Gaah! Anytime the door bell rings, I have to drop whatever I'm doing and slog upstairs to answer it. Then it's usually some kid wanting to know if I'm the owner of the house, and if so, would I be interested in a) vinyl siding, b) having my lawn winterized, or c) helping out some youth club I never heard of with the purchase of a nine-inch slab of chocolate-flavored wax and almond shards. About once a month, though, it's a couple of Jehovah Witnesses wondering if I've ever read The Watchtower. That's what I figured it was this time, Jehovah Witnesses, and on the way to the door, I grabbed a couple of quarters out of the candy dish my wife leaves on the knickknack shelf for things like last year's lemon drops, those magic paper clips that appear on the floor from nowhere, and loose change. I've learned it's quicker just to buy the damn magazine than to have them walk me through the table-of-contents, article by article, explaining what the titles mean just in case I'm one of those people who can't read. So if everything goes smoothly, all I'm out is a couple of minutes and four bits—unless, of course, I'm working on a column when they come. Which means it may take anywhere from a half-hour to three days to get my train of thought re-booted. And this time, I was hoping harder than usual I could get rid of them pronto because I was dealing with a subject of the utmost urgency—to wit: what a disaster it will be when the Dunce-in-Chief starts bombing Iran. So you can imagine my disappointment that it turned out not to be Jehovah Witnesses. (And that's something I never thought I'd hear myself say.)
"Red! What the hell are you doing here?"
"Dang, Cope! Y' cou'd at least purten' to be happy t' see me, co'n'tcha? Ah al'ays purten' ah'm happy t' see yew, so's the least y' cou'd do is return d' curt'sy."
"Sorry, Red. It's just that I was, uh, doing something."
"Yews were writin' agin, wurn'ts ya'?"
"As a matter of fact."
"Wull dis won' take long, sos yew c'n get back to whatchever goofball crud's on y'r mind soon as y'r answer me one queshtun. Id's a survee some of us pat'rotic fellers 'r cunductin' 'causen we t'ink ders been one o' dem ... whatcha-call-'em? ... outrages ahap'nin' and we aim t' set it right. So's ya' ready?"
"One question? OK, shoot."
Red pulled a Jack-In-The-Box napkin from one pocket, a ball point from another, and prepared to poll. "OK den, Cope ... whos d' yew think oughter o' gotten dat Nobler Peas Price. Al Gore? Or our U.S. fightin' boys f'r the outstandin' job they doin' in Eye-rag?"
"You gotta be kidding me, Red. You made a special trip over here to try to get me to say Gore doesn't deserve the Nobel prize?"
"Wurn't nothin' spayshul. Ah's been goin' door t' door since dem Swede sissies give it t' im. Yers juz happen t' be d' nex' door ah come to, dats all. Now, If'n yew cou'd hurry it up some wit' y'r responsin'. I'm hopin' t' finish up wit' Meridyun t'day an' move on t' Kuna by happy hour."
"You right-wingers think that by tearing down the great thing Gore has accomplished ... that is, getting Americans to finally pay attention to the biggest threat facing humanity ... that's somehow going to make Bush's miserable failures look better? Is that it?"
"Great thin'!? Shee-ud, Cope! Gore ain' 'gomplished nuthin' but sturrin' up scardy cats over sump'in' what ain't nowheres nohow! Dat gobular wurmin' hooey, id ain' nuthin' but one o' dem ... whatcha-call-'em? ... hoagzes. Dat's a done-been-proven fac'! Id's juz sumpt'in' yew gap'talistism-haters thunked up t' bring d' free murket to ids knees."
"You don't even know when you've lost, do you? The only place global warming has been proven to be a hoax is in the degenerating frontal lobes of turnips like James Imhoff and Bill Sali. You guys just sound ridiculous anymore. You sound like lunatics, howling at the incessant itch between your ears."
"Say y'r right, Cope. Lez juz say der's sum real gobular wurmin' goin' on. Den wha' 'bout Al Gore flyin' aroun' in jets and livin' in a big-butt house, huh? Ain' dat d' mos' hypnocritiful thin' y'r ever heard o'?"
"Anymore, it's hard to keep track of the most hypocritical thing I ever heard of, Red. But I would say that arguing the Nobel Peace Prize should have gone to a military force that's occupying a Third World country by what would be called brute force if it were anyone but us ... uh, that's definitely a contender. At least until something even more absurd comes along. And besides, no matter what Gore does, it wouldn't be enough for you birds. If he were living in a solar-powered teepee and traveling around the country on a bike, you'd make fun of him for that. It's just remarkable how jealous you Republicans are of him."
"Jail-uz!? Whad we got t' be jail-uz o' Al Gore for?"
"How about that he has more brains in his nose hairs than Bush has in his whole damn administration. How about that the entire civilized world recognizes Gore as by far the better man. How about that the only way Bush could beat Gore at anything, including the presidency, was by cheating."
"Ah dun heard all ah'm gerna, Cope! Id's plain t' see wha' side y'r biscuit's buttered on. And anyhows, that Nobler horse poop don't mean nuthin' no more. Not since dey give Jimmy Carter one. Id's juz fer'ners way o' laughin' at real 'Mericans. An' ah tell yew wha' ... soon as ol' George show dem Eye-rainys wha's wha', we'll ferget all 'bout Al Gore an' 'is stinkin' peas price. Ain't nobody gerna up-stage George Bush, ah tell yew wha'!"
"Jealous! Jealous, jealous, jealous! So jealous you can't spit."
"WE'S AIN'T JAIL-UZ!"
"Like snotty, talentless teenagers making fun of the smart kids ... that's what you are. You know you'll never be honored for anything yourselves since you're no good at anything, so you ridicule not only the honorees but the honors. Jealous jealous jealous jealous. Snotty, jealous brats. That's all you are."
Whoa boy. He was pretty mad when he left. Not that I'm worried about it. He'll be back. What's he got, besides me? People like Red ... what would they have without Hillary and Gore and Ted Kennedy and Nancy Pelosi? Without Eye-rainys to threaten and Swede sissies to scorn and immigrants to gang up on? They are nothing, if not the sum of their separate feuds.