Sometimes, when I'm having trouble stirring up a column, I just sit down and start writing. I type in the first thing that pops to mind and keep typing. It's like priming a pump, that's the way I look at it. I'm doing it right now. Let's see if it works. Uh ... OK ... uh ... uh ...
Damn. No such luck. It's been 45 minutes since I typed that last "uh ..." and my pump is still coming up dry. I wish I was outside, doing something. Barbecuing something. Drinking something that friends brought over in a cooler full of ice. I wish I was having fun. Sometimes it seems like everybody is having fun but me.
Like last night. It was the Fourth of July, and when the sun went down, I was here alone, watching Star Trek. (TNG, just so you know.) It was the episode where everyone on the Enterprise except young Wesley Crusher gets hooked on a video game through a skinny alien headset. The gismo reminded me a little of those iPod ear buds, and I thought, Imagine that! There's an iPod-looking thingie from 20 years before Apple started selling iPods. I'll bet this very Star Trek is where Steve Jobs got the idea, in fact. I bet I could get a column out of that, about how Gene Roddenberry was so far ahead of his time that if he were still around, Darrell Issa would be calling him in to testify before a committee in one of those Congressional investigations into the liberal influence on popular science fiction.
I almost went to the computer that very second to start writing, but the first fireworks began rumbling in from outside, out where other people were barbecuing stuff and having fun. The boomers must have cleared my head because I suddenly remembered that at this particular moment in time, there are no Congressional investigations into the liberal influence on popular science fiction. Damn, I thought, that would have been a good column. I was disappointed, for sure, since I'd been straining my brain all day to come up with a column idea, and for a moment there, I thought I had it. But I'll tuck it away for future reference. Sooner or later, if things keep going the way they are, some congressman, whether it's Darrell Issa or not, will want to investigate science-fiction liberals, so I'll just hang onto the idea until then.
But here I am, still fiddle-farting around for a topic. Normally I don't have so much trouble getting started. Normally, however, I don't put my wife on a plane Fourth of July morning, leaving me all by myself on that very day when most people are outside, drinking out of ice-filled coolers and sitting in lawn chairs with family and friends, all carefree and crap. All day long, every time I tried to concentrate on getting a column idea, all I could think about was, Wonder what I'll have for dinner tonight. Normally, see, I would simply ask, "Honey, what are we having for dinner tonight?" But now it's up totally to me what I'm having for dinner (tonight, last night and several nights to come) and how's a person supposed to come up with column ideas when he has that sort of pressure in his life?
Actually, I had a pretty good idea a few days ago, shortly after that shuffling weasel Rep. Eric Cantor walked out of the negotiations on raising the debt ceiling. When I heard about that, I thought, Oh, golly. How touching. Isn't it just divine how concerned the Republicans and tea baggers and right-wing crazies in general are over the economic burden the national debt will put on the backs of our children and grandchildren. What magnanimous beings they are. Now if only they would show a fraction of that concern over the burden on our children and grandchildren that an environmental collapse, unregulated poisons in everything from the atmosphere to the oceans, un-inspected and deadly bacteria in their food supply, un-monitored and ever-present danger on their jobs, and accelerating climate-driven disasters from crop failures to killer storms that will result from their wholesale emasculation of government regulatory agencies like the EPA, FDA and OSHA, along with their refusal to respond in any way to the threat of global warming.
Yeah, it was going to be a pretty good column, had I written it. I was going to start off greasy with sarcasm, see? On the first part where I was going to make them sound like they really are decent people and really do give a crap about children and grandchildren, I was going to slather it on thick about what saints they are. And then I planned on flipping an about-face and unloading a litany of glaring evidence that they don't give a crap about anything, let alone children and grandchildren. How they're gnawing like rat zombies on the government oversight meant to keep our air breathable and our water drinkable, our guts free of salmonella and E. coli, our environment relatively stable, and our kids from sliding back into the old child labor days. I mean, that's what's going on, and all you have to do to see it happening is wake up and look.
So in the end, that column (had I written it) would have been about how they sob their crocodile hearts out over the economic burden on future generations, even while they are promoting radical and existential burdens that could mean there won't be a much of a future to cry over. That would have been a damn good column. I should have written it when I had the chance.
But what did I do instead? Yeah, you guessed it. I went outside. Thought I could have more fun out there than in here. Happens every day, every summer, ever since I was a little kid. Now excuse me. I'm going out for a while, and then I have to start thinking about what's for dinner. I'll get this started later.