Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pondering the meaning...

You know, I’m the first one to cut someone else slack for having a foot-n-mouth moment. Shoot, I do it all the time! If I had a nickel for every time something has shot out of my mouth without taking a quick spin through my “is this a socially acceptable and/or correct thing to say” filter and I’ve been left standing there thinking, “What I wouldn’t give for ‘recall’ button on that little gem…”, well, I’d be a living nightmare to be behind at the Coinstar machine.

In point of fact, it is largely why I’ve refrained from pouring my own grief, anger, shame, more anger, more grief, and other assorted explosions during the last two weeks while I watched fellow Americans degrade while waiting for help. It was fraught – fraught, I tell you! – with potential for Tama putting her Number 11s in her mouth yet again.

But Barbara…Barbara, Barbara, Barbara.

I almost know what you were trying to say. Sorta. When I squint. Let’s see, I’ve found two reports. Almost gentle, and KER-BLAM! RAT-A-TAT! AND HERE’S A ROUND FOR YER SON WHILE WE’RE AT IT! BAM BAM BAM!!.

Hmm. I think you were trying to say…uh…maybe what you meant was…er…

Oh dear. I just can’t come up with anything. Me, the master of putting a positive spin on things…and I just can’t make this anything but a really, really insensitive thing to say. “And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them”?

Being an optimist of the incurable variety, I have had the thought that maybe – just maybe! – with lots of support from Americans private and public, some of these folks might be able to use this as a springboard to a better life out of the New Orleans ghetto, eventually. Eventually. Today is horrible, tomorrow may be worse, but hope springs eternal over here, and if somebody has to go through something as horrific as Katrina – I want to believe that at least some of those people are going to rise like phoenixes from the ashes, seize hold of a new life in a more encouraging environment and flourish. It keeps me from just flat-out giving up on people, keeping all my charity in my own house and making long bacon at the endless stream of lost wanderers who seem to turn up on my doorstep with alarming frequency.

But hey, to me? Unless you are coming from, say, a dungeon somewhere in the snowy outer reaches of Slombackwardbovia, the whole evacuee situation is not, in my humblest of opinions, a step up in life for anybody. Oh, goodie, I get to leave my underprivileged urban dwelling in a New Orleans ghetto for a HUGE dorm with 23,600 “roomies” – we all smell bad due to still not being able to get a decent shower, are frightened, cashless, missing some of our family members and not sure what we’re going to do next but at least we get to eat luke-warm whatever’s-on-offer two or three times a day and hope our stuff is still where we left it whenever we have to go to the bathroom! Woo hoo! The toilet flushes!!! WHOOPEE!! Let the good times roll…in a ‘foreign’ city where y’all talk funny and are starting to rumble ominously about “those people” who are still arriving in the tens, twenties and hundreds and thousands…

And by the way – these people are keenly aware that they’re depending on others for everything. That just can’t feel good, especially when the ones you were depending on have just failed you so magnificently. How would you feel if, right now, your next meal depended on the National Guard getting around to it?

Yeah, me too.

Working out well for them? Well, better than the Superdome, anyway, I’ll give you that one.

But better than their very own homes? Better than four walls, a roof, and your own stuff arranged your own way – even if it wasn’t much? Better than being able to hop into your shower and wash when you felt dirty, or being able to lie down to sleep without listening to other people’s babies screaming all around you, or the guy next to you hacking up a lung into your ear?

Better than having control over your daily life?

Somehow…methinks, not.

Here’s your nickel, Barbara. And please – a little advance warning before you head to the Coinstar machine would be appreciated…

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