For 10 days’ vacation I studiously avoid the news, e-mail, blogs, teevee news, sports, the innerwebs, and even newspapers. The Magical Unplugged Squathole Tour. Air out the brain. Detox the circuits. You get the idea.
I return to the following, and immediately experience the hard landing of terminal cultural shock:
[O]n Monday, federal prosecutors accused 11 people of being part of a Russian espionage ring, living under false names and deep cover in a patient scheme to penetrate what one coded message called American “policy making circles.”
Jessie Gugig, 15, said she could not believe the charges, especially against Mrs. Murphy. “They couldn’t have been spies,” she said…. “Look what she did with the hydrangeas.” – NYTimes
Okay, she was kidding around. Wasn’t she? Is there something incompatible about hydrangeas and espionage I should know about? Is this tidbit found in the Homeland Security playbook?
How about this caption from the same paper:
“A voter in Bujumbura prepared to cast a ballot in Burundi’s presidential election Monday. After all the opposition parties pulled out of the race, the incumbent president, Pierre Nkurunziza, was the sole candidate. Grenade attacks kept down voter turnout. (my italics)
Well, yeah, grenades just might dampen the ol’ get-out-the-vote spirit. Hell, in this country, it’s axiomatic that inner-city residents don’t vote when it rains. But it’s quite a jolt to come up against this nasty shit again after 10 days of worrying about nothing more serious than which hand to extend to reach for the beer. Especially if one is as ambidextrous as he is omnibulous.
Spiraling back to reality, I lunch at a diner with a famous local blogger this afternoon. We’re trying to do this weekly (weakly), keeping alive several years of mutual productive antagonism that transmogrifies into creative amusement (ours, anyway). The waitress, an elderly sort whose smiling face complements the cracked supper plates she deals in daily, delivers the check and tells us, “I’ll take this when you’re ready.” “Excellent,” I say. “As soon as we have jobs.”
Shit, did that come out of my face? Seriously? I’m back home, godammit.
Photo: AIA through Golden Mile.
Extra credit: Pronounce “Nkurunziza.”