Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Charmless Philip's Charmed Life

He drove the Obamas and they survived
He spent his life lolling and always thrived
He ogled Ms. Kirkwood and friskily wrote
Those letters the Internet's not going to float
His queen was then pregnant: he wanted some fun
But he remained upright when all's said and done
I guess he was boring, I guess she was bored
By this observation we're none of us floored
The charmless old tuff as he's frequently called
Survived all the women he probably balled
Crashed into two cars but killed no one at all
Flipped over his vehicle, then had the gall
Uninjured, to wander and then to feel shocked
But that's what Brit royalty does--so they're mocked.*

Sing to the tune of "The Campbells are Coming"

P.S. In the immortal words of the long-lived prince: "When a man opens a car door for his wife, it's either a new car or a new wife."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Critical Mom's Meals Today

I just could not face healthy food today. At 6:15 a.m, the empty calories in my supermarket bread tasted just fine with coffee strong enough to walk on. At lunchtime, I thought I'd be more interested in the ham and lettuce sandwiches in the cafeteria. That brown bread, those tomato sandwiches. How about a tomato sandwich, Harriet the Spy's favorite lunch? I remember gobbling those when I was twelve--with Hellmann's mayonnaise, salt, dill, on Pepperidge Farm white bread. I had the usual theory: if I eat like Harriet and spy like Harriet, I'll turn into a writer. Just like Harriet. But no cafeteria sandwiches for me--all I wanted was that plastic cup of vanilla-and-chocolate pudding, which I downed with a café-au-lait. I was better at dinnertime: made a meatloaf crammed with red onions, garlic, red bell peppers, spinach, carrots, Parmesan, and spaghetti sauce. Gulped that down with lemon polenta and South African red wine. Does that make up for my junk food day? And who am I asking? God, or a dietician? Certainly not the internet. If you ask me, that was one good meal. Even my kids thought so.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Donald Trump and Boundaries

"How do Mexicans feel about Trump’s wall? – They’ll get over it."
Anonymous joke

How I hope they won't have to scale it--but if they do, that they'll make it. Maybe seventy years from now Lifetime Network will make films about brave Mexican families running zig-zag, eluding the  border guards trying to pepper them with bullets, or digging deep tunnels from Tijuana to San Diego. Yes, the way Germans make movies about East Berliners digging tunnels to freedom in the West before the wall fell. Vox has covered a history of walls and their failures to contain--in fact, their provocation to inspire us to climb them--but why would Trump choose this, or any, moment to listen? The man who wants the wall has no boundaries himself. He'll say he could shoot someone on fifth avenue and still get voted into office. He'll say the many dreadful things he has said, and will continue, to say. And if the wall isn't built? But somehow, with him, that means it's built to cacaphony, and therefore never built, and therefore built forever. With apologies to King Arthur, Trump's photographic negative. Nancy Pelosi will keep saying "No," and Trump will keep saying, "Over my dead body." Which would be a considerable climb. I wake at midnight wondering less what historians will say about these Trumpesque times, and more whether historians will exist after Trump finally dies. Even he must die, eventually. Right? But it's so hard to believe that he will ever deign to do so.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Critical Mom's Heritage

I took a "My Heritage" test and received enough information to construct a narrative. The info: I'm 41.6% English, 33.4% Scandinavian, 23.4% Irish, Scottish and Welsh, and 1.6% "West-Asian," which, on the map the company sent, corresponds to Turkey, Iran, a bit of Iraq, a dash of Afghanistan and a soupçon of Pakisatan.  
My narrative: Back in the eighth century, the English peasants were planting rye or crunching it up to make bread. Or tending their peas, beans, and onions. Or whiling away the evening in their huts by the fire dreaming of Morris dancing, which they'd invent a few centuries later, but meanwhile, they were just hooting odd noises that occasionally rhymed and became ballads. 
While the peasants were engaged in these activities, the tall, redbearded and blondbearded Vikings were speeding across the waves toward English shores. When the Vikings arrived, longing for art, music, culture, they killed the men and raped the women. Some of those women ran in the direction of Scotland, where they hid out in the highlands, some headed for Wales, where they tried to summon spirits from the vasty deep, and some encountered leprechauns on the road to Ireland. 
These women and their descendants lived in these places fairly happily until the late sixteenth century, when Queen Elizabeth I approved the charter of the Turkey company (1581) because she wanted to maintain trade and political alliances with the Ottoman empire. At least, Wikipedia says she did. If Wikipedia's right, then I suppose the descendant of one of those women who'd run from the Vikings enjoyed a romantic encounter with one of those Turkish or Iranian or Afghan or Iranian or Iraqi or Pakistani traders. That brings us almost to the seventeenth century, the one my father's side of the family claims altered family circumstances: Dad says "we" were Scottish peasants who became mercenary soldiers for William of Orange, and were granted land in an area that would later become Pennsylvania. Those lands not being arable, "we" walked to the Carolinas, where we became Southern Gothic. The other side of the family says "we" didn't like life in Taunton, England, which "we" abandoned in the eighteenth century for the chilly confines of Utica, New York. I know the rest of the story: my father's shrink fell in love with him. Having acquired a young, female patient whose prettiness she envied, the shrink tried to escape her inappropriate attraction by throwing him together with my mother. The two of them married in order to please their god, oh, excuse me, their shrink. I was born.