So I’m sitting on the shower stall floor. Again. Hot water seems the only failsafe when nausea has me in Her viselike grip. But She hadn’t yet let go. So I sat and listened to music and looked at my toilet.
I doubt I would have given it much pondering in a hotel or a rental. But it’s a real consideration when you own your house. Few things are more menacing than a wrong choice there.
Thus it was with much cauton that I bought my current model, the most expensive available at Home Depot. I forget how much I paid, or what it’s called. But the advertising on the box said it was “Capable of Flushing 1,000 Golf Balls!”
Is that a standard unit of measure in toilet manufacturing? And why golf balls? Is that the average size? Or weight? Or volume?
And is 1,000 a lot? Did scientists count, or measure, or weigh or do whatever they did, and call out a Eureka! when they hit a thousand Titleists? Do plumbers talk about having to toil back in the day when you could cram only 15 golf balls down the crapper?
Anyway, She let go, and the nausea left, and I quit pondering. But that’s my Toilet Story.
It was at a birthday party and barbecue at Anthony’s house to celebrate the sixth birthday of Audrey. Anthony, a friend, colleague and baker extraordinaire, had made a massive E.T. cake: a full moon with a chocolate profile of E.T. and Elliott biking through the the night sky in the middle. Friends have urged Anthony start a bakery, called “DaddyCakes.” I told him I support the nagging, as long as he doesn’t forget the little people when he becomes filthy rich.
Being the utter ham, I decided I would do a brief magic act for her. I mean, what more could a child want for her birthday than to see an adult man showboat?
There, I said it. I love magic. Since I was a boy. Magic appeals, to paraphrase Lincoln, to the dorkier angels of my nature. I will buy a magic trick just to learn how it works. I watch anything Penn & Teller do. I have entertained audiences by the several. My favorite audience is kids; partly because they still believe in magic, partly, perhaps, because I have yet to emotionally mature beyond them.
And I had no intentions of doing so last night. I thought up a small routine, and grabbed one of my favorite pocket tricks, the D’Lite.
After cake, we settled in for the movie playing in his backyard theater (Anthony’s energy makes me look like a zombie extra from The Walking Dead). The film, of course, was E.T. the Extra Terrestrial. Midway through the movie, Audrey came to the kitchen for a cake refill. I caught her on the patio, set down my cake, called her over.
“Wanna see a magic trick?”
“Ok, well, let me ask you something; are you liking E.T.?”
“Did you know I’m like E.T.?”
“Seriously. I ride a bike like E.T.” I held a wink, to show my ever-webbing crow’s nest. “I’m wrinkly in the face like E.T.
“And, when I want to phone home to tell the dogs I love them, I just make my finger glow and send them an ‘I Love You’ message.”
I did the simplest of tricks, making the D’Lite glow red and appearing to throw a tiny star into the air. Audrey followed the toss, and opened her mouth a little when it vanished.
If I could ever learn to shut the hell up, I could have ended the trick there, on a note of wonder. But as I said, I’m a ham. Like, Oscar Mayer poster child ham.
So I continued the act. I caught the star. Pretended to breathe it up my nose and pull it from my ear. Pretended to swallow it fart it out. Overdid it enough for Audrey to realize it was a trick I was holding.
The wondrous thing about magic for kids, talking with kids, listening to them, is that they know no limits of possibility. If children watch something disappear, you’ll routinely hear, “Whooooaaaa.” “Where did it go?” Do the same for adults, even impressed ones, and the commentary never varies: “Do that again.”
But all kids are the exception. So I shouldn’t have been surprised by Audrey’s response, the first time I’ve ever gotten one like it, and perhaps the nicest one I’ve ever received.
“Can I have that?”
When I stopped laughing, I told her she could, on three conditions: “One, you show it to your mom and ask if it’s okay. Two, never let your little brother touch it, because he could put it in his mouth. And three, don’t tell anyone how it’s done; that can be our secret.”
She nodded, and I put the tip on her thumb, at least three sizes her own digit. After a brief practice, we went into the kitchen together, where Jill was resuscitating the kitchen after the tsunami of a child’s birthday party.
“Mom!” Audrey said. She put the tip under her nose, lit it, sniffed the star right up her nostril. When Jill stopped laughing, we reiterated the Golden Rules for Audrey. She again nodded impatiently, and ran back to the screening.
I returned, too, but couldn’t watch the movie. My eyes were peeled for a blinking red star, which seemed to float through the crowd as Audrey sparkled her new magic.
I’ve never been big on cliches, but they exist for they are true. And I guess home really is where the heart is. Because she phoned straight into mine.
He would be having a field day with the Republicans. Donald Trump continues to trounce the GOP presidential wannabes, despite his tendency to blow your mind straight out of your ass with his racism, chauvinism, and general disdain for anyone not named Donald John Trump. Hell, even his hair wants out of the race (his head looks like it threw up on itself), yet there seems no levy strong enough for Hurricane Donald.
But given Stewart’s contrarian instincts (when is this guy going to run for office? Jesus, if Al Franken can dork his way to the Senate, what’s to keep Stewart from the Oval Office?), he might have given a heartfelt thank you to Trump.
Not only for the punchlines, which are endless. But also for revealing, like a reality show, what America truly craves: Someone to own it.
Stewart even had a name for the current American political landscape: Bullshit Mountain. But, in all honesty, you couldn’t blame Trump for adding to the pile, currently at new heights thanks to Democrats and Republicans alike.
Listen to contenders in the ’16 field, and they spend more time explaining what they’re not than what they are. Not a racist, not a homophobe, not a tax-n’-spender, not an atheist, not a comin’ for your guns. It’s a strategy of pre-emptive apology, lest they offend and, gulp, go viral.
Not Trump. He’s one of the few politicians to admit wealth, though all possess it. Trump not only will tell you “I’m rich,” but he’ll pull out the checkbook to brag: $8.5 million and change. Ask him about a balanced budget, and he’ll say “I’ll hire accountants.” Foreign’ policy? “I’ll kick their asses.” As him if he’s a racist, and he can’t help but tell you he is, usually punctuated with an “and fuck you for asking.”
The result? The latest GOP poll numbers, if the election were held today, according to the AP:
Donald Trump 28.3% Ben Carson 11.6% Jeb Bush 8.0% Marco Rubio 6.6% Ted Cruz 6.1% Carly Fiorina 5.8% Mike Huckabee 5.3% Scott Walker 4.7% John Kasich 4.1% Rand Paul 3.2% Chris Christie 2.7% Rick Perry 1.8% Rick Santorum 0.9% Bobby Jindal 0.6% Lindsey Graham 0.5% George Pataki 0.1% Jim Gilmore 0.0%
If you don’t recognize most of these names, you’re not alone. But, for the record, the man in second place is the Detroit-born neurosurgeon who said in a March interview that homosexuality was “absolutely” a choice, explaining that “a lot of people go into prison straight, and when they come out, they’re gay.”
Regardless of your political spin, it’s hard to miss the parallels between Trump and Carson: Successful business men, not weaned on politics, willing to own their positions. Analysts say that Trump could redefine traditional campaigning, because he isn’t dependent on the Koch brothers (or any other lobbyists, for that matter) for cash. At this point, who could blame anyone ready for a slash-and-burn approach to governance?
We may regret that approach.
The polls suggest we crave something else: sustenance. That just doesn’t flourish doesn’t grow on Bullshit Mountain.