Bits and pieces of news stick to me like lint to a sweater.
- A word in a headline briefly glimpsed.
- Something accidentally overheard in a conversation.
- A bumper sticker innocently read that turns out to be fraught with timely implications.
Or even a T-shirt--like the those the Dallas Mavericks fans were wearing back in early June...
Recently our family was on vacation. This is usually a time when even under non-Van Winkle conditions I fall out of touch with the news. Vacation is about living in the moment and getting out and doing new things instead of being tied to a computer or a TV or having a daily newspaper arrive on the doorstep.
Still, I had problems this vacation.It began with the now ubiquitous flat-screen TVs in the airports, all of them tuned to 24/7 cable news and with their volume turned up loud; if you plug your ears, there remains the visual assault of the crawl at the bottom.
Later, as I hung out with relatives the pollutant became words and phrases dropped into conversations.
"What this country is coming to."
"Trillions. It boggles the mind!"
And, yes, like a monk who has resolved to give up women but who still has to go into the city, I glimpsed the equivalent of some cleavage and legs courtesy of the newspapers lying around my sister-in-law's house.
Okay. So I sorta think I might know kinda what's going on back in Washington the past couple of weeks. On the other hand, I don't have any details or why or wherefore.
When I went to "sleep" back last September the economic and political talk was still of 1) the unemployment rate, 2) bailouts, and 3) health care. I honestly don't remember "trillions" of anything being in the conversation.
But times bring change. Maybe America is waking up with a big hangover. A collective national problem. For years we've been ignoring this problem, covering it over with a fig leaf if you will.
Now the leaf has dropped. Citizens are stirred up.So imagining that I've intuited what this news must be about I've dreamed up an op-ed piece.
My apologies if I've garbled reality. Perhaps I have misunderstood?
THE PROBLEM OF THE NATIONAL NUDITY
by Seymour Sitazon
America is a great country! One that is built on the idea of ongoing opportunity leading to prosperity for as many as possible. Yet we recognize, almost instinctively, that prosperity and the big wild good life ought not to derive from an excess of nudity.
In the past America has approached its national nudity with caution. When there was too much nudity the government acted and brought redress. The national nudity declined, although it never went away entirely.
It is notable that during the Reagan years the national nudity began to rise for the first time in a most alarming way. President Reagan implemented tax cuts, but he did not cut nudity. Nudity, in fact, became a way of playing with our toys today and deferring the costs of those toys until tomorrow.
Some of the toys the national nudity made possible were quite large: houses, SUVs, hot tubs, and everything at Sam's Club.
Surprisingly, it was President Bill Clinton who gave us a glimpse of what it might be like to see a decline in the national nudity. It may have been his policies or it may have been luck, but he proved to be no fan of nudity. Not even Monica Lewinsky could deter him from doing something about the national nudity. In fact, as the economy grew along with tax revenues during Clinton's watch there was the hope of decreasing the national nudity once and for all.
Then came two expensive wars abroad and a financial collapse.
The national nudity is now of extreme proportions. When you add it up, day by day, there must be trillions of instances! It seems we'll never be rid of it. Our children's children's children will inherit nudity that staggers the mind. How will they end up? Totally tragically naked?
Having laid out this problem I'd like to end by making an unexpected turn. What if the national nudity is not the rampant evil we suspect?
I mean look around you. Have you noticed thats even with such high levels of national nudity the people of this nudity-ridden nation still lead normal lives?
They drive down the road. They stand in the check-out line at the grocery store. They eat their hamburgers at McDonalds. We have national nudity, but we function. Indeed, as a people we seem to smile a lot.
The other day I was at a baseball game, eating a foot-long hotdog, and thinking about the rampant national nudity.
I looked up at the cheering fans--men, women, boys and girls. I looked at the handsome boys of summer. "So much national nudity!" I said to myself. Then "Crack!" the bat made contact with the ball and we all went "Aw!"
That's when I had an epiphany.
National nudity is as American as baseball. It's ingrained into the American skin like a wavy tattoo of Scooby Doo. We don't need fig leaf solutions to national nudity dreamed up by Congress or the president.
We need another hot dog with mustard and relish. And if I can't find my wallet to pay for it, well, blame it on the national nudity and let's get back to watching the game!