“A FINE MESS YOU GOT US INTO THIS TIME, STANLEY” (1/19/21)
When I was a kid I used to love movies with two old-time comedians, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
Or, as we called them in Brooklyn, “Fat and Skinny.”
They were hopeless, and no matter how hard they tried, by the end of the movie they were over their heads in trouble.
That’s when Oliver would scream, “A fine mess you got us into this time, Stanley.”
I thought of them when I started writing about Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
This country is in a mess and it’s clear that many believe this mess is all the fault of Donald Trump.
But how did this start?
So let me go back to a column I wrote on this day exactly four years ago, when a very nervous country was awaiting the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Four years ago I wrote:
“Barack Obama is among the most talented campaigners we have ever seen. But as president, he failed in a manner and on a scale that damaged his party, undermined faith in the institutions of government and left the nation more riven than he found it. All this helped create the conditions that allowed a cynical demagogue to rise up and succeed him.
In many ways Barack Obama and Donald Trump could not be more different. Mr. Obama is equable and graceful; Mr. Trump is erratic and graceless. Yet one cannot make sense of the incoming presidency without understanding the failures of the outgoing one.”
Now, as we all await the inauguration of Joe Biden, there are over 60 million Americans (a good number of who voted for Barack Obama when he first ran 12 years ago) who would still rather continue with that unmitigated disaster Donald Trump for four more years.
Blame the media, blame the internet, blame social media, blame what you will – this is a horribly divided country.
I pray that Joe Biden turns out to be a great president.
I pray that Joe Biden turns out to be at least half as great as the New York Times will report he is every day of his administration for the next four years.
I pray that those idiots who invaded the Capitol are put away in jail.
I pray that Donald Trump slinks away and is never heard from or taken seriously again.
I pray that we don’t resort to censorship of social media sites. They are private companies and the way to stop or change them in a capitalist society is to replace them with other private social network companies that tell both sides of the story.
But most of all I pray that every American takes this time to heed the words of that great street-corner philosopher Rodney King:
CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG.
Note: I don’t want to leave you with my syrupy thoughts, so what follows is something that will give you a laugh.
This was sent to me by my good friend Dennis Holt:
This is very cute & entertaining!!!
These were questions posed to children age 10 and under. Thought you might enjoy something that brings laughter amidst all the recent negative news...enjoy!
1. HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY?
No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.
-Kristen, age 10
2. WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
-Camille, age 10
3. HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
-Derrick, age 8
4. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
Both don’t want any more kids.
-Lori, age 8
5. WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
-Martin, age 10
6. WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
When they’re rich.
-Pam, age 9
7. IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
-Anita, age 9
8. HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED?
There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn’t there?
-Kelvin, age 8
And my favorite is…
9. HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck.
-Ricky, age 9
And here’s something I found in an old column that made me laugh on this dismal day.
This reminds me of a happier memory of when I used to call my mom, which I did every day. It was a wonderful nightmare that I miss.
It was in the early “Can you hear me now?” days of cell phones, and reception was terrible. This was heightened by the fact that both my mother and father were at a susceptible age so when they approached a ringing phone it was as though it were a time bomb, and lifting the receiver would either dismantle it or cause it to explode.
My mom couldn’t hear all that well and I found myself screaming into my new cell phone and having comic conversations with a partially deaf 89-year-old lady.
“Hello [crackle] M-o[static]-m!” I would say.
“WHO IS IT?” she would scream.
“It’s [static] me, [static] erry,” I would answer.
“[static] erry...[crackle] erry, your son, [static] erry.”
“I HAVE NO SON NAMED HARRY.”
“Not [static] Harry,” I would say.
“NOTARY? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?”
“It’s me [crackle], Mom, Jerry, [static] your [static] son.”
“JERRY WANTS TO HAVE FUN? WHO’S STOPPING HIM?”
“Not [static] fun, son...son...[static] son.”
“SON? JERRY WANTS TO HAVE A SON? HE HAS TWO SONS. WHO ARE YOU?”
“It’s me, [static] Jerry [crackle].”
“WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT? WHAT’S WRONG?”
“NOTH...[static] ING!” I would scream in a panic. And then the phone would go dead. I would stare at the dead phone. Then call her back fast before she fainted from fright.
God, I so miss her.
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