by Barry Friedman
The Ghost of Christmas Present
I am, as my many, many dear, dear Jewish friends would say, verklempt. It is a word not often used around Christmas. Yes, I said it-- the "C" word. Hanukkah is over, so get over it.
It, like the dating website advises, is OUR TIME now.
(Full disclosure: I am a client)
The Nutcracker performances leave me cold, the peppermint bark gets stuck in my craw, for when I think of this past year, this botched year in politics, the bellicosity, I anger easily, I weep heartily.
But first … flight.
I marvel at birds, how they soar and don’t smell of Jet-A fuel or adhere to the FAA. They fly solo, laconic in comfort and freedom, unlike those in coach, where your average columnists sit--where I, as a lass, before the books, before morning in America and the revolution, accompanied by my Dramamine and little bottles of Stoli, sat. Crowded--full of women, big women in big jewelry and big accessories, talking to men, big men with bellies and bravado and exchanging Bermanisms, trying to corral children, big children with iPads and Gummies--it is where I tried to recline, where I dreamed--oh this is so tough to recall without weeping--of days where there would be cities on shining hills and muscular calves in the finest of leather boots.
It was, dear friends, like steerage--like the ships that brought not-yet Americans to a not-yet America.
I could go for a nip.
I marvel at this America now, this America in full with its cheese sandwiches, vanilla wafers in cellophane baggies, Kayak accounts, and Tom Clancy novels.
And now, I hear, phones, cellular devices, with their Hall and Oates and barking ring tones will be allowed soon.
Well, not all. Delta says Nyet.
I want to put down my chablis--yes, I asked for one--and applaud like a seal.
We are a noisy country. The heavens demand quiet.
Speaking of accolades, there was no joy in Mudville this year—and by “joy” I mean “bump in the president’s job approval rating” and by “Mudville” I mean “Washington.”
(Your great writers can weave a metaphor through a sentence like that)
So how do we describe this man, this president, this Hawaiian (Sheath your arrows should they be aimed at me, for it is he who wishes to be known as a man who comes from the land of sandals and shaved ice and Don Ho)? Why--I must ask--why must he vacation there and not on the homeland, on solid ground, on, as my dear, dear friend, Joan Didion, would say “this continent”?
Many, many news organizations have quoted me—my reference to a “botched” year—and I am grateful. That great, good man, Bob Schieffer, gave me, what the kids like to call, a shout-out on Sunday.
He, like Gorbachev; me, like Thatcher (yes, I knew her, too)
Yes we can do business together.
I looked the word up in the dictionary, as many of your great writers do, and it was the dictionary from England, the fat one, the blue one, the one that used to come with a magnifying glass in the cardboard drawer--GENUIS--and it said “a bungled piece of work.”
Alas, we knew.
You may not keep your doctor, we learn.
And next to loved ones, is there a closer bond than the one between a pre-menopausal woman and physicians’ assistant?
I dream now, too, a recurring one, in which I hear the vase that is Obamacare break—it is literally a vase with the name ACA on it in white tape--the ACA written in bold like the word on a bottle you'd find on the sidelines of the NFL. I see the shards of glass, this trap, this ambush, and then the bare feet of a president, the man with the arches of a point guard, approach and I plead with him, “No, sir, no. Your feet, your presidency!”
He doesn’t listen. He never listens. Not to Cruz, not to Sasha, not to Bolton.
Not to me.
But the future … so tough to ponder, so delicious to do, though. As he is about to step on the collected pile of jagged edges and pain, I wake, panting, my breasts heaving.
He may not make it. We may.
I see the mistletoe hanging lonely over my door, beckoning, mocking me; I see my OUR TIME renewal for 2014 on top of my 50 Shades of Grey and Killing Jesus (early gifts to myself).
Santa will soon be here.
I smile a smile. A sad smile, but a smile, nevertheless.
2016 … 2016 … 2016.
The tears slowly dry.
Santa is coming. Jesus is born. Christie is losing weight.