The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Friday, April 25, 2008

THE KNOW NOTHINGS HAD A POINT: First of all, I would just like to say for the record, and just for the record I’ve always wanted to say that something was just for the record, as if someone was actually keeping a record these days, except for St. Peter, the credit bureaus, and the IRS—that I have nothing against foreigners per se, despite their ongoing and persistent foreignness. I know that there are people who will go out of their way to make excuses for foreigners retaining their foreign ways, even in their own native foreign countries, but I have never been one of these poor benighted individuals. The sooner these aliens start cleaning up their acts and start acting like normal people—ordering pizza, going to the deli to buy a baloney sandwich and a handgun, joining the Republican Party, and speaking English 24/7—the better off they and the rest of the world will be.

At first, of course, the transformation from heathenish foreigner to solid American citizen will be difficult and not everyone will be able to make the grade. There are members of my family, for example, who never bothered to get right with God and remained foreigners until the day they died. Some of them even came to this country and remained foreigners. My aunt Ellen, to use another familial example, has lived in deepest, darkest New Jersey for most of her adult life without ever losing the mindset of the small Irish village in which she was born or her Irish citizenship, either. But for the vast majority of the wretched masses yearning to breathe free, the change will be beneficial in the extreme, and will lead inevitably to cleaner skin, whiter teeth, and perhaps even a well-paying job at the department of motor vehicles, where their inability to speak English properly will make our standing in line only for them to tell us we’ve got the wrong form an even more hellish experience than it already is and will go a long way towards advancing the DMV’s longstanding goal of making their agency even more hated than the Internal Revenue Service, if such a thing is even metaphysically or metaphorically possible. But the one thing that foreigners will absolutely have to change, beyond their propensity to stand around hollering at each other in utterly incomprehensible gibberish and not understanding that the inventor of the shower intended that people use his device for the promotion and advancement of personal cleanliness and not as a convenient way to water their marijuana plants, is their unfortunate tendency to show up at my house and eat corn flakes.

Allow me to say here that I am sure corn flakes are a wonderful product; they are certainly one of the staples that has made this our Great Republic the nation that it is today and that more Americans would be better off if they would abandon the milk-covered camouflaged candy bars that constitute a large portion of the nation’s breakfast menu and eat corn flakes instead. It does not necessarily follow, however, that I should eat corn flakes. Since we’re speaking plainly here, let me just say that there are few things in the world that I dislike more than corn flakes. Corn flakes are boring, insipid, boring, mind-dulling, and very likely to bring their galoshes to work with them on a sunny day on the off-chance that an out of season monsoon might occur sometime between nine in the morning and five in the evening. Corn flakes are, in short, too much like me for my psychic comfort and so I won’t have them in the house. So when I open the pantry door and see box after box of corn flakes, I know that the relatives are coming to town, emerging from their dark foreign earth into the bright sunlight of the American day, arriving like a swarm of passport-carrying locusts looking for a place to sleep and directions to the nearest ravageable amber wave of grain.

And so it was that, despite my best efforts to prevent the disaster, foreigners came into my home, ate their vile corn flakes, drank everything alcoholic in the house down to my aftershave, and then stayed to shop. Shopping is all-important to the flotsam and jetsam of Europe accumulating at my house, taking, as it does, the place of Christianity as a system of belief and worship, and unlike their predecessors from the Emeril Aisle (yes, I know that it’s Emerald Isle; this is a pun, a double pun, in fact, which I tossed in for the hell of it, and therefore you do not have to tell me that the Food Network’s own Emeril Lagasse does not rate his own aisle at the supermarket yet—I already know this, thank you, and he’s working hard to rectify this situation) this lot has no intention of staying on and building a bright American future for themselves; they are here for as long as it takes to push their bloated piles of swag through the fifty tons or more line at Sam’s Club and then they are blowing this red, white, and blue Popsicle stand while the blowing is good, and not a moment too soon, if you ask me.

Still, the experience has been more than a little instructive, in a strange sort of way. Apparently, there are large numbers of young Europeans who honestly believe that American citizens must shop at Wal-Mart twice a week in order to vote in presidential elections and that the United States Army is not doing enough to secure the borders here against Indian attacks. I am not sure where these young people get such nonsensical ideas—I suspect that one of the brothers has been making up stories again—but they believe these things with every fiber of their beings, in spite of my trying to tell them otherwise, and I think it might not be such a bad thing for Americans to realize that real live foreigners regard our beloved land, from sea to shining sea, from alabaster cities’ gleam to purple mountains’ majesty right on down to our fruited plains, as one vast emporium where almost anything they want can be bought dirt cheap. It’s a bit disheartening to suggest that we might go to some nearby historic site, just to do something a little out of the ordinary, and all these people want to know is if there’s a mall nearby. It is equally disheartening to know that the taxpayers of the Irish Republic, who are paying for this extended raid upon our Chinese made American goods and services, are also actually paying some of my cousins to be asthmatics.

As a result of my two decades in the library profession, I am more than a little familiar with that outstanding reference work, the Occupational Outlook Handbook, which the U.S. Department of Labor publishes every two years or so to outstanding reviews, except for the deconstructionist critics, who think the work smacks too much of 19th century Russian realism, you know, Tolstoy and all that sort of thing. I have been through that work from the beginning of Volume I to the end of Volume II, and I know, with a fair degree of probability, that asthmatic is not one of the career choices listed. If I looked really hard, I think I could probably find a couple of interesting lines of work like aardvark acupuncturist or celebrity celery salesman, but asthmatic? I don’t think there’s a job listing for that. As a general rule the United States government does not pay people to be sick. There are some exceptions to this rule, of course. The government will pay a person a pension if that person is disabled or in some other way unable to work, but I think we can all see the difference between supporting someone who cannot work because of a disease or disability and actually paying that person to have the disease. In this our Great Republic we do not pay people to be sick; we encourage them to get better quickly, preferably with their own money.

I could not get any of the visiting vultures to see just how unfair this situation is to America’s ailing, most of whom are actually sick and had to stay home from work, as opposed to traipsing all over the countryside of the Vampire State looking for the stray mall to buy out. For foreign governments to finance shopping raids on American malls for people who really aren’t feeling that poorly deprives America’s ill of those goods and services and makes it impossible for our sick to compete on the global unwellness market. Sick Americans deserve better than to have commercial outlets push them to the back of the line in order to serve the not so wretched refuse of someone else’s teeming shore. This sort of attitude puts a considerable strain on my deeply held beliefs about free trade and there are just times when I want to raise the tariffs on foreign diseases a good two or three hundred percent—at times like these no one should be driving a German measle around, anyway, not when there are American measles getting laid off every day of the week. Yes sir, raise them tariffs; that'll show them that Uncle Sam’s no sap, you bet it will.

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