Waiting in line yesterday at a coffee joint in my small-town Los Angeles suburban village, I scanned newspaper headlines, and was drawn to the most catastrophic: the likely nomination of the Exxon Mobil CEO — a man with as much diplomatic experience as I (then again, maybe he didn’t spend a semester in Spain) — as America’s Secretary of State. I wanted to shout FORGIVE US THOMAS JEFFERSON! Instead I emitted a muted groan, shook my head, and looked up to see a friend and her little girl at a table in the corner. My friend was reading the same newspaper. I walked over to them, touched her shoulder, and she looked up, aghast. We cupped our hands to our foreheads. Can this be for real?
Seeking solace, we turned to her daughter, a pre-schooler carefully sipping spoonfuls of oatmeal drowned in whole milk. We let our talk turn to baking gingerbread houses and Christmas cookies, and adopting puppies, and wondering when she’ll get a dog. We talked of things that might suck the poison out of our blood; emergency triage for the soul.
We are just two of the the millions of Americans horrified by each new designated Cabinet nominee and the damage they will do to our country — to our natural resources, to our economy, to our rights — and who are pulled by a primal desire to look away. To bury and busy ourselves in cookies and sweet singing and this little girl enjoying her oatmeal in her rainbow-striped sweater, yellow floral dress, and red and white striped tights. Maybe here in this village, in this coffee shop, in this protected affluence, we who don’t depend on the minimum wage, who can buy water flown in from Fiji if the tap turns bad, who might avoid the initial arrows of hate, have the luxury to look away.
But we can’t. I’m sorry, folks, we can’t look away forever. The world is counting on us.
So let’s get R&R, let’s bake cookies and build gingerbread houses and celebrate Bar Mitzvahs, but let’s remember they are not for hiding in, but for restoring us for the fight.
My friend asked as we parted, “Is your sign still up?” I smiled and said, “Yes. It is bathed and sparkling in holiday lights.” It is adorned for the duration.
(In case you missed it, my lawn sign got the attention of a neighbor who opined in the local weekly paper that it was “silly” of me to keep it up. Thing was, I had just taken it down. After reading the paper, I had no choice but to restore it, lest anyone think I’d been cowed by the unsigned comment. Here it stands. I still think it’s pretty.)
4 thoughts on “Savor Every Sweetness; It’s About to Get Nasty”
As usual Laura wonderful and insightful. I’m about to take off for Beth’s family in Salt Lake City and Alex’s family will join us there and we will bake cookies and admire Christmas trees and lights and sparkles and play with our resident six-year-old and 29 year old Bunnies and then come back in January for the struggle.
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Lovely, lovely, lovely. And true. We mustn’t look away.
Yup, we felt exactly the same way when Romney lost to Obama. The American public can’t possibly be that stupid we said. Can they? But we held on and put our shoulders to the wall and voila! Four years later we actually won. Relieved, we discovered that the Rust Belt and many others of us not living on the elite coasts were watching and becoming more and more disgusted at insane regulations and “leading the world from behind!” I still have my Romney sign.
You nailed us! We elite coastal dwellers like to drink elite clean water out of our taps, and we enjoy breathing elite clean air, all courtesy of regulations. We like to earn our elite living minimum wages so we don’t have to raise our kids on our elite skid rows, and we are fond of making sure banks don’t screw elite working people.
We also elitely believe in elite science.