Spang and I were wearing cowboy hats for some reason, getting some sweet, Eastwood-caliber lighting going on our profiles, so we made sure to use really serious, scratchy voices when we talked to each other, because we’d already agreed to be fictional today. And we were floating on an iceberg in the Arctic Ocean, our ostriches tethered next to us, and yes, they were wearing hats, too.
Spang smacked his lips and shivered and said, “Why so fictional? This is kind of distracting and my toes hurt.”
“Aliens,” I told him, and then we squinted at the sunset for a solid forty seconds, nodding. It had been exactly three and a half days since either of us had shaved.
Spang finally said, “I’m not following you. I was talking about conservatives, and how after eight years of staunchly insisting that war protesters were unpatriotic for speaking out against the President, they’re suddenly perfectly fine with talking about Barack Obama like he’s a hunchbacked busboy in a Victorian Era nut house, and throwing garbage at him, too.”
“They’re pretty comfortable with that,” I agreed. “How about when that one guy stood up and screamed ‘You lie!’ Can you imagine if a liberal Congressman did that to Bush circa 2002? Now go ahead and imagine a black liberal Congressman.”
“Pandemonium, that’s what it would be,” Spang said. “I mean, the whole thing begs the question: What exactly is Barack Obama allowed to do that doesn’t suck? I mean, can he go to the bathroom? Eat a cheeseburger? Have sex with his wife? Pet his dog? What?”
Absolutely true – it was all over Facebook. “The guy fills out a bracket and shoots a round of golf, and instantly every Johnny Conservative on Facebook is wondering why with all the trouble in the world, the President has time for anything except constant, solid, 24-hour Presidenting.”
“And then God forbid the guy should actually fly to Japan,” Spang pointed out. “First thing you’ll hear is, how much did it cost for Obama to go to Japan? Is Obama wasting your tax dollars in Japan? Did he bow too low?”
“And not just that,” I said. “All over Facebook it would then say, hey, why’s he helping Japan when we have plenty of problems over here?”
“Where’s our bailout!?”
“It’s disrespectful, plain and simple. So blatantly disrespectful that it’s hard to let it slide.”
Spang shook his head and said, “But damn it, you know – I’m trying to just ignore it, because it’s so unbelievably, irrationally, nauseatingly stupid I hate to justify it with a response. And also, I’m afraid to find out if these people I know and hang out with sometimes – are they actually the rock stupid idiots they appear to be when they talk like that? Or do they know that what they’re saying is bullshit, but they say it anyway just to carpet bomb Facebook with Obama negativity?”
“Like a digital cropduster,” I mused. “Spreading stupid on purpose, instead of just standing around with your finger up your nose, being that way. Which would be worse?”
We watched a few neon pink and blue dolphins honk at us as they leapt past us in the emerald waves. It was pretty fictional down this way, that was for sure. I said it again: “Aliens.”
“Yeah, why don’t you go ahead and finish that thought.”
“You ever read Majestic by Whitley Strieber?”
And that gave Spang a good laugh. He arched his eyebrow at me and said, “No, I’m quite sure I haven’t read any Whitley Strieber books, Tom. That’s where the gray aliens and the anal probes came from, right?”
“That’s right. But listen, the book opens up…”
“You want a buy a crystal or some beads, Tommy C.?”
“No. No, I sure don’t. Listen, this is important. The novel – and that’s what it is, a novel, in the fiction section – ”
“Like us,” Spang said proudly, patting his ostrich on the head.
“Yes, like us. The narrator is talking to someone he knows, a publisher I think, and he’s saying that he’s worried about putting his book out because it contains all this super top-secret U.S. Government alien conspiracy stuff, and he’s worried that he’ll get killed.”
“Yes, naturally. So the guy says to him, hey, just write it as fiction. That way if they kill you, then they legitimize the fiction. They’ll be the opposite of motivated to kill you. And if they leave you alone, then they can continue denying everything and point out that your book is in the fiction section.”
“So he tells you in the first chapter of his fictional novel that he’s only calling it fiction so he won’t get killed.”
“Right. So you can choose to believe he’s telling the truth. But you can’t argue with him, because he’s writing fiction. This is from 2002 by the way.”
“Ah ha. And that’s the problem with these asinine attacks on the President – the reaction is all that they need. It’s very clear that both historically and recently, the President is entitled to personal time, every single day. There’s always something going on that’s important, but still – he gets vacation days whether he’s a white conservative or a black Democrat. And again, when Michael Moore was criticizing Bush for playing golf and hanging out on his ranch so much post-9/11, this same exact crowd was calling Michael Moore a terrorist for it.”
“How dare he speak out against the President in a time of war!”
“Right. Now we’re in the middle of two wars, and they’re feeling free to knock his books out of his hands whenever they get the chance. I’ll be real honest with you – it makes me think it was a mistake to retire the dreaded N-word. At least in the seventies, the racists were easy to spot.”
“And I think that’s your point. Any response to these absolutely submoronic insinuations only causes a discussion about them. An argument. And just having the argument with them legitimizes the topic.”
Both the ostriches started nodding, because yes, that was my point all right, and they were pretty smart ostriches. I told him, “That’s why I thought we should meet fictionally. Because then we can express to anyone attacking the President for innocuous bullshit, that to rational adults, they sound like simpering, adolescent imbeciles, and that we would no sooner argue with them about it than we would argue with a Holocaust denier.”
Spang nodded at me and hopped up onto his ostrich. “And then if they show up to argue about it -”
“Then we just point out that we’re riding flying arctic ostriches over an ocean we’ve never seen, and if they want to argue with us while we do that, well we certainly won’t have legitimized anything will we?”
“The Reverse Bangkok Bullshit Switcharoo. Why meet absurdity with anything else?”
And so Spang and I rode off into the frigid sunset, the words “You Are Poisoning The Earth With Your Stupidity,” coming out of our ostriches butts in rainbow letters, and it was up to anyone watching us to determine if the words were meant for them.
Oh yes and then one of the ostriches farted and it sounded like either me or Spang saying, “Screw you if you don’t think the President of the United States should get to fill out a bracket, we both know you filled one out at work, on the company dime. Racist.”
But it wasn’t really either one of us saying that, it was just an ostrich farting. So don’t worry about it.
Earlier: Rein In Your Idiots, Please
And: Future Tom Blog Force: Crisis On The Internet