Great, swell, and just oy

Dan Rodricks

October 29, 1990|By Dan Rodricks

George Bush vetoes the Civil Rights Act of 1990, and the Ku Klux Klan marches on the nation's capital to praise the president for his action. A Klan leader blasts members of Congress who voted to override. "They tried to override the veto, but thank God it was kept out of law," shouts the guy in the hood. Just what George Bush needs -- the affirmation of the KKK.

Great. Just great.

I am on a train, taking a long trip. I am reading "The Onion Field," a chilling story of murder and criminal justice, by Joseph Wambaugh. I have a worn paperback edition, purchased in a second-hand store. The reading is swift, fascinating. I am enthralled. I turn to the last page and . . . it's not there!!

Great. Just great.

I receive a cake in the mail. It's from mother. It's the Cake Mama Used To Make. It's delicious. I cut a slice and eat it, leaving the rest of the cake on the kitchen counter. I am tired. I am drowsy. I go to bed. I forget to cover the cake. Next morning, the cake is gone. Not a crumb left. I suspect the dog.

Swell.

My friend, Louise, a vegetarian, knows I like cookbooks. I collect them. So, Louise surprises me . . . with a gift copy of "What's Cooking In C-Mart," compiled by the staff at Harford County's famous discount warehouse store. What a treat! The cookbook includes recipes for "Hamburger Meat Soup," "Spaghetti Pie," "Husband's Delight," "Loose Sausage," "Jello Fluff," "Fuzzy Navel Cake," "Overnight French Toast," "Unique Meatballs," "Sandy Potatoes," and something called "Braunschweiger Spread." The most enticing recipe is for "Bourbon Dogs," which calls for: "One and one-half pounds hot dogs; one cup ketchup; one-half cup brown sugar; and one-half cup bourbon. Simmer uncovered for one and one-half hours until thick."

Thanks, Louise. Just . . . thanks.

I call an attorney. His secretary puts me on hold. As I am waiting, I hear music coming through the phone. It's Barry Manilow. And he's singing, "Mandy." Fortunately, the song is about to end. I am still on hold. The next thing I hear is . . . Neil Diamond!

Oy. Just oy.

A friend goes away for three days. I agree to take care of her cat. All I have to do is feed the cat and make sure it has water. On the first day, I approach the apartment. I open the door. The cat releases a blood-curdling scream. It comes after me with its claws. It's an attack cat!! I make another approach. I open the door. Again, the cat hacks at me and screeches. It's a maniac cat!! I am shocked. I feel like a character in a Stephen King novel. ...

I open a can of cat food. I open the door two inches. The cat sticks its paw through the door, trying to draw blood. It's ... lunatic cat!! I slide the can of cat food into the apartment -- spilling, I'm sure, its savory juices on my friend's hallway carpet -- and slam the door. Then I look around to see if anyone has been watching.

Humiliating. Just so . . . humiliating.

On his way to vacation on a far-off island, my pal Joey Amalfitano's international flight is 30 minutes late. As a result, Joey misses his connection to the island. It is late; there are no more flights to the island until the next morning. Joey is stranded in a foreign airport. "No problem," says an official for the offending airline. "We put you up in hotel for night." So Joey and 20 other stranded passengers board a bus. After a 90-minute ride, the bus arrives at a dock and meets a ferry. The ferry takes the bus across a bay. The bus then takes the tired and surly travelers to a hotel. Joey and the others go to their rooms. They sleep for three hours. The bus takes them back to the ferry. The ferry takes the bus back across the bay. The bus takes everyone back to the airport. But there is a terrible traffic jam, and Joey misses his flight to the far-off island a second time.

Great. Just great.

I park at a quarter-only parking meter with nickels-only change.

Great.

Government researchers in California kill more than 200 birds, fit them with transmitters, smear them in oil, then throw them in the ocean to see how far they float.

Just great.

I show up for my dry cleaning a day early.

Great.

The author of "Is Elvis Alive?" has come out with a sequel.

Just great!

I rent a movie on videotape -- and there's a Pepsi commercial on it!

Great!

Boxer shorts are in!

Great. Just great!

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