Posted in animals, dogs, Election, Politics

No, No, No, and No

Photo Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

One day, I threw some slightly stale bread into the yard for the birds that love to forage there. Within minutes after I got up the back porch stairs, and into the house, a critter, much like the one in the photo above, its cheeks stuffed with as much of the bread as it could gather, was on my porch scratching at the back storm door.

I rapped gently on the glass, hoping to scare it off, but it wasn’t fazed. It lifted onto its haunches, begging for more.

At that time, our Sheltie-Cocker-Beagle mix was queen of the yard, and went after squirrels with a ferocity that never failed to surprise, as she was affectionate to a fault with all humans. As soon as she caught sight of the critter, though, her predatory instincts went into action, and she started to bark. That ended the squirrel’s greedy campaign.

***

I stopped signing petitions in 2016, after I realized none of them accomplished anything, except providing the host organization with enough data on me to become a pest.

Despite checking all the “No emails” in my email settings, repeatedly, I should add, and unsubscribing to future emails, also repeatedly, the requests for more signatures and donations kept pouring in.

That’s when I marked all of them as Spam, and let my email software do the rest.

This year, conditions being as they are, my husband and I decided to give additional support to our favorite charities and candidates.

That’s when this happened.

Phone: Ring, ring.

Me: Hello?

Male: Hello, is this Barbara?

Me: Who is this?

Male: I’m with ****, and I’m calling because as you know, we need your help more than ever. So, could we count on you for a monthly pledge of $1,000?

Me: I’m sorry, but I gave what I could give. So, no.

Male: But (prepared blather…).

Me: I said, no. I wish I could help, but I can’t.

Male: I hate to be persistent, but…

Me: (Interrupting) This is a difficult time. There’s a pandemic. Everyone is hurting.

Male: I realize that.

Me: Then you should also realize there’s a limit to how much people can give.

Male: (Blather blather blather, gimme gimme gimme, shameless attempts at emotional manipulation…)

Me: (channeling my mother) Listen, honey, I know you need funds. That’s why we gave you as much as we did. But now, rather than showing respect for that generosity, you’re badgering me, and addressing me by my first name when you don’t even know me, an assumption of familiarity I find frankly insulting and offensive.

Male: But…

Me: NO. ENOUGH. All I want to hear from you at this point is, Thank you for your support, Ma’am.

Male: (hesitating, a few seconds, then) Thank you for your support.

Me. Ma’am. Say it.

Male: Ma’am.

Me: Thank you for calling. You have a nice day now.

***

Sometimes, the only way to deal with troublesome critters is to bark at them.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

Posted in history, human nature, Irony, poetry, Politics

Provenance

“Picture of Dorian Gray” by Ivan Le Lorraine Albright,

His car belonged to a Nazi.
Not a would be,
Or wannabe,
Or could have been,
Or clone,
But a Nazi high in rank,
A name you’d know,
And I forgot
The minute he smiled and said it.

He keeps it under wraps in his garage
To shield it from harsh winters,
Hungry salt;
But brings it out when sunlight burns
Each Independence Day,
To drive in the parade.
Crowds wave and sweat,
And he waves back,
Honking,
Drowned out by marching bands.

Afterward, he parks it by his house,
And beams as neighbor’s children
Ooh and ah,
And beg to climb inside.
He doesn’t balk, but
Makes them wash their hands
Of sticky cream,
And cheesy dust,
With disinfectant wipes.
He is insistent on this step,
Of course,
To keep the car pristine,
Interior unstained—
As if it could.

©2019 All Rights Reserved

Posted in human nature, Mothers, Politics

Uncommon

Screen Shot 2018-02-10 at 2.17.51 PM

The man in the suit was middle-aged, unremarkable.

I was walking toward the entrance of an office building.

~ ~ ~

I was raised to be well-mannered, say, please, thank you, Sir, Ma’am, at the appropriate times. It’s important to know this up front, as important as it is to know that I could also snap sweetly if the situation called for it, always with a smile.

My mother was an expert at this. As one who had an unwavering sense of herself as Somebody (and, Lord knows, she had reason to feel that way given all the challenges she’d faced and overcome), she did not tolerate disrespect from anyone, and could slice offenders to ribbons with the utterance of one word: Dear. Always with a smile on her face. Always with a stony glare.

She wasn’t the only woman of her generation who had this skill. I watched others — relatives, friends’ mothers, teachers, and more — wield the same epithet with as much precision as my mother, always with the same smile and fearsome eye.

~ ~ ~

I didn’t see the man until I reached the building’s front door. Then, suddenly, he was there, inches from me.

Because of the way I was brought up, I moved aside and opened the door for him.

I didn’t expect him to pause, except, perhaps, to say, “Thank you,” but he did. “What are you?” He sneered. “One of those feminists?”

“Just being polite, Sir.” I smiled. “Would you rather I let the door slam in your face?”

He reddened and stormed into the building alone, while I waited outside until an elevator carried him away.

~ ~ ~

I’m not in favor of ad hominem attacks or cheap shots, and will not use them, as my mother refrained from using them. She found such attacks disgusting and beneath her dignity, and, as far as I’m concerned, she was right: they accomplish nothing, prove nothing but the witlessness of the attacker. However, she would have agreed, when the commonest of courtesies are perceived as a type of political statement deserving of vocal ridicule, there is cause for a pointed retort.

Always with a smile, of course.

© 2018 All Rights Reserved