Hello, vast readership. I hope you have all enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving repast. If your household is like mine, you're now sitting (or lying) around in a food coma, your brain and body barely functional. I haven't got the wherewithal to write a proper blog post this evening, so I have asked the few remaining folks at The Shambles -- husband Sean, best pal Norman, and dear out-of-town friend Jennifer -- to help me out by answering a random question apiece.
ME: Norman, you were a little late arriving this afternoon and I think it had something to do with a toilet plunger. Care to elaborate?
NORMAN: No, but I don't want to be accused of being evasive or a bad sport. I woke up this a.m. with a pretty steep agenda by my standards (meaning it involved more than one objective). I hadn't slept well, woke up early (again, by my standards) and couldn't get back to sleep. After some time lying in bed staring at the ceiling and listening to an Xmas music mix I made for the hostess of my remarks here, I decided to commit to the day and begin working through my morning tasks. At some point -- details are foggy -- I realized my toilet wouldn't , er, flush properly. I couldn't believe it. While I do worry inordinately about related household disasters (e.g., the toilet backing up, flooding my apartment and destroying my all my worldly invaluables), and even if manifestations of my bad luck provide further confirmation of my world view, I thought my w.c. issue represented a new low or at least semi-fresh hell. I'm a bit of a germophobe, too, so this particular problem implicated a tangle of personal issues.
So, what to do? I had recently thrown out my plunger; the idea of keeping a previously used plunger, however clean, just began to disgust me (see above). I'm not at all handy, but believe it or not, I had one of those "snake" devices and reluctantly began to work on the toilet. (Some years ago, when a plumber said he was going to "snake" my toilet, I had no idea what he meant. I told him to do whatever he had to do but that I would have to leave the room. At the time I had no interest in plumbing demystification.) Anyway, the snake is this long wiry thing with a crank on the end, by means of which one works the snake through the sinuous, if I may use a highly technical term here, toilet pipe. I felt like I was cranking the engine of some early-model motor vehicle, and after quite some time, began to notice dramatic progress: the snake was sliding down, down, down in impressive fashion. Or so I thought. In fact, the grip of this crank was sliding down the other end of the snake, which itself coiled and thrashed, probably splashing water on my bath towel, without really going anywhere. Fed up, and used to being outsmarted by inanimate objects, I tossed the snake aside (after wrapping it securely in a plastic garbage bag), got dressed, grabbed my keys and took off for the grocery store. I honestly didn't know whether any of them would be open and, having just been to the store the previous night, Thanksgiving eve, that is (a living nightmare unto itself), hated the prospect of returning. But I assumed the hardware stores were a non-starter on Thanksgiving proper. (I am probably as out of place in a hardware store as anywhere else and for roughly four years didn't realize there is a Home Depot within about a mile of my humble domicile. And last time I was there, I got a suspicious look from one of the store's "associates" while I was attempting to tie a noose in the aisle that featured rope and twine and the like.) I actually tried the CVS first, thinking I would avoid some of the last-minute shoppers for turkey and whatnot, but its plunger selection was abysmal. The ones they did have were tiny, like baby plungers or something, and I couldn't wrap my mind (and sensibilities) around the notion of plungers procreating. I then traversed the parking lot to the Ralph's, located the section of an aisle dedicated to household items and gazed down at a marginally better choice -- a conventional-sized plunger! Still, it wasn't one of those -- I hesitate to to say cool -- effective plungers, the business end of which has an accordion-like shape. I'm sure I could have procured one of these miracles of modern design and innovation at one of the presumably closed hardware stores. I had to settle for a simple, normal-sized plunger, which I promptly purchased -- I think the manager felt sorry for me standing there with a plunger and hangdog expression (or perhaps felt I would unnerve the other holiday shoppers) and opened up a new register for me -- and took home. Without much ado, and probably no more than two or three "plunges," my toilet was operational again. Although, with the right equipment, it didn't take long to fix this problem, I did have a moment to wonder, as I was jamming that highly coveted plunger into the base of my toilet and again probably splashing my bath towel, what the fuck, on this of all days, do I have to be thankful for?
The upshot: That was (one of) the reason(s) I was late.
ME: Wow. That was more explanation than I'd expected! Thank you, Norman, for all those details. Onto my next guest.
Jennifer, you recently became the proud owner of a U.S. passport. What are your immediate and future plans for this piece of identification?
JENNIFER: Yes, I am a new proud owner of a U.S. passport. Let me just start by saying that I have found a new freedom knowing that I can now venture to any part of the world as an officially identified U.S. citizen. Although I find it interesting that I had to pay $113.00 for some one to offically tell me that I am an official citizen. Being a citizen of the United States is a title that I feel many of us take lightly. As a fourth grade teacher I often express to my students that they will inherit the important job of being good citizens of this amazing country. Obtaining my new passport truely re-enforced the pride I have in my country. The government did a great job choosing several iconic American symbols that represent this amazing country. The fine makers of my beautiful new passport also quoted famous Americans such as MLK, Eisnhower, JFK etc on each of the pages that await a stamp from my future destinations.
It will be my pleasure to present this passport to the person assisting me as I embark on my New Years Eve cruise to Mexico! Our country has decided that going to Mexico and Canada by air, car or BOAT now requires a passport. Of course this does not go into full effect until Jan. 8th. However, this rule was a great reason to request a passport. Now that I have one I won't have to pass up travel excusions like a trip to GERMANY!!!!
Yes! This trip to Germany could be my first trip off North America. The possibility of traveling abroad is overwhelmingly exciting. I have traveled to 46 of our 50 United States. I've ventured to Canada and Mexico, but to actually leave North America would be SUPER!!
Presently, I have a beautiful new passport that holds several pages awaiting stamps from all over the world! Who knows what adventures will come with each stamp of a page.
ME: What fun! I'm excited for you. And that reminds me, I need to renew my own passport before next year's possible trip to Croatia. Speaking of Croatia reminds me that it's now time to ask my sweetheart Sean a question.
Sean, today is the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. What do you think really transpired on that fateful day in Dallas 44 years ago?
SEAN: I think that the president was shot and killed.
I suspect that Lee Harvey Oswald pulled the trigger, but I've never been given any credible or satisfactory reason why he may have done it. Based on what I've heard about it from a variety of sources, the whole thing smells fishy from every angle. The conspiracy theories seem to push an agenda every bit as much as the Warren Report. I'm not convinced we'll ever know the whole story, but it seems that petty jurisdictional territorialism and beaureaucracy may be mostly to blame for the suspicion, the incomplete information, and the mystery as any possible complex conspiratorial plot. I suspect that the reason the papers are sealed have as much to do with keeping secret some information irrelevant to the the assassination, or spurious investigative methods as with any possible shocking revelations. I believe that there were (and are) people in our government that were self-centered or agency-centered, and wanted mostly to cover their own asses.
In other words, it seems possible that there was some kind of conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy, but much more likely that were several conspiracies after the fact to take credit, avoid blame, cast political opponents in an unfavorable light, enjoy fifteen minutes of fame, or to grasp for something meaningful in a horrible, shocking moment of national tragedy.
And, on that sober note, happy Thanksgiving.