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Hot flashes are usually a private matter. Alison Teal shares hers.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

HOT FLASHES FROM THE CHAMPAIGN TRAIL

It's been a little over five months since the election and I've finally crawled out from under my rock. I can't say I've healed, but the wounds are no longer bleeding and I'm out again in what passes for fresh air in this administration. I'm still not sure I'm ready though. Getting on with it and getting over it is not my strong suit. I'm more of a “she's wild in her fury” kind of person.

Oh, I've gotten so I can handle the everyday stuff - things like throwing open the Alaskan wilderness to the gluttonous beasts who want to drill or giving the World Bank over to one of the world's most rigid ideologues not to mention one of Suharto's best friends. Those things aren't even worthy of newspaper headlines anymore. But I do still get upset over news that a San Francisco filmmaker hopes to make a bunch of money from his recordings of suicides off the Golden Gate Bridge (a sort of zenith reality show).

I no longer hyperventilate when the self-absorbed television newscasts gloss over the fact that the administration is rewarding the author of the memos justifying Abu Gahrib (not to mention the enabler of Bush's reign as Texas' Executioner-in-Chief) with the lofty position of Attorney General. But I do have to breath deeply into a bag when I read that Martha Stewart found just loads of delicious dandelion greens in the prison yard.

I'm no longer shocked at Condoleezza Rice's outrage that someone might “impugn [her] integrity”. But when I hear the shopping network advertised as “commercial free” I want to tear my hair out.

I don't stare at the paper in open-jawed amazement when I see that the go-it-alone foreign policy advocate John Bolton may be the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. rather than, say, Bill Clinton (though he was more likely to be nominated for Secretary General.) But I begin to twitch when I see yet more coverage of Michael Jackson's grotesque house, Scott Peterson's impending book and movie contract or Robert Blake's post trial journey into the desert where he's slithering away to heal by “do[ing] a little cowboyin”.

Yes, the fact that the government has become the political extension of a religious movement hardly raises my blood pressure. As Robin Williams says: Why worry about Iraq's adopting a constitution? They can take ours. We're not using it.

My growing cynicism makes me uneasy. After all, why shouldn't people feel entitled to sue when they don't lose weight eating bacon cheeseburgers? For that matter, who among us hasn't bombed the wrong country? Mostly I am overcome by gloom because we won't have Hunter Thompson around anymore to voice our outrage at the unspeakable decadence and depravity of our time.

And now for something completely different.

For those of you who are still wondering what happened in that Paris café last November - and, come on, admit it, have you actually been thinking about anything else since then? (see November 18, 2004 Hotflahsesfromthecampaigntrail@blogspot.com ) What I actually did do is boring and banal compared to the multitude of suggestions you all sent me. An impressive 23% of you who responded described what you would have said in flawless French. Food played an integral part in 58% of the responses, wine and hot liquids in another 18%. Very bad language was in 41%. My favorite two were the following:

Bruce Ducker from Denver, Colorado: What I would have done would depend entirely on what I had ordered. Escargots a la Bourguignonne, accompanied by a light Rhone, make the ideal appetizer for this circumstance: the shells of the smaller, more succulent gastropods can be inserted into the nostrils. For entree I would recommend the heavier stocks and sauces. A coulibiac en croute leaves one satisfied but unstained. On the other hand, pot-au-feau with all its country charm, served to advantage with a robust claret, can make a lasting impact when dumped in one's lap. Dessert provides an amplitude of choices. A creme renversee au caramel might stick with one, and the palissade aux marrons is particularly pleasing if the chestnuts are fresh. But memories are made with the crepes Suzette, first, you will recall, served by Chef Henri Charpentier in Monte for the then Prince of Wales, which can be flamed at tableside and dispensed at your discretion.

Michael Winters from Washington, D.C.: Like the scene in Casablanca, I would have stood in front of the woman's table and sung La Marseillaise.

What I actually did do to the viper-tongued banshee was stammer, turn red in the face, pound my fists on the table and scream at her to stop ruining everyone's dinner with her ignorant, venomous lies - thereby proving myself to be an equally boorish and offensive American. I am rarely clever in extremity. Changing tables was not an option and after my outburst finishing dinner wasn't either, so we paid our bill and left. Not very impressive, right? After leaving, Sam returned and paid for two glasses of Calvados to be delivered to their table with the following note: “This is the sort of random act of generosity that you would have experienced in a Kerry administration.”

It was better than the stammering but I can't say it satisfied my soul. As Woody Allen once said "the meek shall inherit the earth; right between their front two teeth."

There it is. The end of my blog. Over the eleven months on the campaign trail we slept in some 150 inns, hotels and motels as well as 31 private guest rooms. We ate in dives and diners and every fine restaurant we could track down. We looked up old friends and made a lot of new ones. We drove over 40,000 miles. It was a very good year even if our worst fears did come true in the end.

So now I'm trying to get healthy, find the occasional escape and keep the snakes at bay. The following website sums up my current life:

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