Annnnd it was three-column Monday again. If I had a Mafia nickname it would be Jimmy Three Pieces. Why do they call him that? I dunno. Maybe ‘cause he has three pieces to do. But technically two aren’t due until tomorrow. Yeah, well, that’s true, but you always hear him complain on Mondays. "Such agita, I got three pieces to do." So Jimmy Three Pieces it is until such time as he dies, you know? Your deal.

So I don’t exactly have a fourth piece in me – and part of this I can blame on the general dimuntion of botheration abroad in the world right now. My dudgeon glands are not producing. The matrix in the dudgeon glands has destabilized and I dunna know if I can reinitialize them before we hit the atmosphere, cap’n. I’m content. Which is nice. Oh, there’s news; the cabinet shakeup is interesting. Yay Condi Rice. I want her to go to Saudi Arabia, and I want her first words upon getting off the plane to be “I’ll drive.” As for the Department of Education, I’d like to see an experiment: let the position go unfilled for four years and see if it has any impact on the educational abilities of the nation’s youth. I’m guessing no one would notice if we didn’t have a Secretary of Education. Everyone just keep on doing what you’re doing, and get back to us.

Speaking of which, in a way: the woman who cut my hair the other day was from Thailand. We got to talking, as is often the case when you’re sitting in a chair with a wet head and no glasses, and a stranger is hovering around you with a sharp scissors. She came here at age 16, and knew no English. There were no ESL classes, she explained, so she learned it on her own. She was very apologetic for the quality of her English, and I assured her she spoke it better than half the natives – a fact proved a few minutes later when she said she had recently gone back to Thailand to research her ancestors, and “learn about our family genealogy.”

Her daughter was at the University of Minnesota: pre-med.

Remarkable, but the best thing perhaps is that it’s unremarkable: you walk into a hair salon, meet a stranger, and hear this tale by chance. Either she’s unique, and this was a one-in-a-million story, or it’s a fairly common example of the immigrant experience. How you answer that question depends on your view of the country, I suppose. Panglossian Polyanna that I am, I tend to think it says something good. Would you rather be dropped in America at 16 not knowing the lingo, or sent to Thailand alone in your teens unfamiliar with the local tongue? No question. I’m not saying this says EVERYTHING about America, but it explains why I am so instantly bored by those who insist that it really says nothing. By those who think the rest of the world has flaws, but we alone have sins.

Oh: one more thing. The Administration is clearing the decks for the second term. Out with the old & tired,, in with new ideas, etc. How’s about the mainstream media does the same? Burn up half the deadwood, ease the ossified elements off the stage, bring in new writers and editors and announcers and producers. If they can do it at State, they could do it at CBS.

Yes, yes, I know. The State Department is just that. But CBS is the news.

Anyway. Gnat had a friend over this morning; they played with dolls. The little guest was afraid of Jasper, who skulked around in the background awaiting the moment when their raisins were unguarded. He could, and did, wait for hours. While they played I finished a column. The mom came. Lunch. Off to school. The office. Meeting with the boss; interesting things afoot. Back to school to see again one of those moments you wished you could fix in amber: the children sitting beneath the great bare tree on a brilliant warm autumnal day, listening to a story. DADDEE! She runs over to me, arms out. Let’s all just end the world now, on this moment of pure perfection, eh? No? Well, fine: in the car. She conks. I drive far and wide for an hour listening to old radio shows, then drag her out of Lethe at the grocery store. Hewitt show, dinner, Mom home, walk the dog, write a column. Now this.

Hmm: run right up against the wall, eh? Said it all. Well, Monday nights are like that. See you tomorrow. Fresh Fence if you care.


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