Friday, November 20, 2015

Boots on the Ground

I have the whole thing figured out. 

The Wrong (heretofore The Right, as in politically) are calling with ever greater stridency for Boots on the Ground in the Middle East. Such is the fondness with which they look back at George W Bush’s liberation of the poor oppressed people of Iraq that they long to repeat the process, perhaps imagining President Rubio standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier in a sexy flight suit that makes his genitals look large and declaring, “Mission accomplished!” in the wake of “our” have toppled another despot we like less than the despots we (from this point forward, just imagine that every instance of we is encased in quotation marks) think are just fine. 

Or maybe we could try not repeating the process. My proposal is that we end all military operations in the Middle East. On the planes we send over to bring our military personnel home, we could be sending over construction workers and architects, whose mission it would be to construct hospitals and universities that we would, on completion, turn over unconditionally — as in not demanding mass conversion to evangelical Christianity, for instance — to the local people.  

In many cases, I would expect Taliban warlords and what have you to blow up the schools and hospitals at their first opportunity, especially if it came to light that girls might be educated in the schools. That would of course be heartbreaking. But more heartbreaking than jihadist massacres? More heartbreaking than hundreds of young persons whose boots had been on the ground coming home in body bags after having killed someone else’s son or daughter?

Herewith, an idea that I think may very well win me this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Let’s put hundreds of thousands of boots on the ground — but without anyone’s tootsies inside. I anticiapate a fair number of residents of the countries on which we drop platefuls of boots suffering head injuries, but can you imagine the delight of those persons' neighbors on discovering that attractive, stylish new footwear that’s is theirs, thanks to Uncle Sam, for the grabbing?

I don’t anticipate Timberland, Frye, Nocona, or Laredo being sufficiently patriotic to lower the prices of their fine footwear to a point at which my proposal becomes fiscally viable to The Wrong (who, don't forget, think that handing out fewer food stamps will get the national debt paid off before next Easter). I can't imagine any of us wanting to see a project of this scope handed over to China or Bangladesh. So how about we instead invite a couple of million Syrians to enter the country, build inexpensive, but humane shelter for them in South Dakota, and put them to work making boots for no pay, but with the understanding that 12 months of boot-making for lfood and shelter and child care and education for the kiddies) entitles them to a green card? 

Everyone wins! The Wrong will have gotten their boots on the ground. When the jihadists go into poor neighborhoods in the Middle East to recruit prospective suicide bombers, though, the locals will point to their snazzy new footwear and say, “The Americans gave me these. What have you ever given me?” The Syrian refugees get refuge, and food, and housing, and the promise of a green card. South Dakota, in which the most exotic food one can presently find is pizza, gets hummus and kebabs and what have you. Yum! Best of all, to look at in the egocentric way we Americans have, you and I will no longer need worry quite so much about being blown to bits. 

As you may know, I have for the past several months been the sole socialist candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, but it may be time to admit that my campaign, like Govs. Jindal’s, Perry’s, and Walker’s before me, just hasn’t seemed to strike the right chord with the, uh, base. The dignified thing might be for me to withdraw from the race, and make it known that I shall be pleased to be President Rubio’s Secretary of State.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Notations of My Beauty

I am very well aware that my great success with women — and men, and children! — is largely a matter of luck. My ease with people — my natural charm, if you will — is just something I’ve always had. Similarly, the fact of my looking approximately 25 years younger than my actual age has to do as much with genetic happenstance as with the fact that I go regularly to the gym, drink only rarely, moisturize twice daily, gave up smoking in 1976, and eat lots of fresh vegetables. 

Charm, I think, is the ability to make the other person feel interesting, valued, and attractive. I do this most commonly by feigning great interest in what he or she might be telling me, and by regularly exclaiming, “Oh, my!” or, more cogently, “Wow!” This isn’t to suggest that, like everyone else, I haven’t developed certain strategies for coping with the bumptious, boorish, and self-delighted. I have an acquaintance, for instance, who regards himself as Oscar Wilde Jr. In the course of a conversation, he will frequently get all puffed up like a particular sort of fish and then look skyward, making clear that he is about to intone something that he regards as enormously witty. In the last days of our sort-of-friendship, I got in the habit of unzipping myself and peeing on his ankles as he delivered his putative bon mots. In several cases, onlookers found my doing so very much wittier than what my acquaintance was saying.

I will here confess that my remarkable good looks aren’t solely to do with my wonderful genes, diet and exercise. Some years ago I traveled to Thailand to undergo extensive cosmetic surgery, and in hopes of my regaining my self-confidence, which had been decimated by my third wife’s having run off with a humorless Swiss electronics magnate with no sense of humor and a very unpleasant accent. I was so successful in the second regard that I cancelled my surgical appointments. Every time I would leave my hotel, local women would call out, “Hello, handsome,” as I ambled past. But the thrill of this soon dissipated, as I came to understand that any farang (roughly translatable as “rich-looking Westerner”) was likely to be greeted with comparable enthusiasm. And it wasn’t long before I began feeling objectified. I hoped the local beauties might call, “Hello, talented,” or, “Hello, witty,” occasionally, but had to content myself with notations of my beauty. 

Nor do I kid myself that my great success with women is entirely to do with a combination of charm and remarkable good looks. I know that my palpable prosperity has at least as much to do with the fact that gals on the bus and elsewhere are forever offering me their phone number, and, in some cases, items of intimate apparel. I take pride in having built my talent management empire from the ground up, and never having been given anything but advice. The first act I signed, Roger Risotto & The Rapscallions, were doomed by the British refusal to pronounce risotto properly. In their version, the word rhymes with Lotto or grotto, and has a short first vowel, whereas it’s properly pronounced reez-OH-toh, with the second syllable pronounced as in, “Oh, my!” They similarly can’t be persuaded to voice the final syllable of Tenerife (which they pronounce Tenor Reef). They may have lost their empire, but no one can force them to pronounce words properly!

My most recent signing has been Gerry Giovanni & The Jihadists. They’re enormously talented, but I’m afraid that, in light of recent events, their name might prove an impediment. I have urged Gerry to rebrand the act Gerry, Larry, Barry, and Mary, but he points out that doing so would compel him to hire a woman, and a woman in a musical combo, especially one with long legs and pouty lips, invariably alters its “dynamic.” I myself have been in combos in which various instrumentalists got sulky and unpleasant to be around in the face of a female member seeming to prefer the lead singer.