Four Items In Search Of An Entire Column
Quibbles ‘n’ Bits for those with short attention spans (or actual taste)
By Ed Goldman
I‘d call today’s column a potpourri but that word conjures up the overpowering herbal and floral scents of those infernal little sachets elderly people put in their bureau drawers, closets, bathrooms, and possibly tape to their underarms before company arrives.
For my generation, Patchouli Oil accomplished the same task, masking all natural aromas while evoking blurry memories of Jethro Tull concerts in humid weather.
1. HOW TO FIX THE SACRAMENTO KINGS AND CONGRESS
I think there’s a way to improve the world’s worst teams, including the United States Congress. Put all of them on commission.
Let’s take the Sacramento Kings basketball team as Exhibit A. Just before Thanksgiving, its owner, Vivek Ranadive, fired Luke Walton, another of its revolving-door of head coaches, ostensibly blaming him for one of the worst continuous win/loss records since those of George Custer, Robert E. Lee and Kaiser Wilhelm.
My contention is that had Walton and the players been working on straight commission instead of under multi-million-dollar contracts, they’d have been far more motivated to rack up victories.
Same goes for both Houses of Congress. Take away their salaries, perquisites and complimentary hair transplants and make them balance the U.S. budget—and in the bargain, end hunger, homelessness and internecine squabbling by a date certain (i.e., before they announce their next re-election campaign). Special warning to the NRA and Big Pharma: No tipping allowed.
If you get annoyed when someone asks you for your business card because you forget to keep one in your jacket or pocket—or jacket pocket, for that matter— here’s the best way to ensure you’ll never be asked for it again:
Keep a half-dozen of them in your pocket. Then, trust me, no one will ever ask you for one.
This bit of reverse psychology reflects my cosmic belief that the universe is neither randomly indifferent nor rosily benevolent: it’s completely ironic. It’s the same reason I know that: (a) if you want to get a flat tire, drive somewhere wearing a white suit; and (b) if you feel it hasn’t been windy enough, try to fire up your old-fashioned charcoal barbecue.
It would probably come as a surprise to people who know me not especially well, but I’m occasionally engulfed and devoured by anxiety. Those words aren’t strong enough to indicate how fretful I was about getting my driver’s license renewed a year and a week after it expired. I had made one very slothful attempt to renew it online but gave up when the DMV website rejected my email address, password and masculinity. (Maybe the latter was in my own mind. It’s been difficult living with a nickname that’s also the initials for Erectile Dysfunction.)
In any event, I was getting increasingly anxious about driving anywhere so I bit the bullet, went to the DMV site and called the help desk it advertises. To my astonishment, I was on hold for less than five minutes when a kind young woman named Anna picked up not only my call but my spirits. She was so nice I thought she’d even pick up my cleaning if I asked her to.
Anyway, within 15 minutes of Anna sticking with me through every screen and prompt, my license was renewed, all anxiety drained out of my system and I felt like jumping into my car and committing traffic gaffes just so I could be pulled over and show I was legal.
What’s happened to the fine American tradition of waving your thanks when people let you pull ahead of them into their traffic lane?
I always considered this gesture one of the sole surviving remnants of our nation’s civility. Alas, no more. When I wave my thanks these days, I think the recipient of my gratitude thinks I’m waving just one of my fingers in his or her general direction, and waves back in kind. I’m guessing the recipient might be having an allergic reaction to potpourri.