Upsetting
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
 
Posters splattered across the post office beg GOD BLESS AMERICA. The unsmiling clerks are the real American heroes, they tell us. They had the misfortune of encountering the poison in the mail.

Do you want it to get there tomorrow?

The advertising machine persists with the talk of terrorism, and someone says, I’d like to see what these little cockroaches would do face to face with the Terminator. Huh? That’s what I thought.

Insh’Allah, indeed.

Outside the post office a 70-year-old man opens the door of his sports car right into the adjacent sport utility vehicle. The 30-year-old driver of the SUV honks his horn, gets out and comes around to see the damage.

The older gent gathers his belongings and says, Sorry, I don’t think it hit very hard.

As he starts to walk toward the post office, the younger man tells him to be more careful.

I am careful. Sorry.

The younger man says he should be more careful when he parks next to the SUV. The older man pushes past him and heads into the GOD BLESS AMERICA post office. The arrogance in piety all around at the holiday time.

Stephen Malkmus, the architect of the greatest half-assed band of all time, writes a love song to the late bald actor Yul Brynner. In a room he writes the song, and he writes another about a man in a cover band with an 18-year-old neo-hippie girlfriend headed for law school.

These matters are not the concern of terrorists or policymakers. The advertising machine says the orange is ‘serious orange.’ It’s serious orange now, not like all the past oranges.

Nor of the man whose SUV was lightly tapped by the door of sports car driven by a septuagenarian. Having lost the battle with the older man, the young man lingers in the parking lot, closely inspecting his carriage and rubbing the paint with his hand.

But no one is left watching. They all saw the older man trump him, and the young man is hollering into the wind.

What did the man say those years ago?

By persuading others, we convince ourselves.
 
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