was so happy to hear my voice that she would pant and moan in delight.

The year of adventure has sort of dragged. I got beat up a couple of times. I caught a disease or two, or three, but I don’t know their names in English. Mostly, though, it was all OK, knowing that when I get back I will be more well-rounded and deserving of my wife’s love and respect.

I did get a phone call from Frank the other day, the head of the company. He told me that the company was going to repeat the contest for the coming year, and that since I would be back for the Christmas party, he would be putting my name in the hat again.