This is a really, really bad time to be a neurotic.
I skid from the Internet to the TV and back. No bailout! We’re doomed! The market is crashing!
The Democrats blame the Republicans, the Republicans blame Pelosi, and Sarah Palin, chaperoned by some old guy to protect her from Katie Couric, blames “gotcha” journalism. Somebody, I think morosely, staring at the TV, the beehive, the blankly moronic gaze through the glasses, is going to have to do something about Palin’s accent. The word “grating” only begins to convey how truly awful it is. Pass the Pepto-Bismol and splash it on the rocks. Make it a double, baby. I’m in pain.
My husband comes home. He wants to watch some stupid football game. A football game — when the end is near and the election is cresting. “What do you care about Baltimore and Pittsburgh?” I ask him crankily. “The whole world is crashing down.” He pretends he doesn’t hear me.
I go back to the Internet. I can access our so-called stock portfolio there. But, oh, no. I’m too smart for that. I’m ignoring it. This seems to be working quite well. I don’t like seeing all those red numbers and percentage points. It’s too much of a downer. If a portfolio crashes and no one looks at it, then did it really happen? I am metaphysical. I will think about higher matters. Like Bristol Palin’s wedding.
Finally, my husband changes the channel after some big-deal overtime field goal. We’re back to the financial crisis. Ben Stein, the wonky conservative, and Paul Krugman, the liberal academic, agree that the bailout has to go forward. Larry King nods gravely. I stare at the TV and wonder whether Larry King is still married. How many wives has he had? Five? Six? 700 billion?
I would fall asleep on the couch, but I’m too revved up. I have to hear Sarah Palin’s latest gaffe. I have to hear the experts argue about the economy, the election. Last week, Paul Begala referred to the Current Occupant of the White House as a “highly functioning moron.” No one — not even the nearby Republican flack — blinked. Who would argue about something like that?
Well, Sarah Palin doesn’t blink, either. No, sirree, she’s ready and willing and able to serve, she tells Katie Couric. The old guy next to her tries to look as if he’s not falling asleep. If he’s listening to her at all, though, he’s probably too scared to sleep. Maybe he’s telling himself: If I don’t die in office, everything will be all right. Or, the North Vietnamese should have used this woman’s voice as a torture device. I would have cracked even sooner. Or, is Joe Lieberman still available?
We call it a night. My husband falls asleep instantly. I try to read, but keep staring off into the distance. Ever since I read about Racing Mind Syndrome, I realized I have it. It kicks in after a long, hard day of micro-managing economic doom and the presidential race. I think about our portfolio, Sarah Palin, the idiot Republicans who are claiming Nancy Pelosi hurt their feelings. I think about alternative plans for our future: 1) turn our house into a boardinghouse; 2) change our whole yard into a self-sustaining garden; 3) never, ever retire; 4) start clipping coupons; 5) buy a bicycle and ride it everywhere.
I finally pass out. I dream that Bristol Palin is getting married next week. The groom is Larry King. Turns out, he was available again.
(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)