Table' d Hote: Tea Party TV
Don't watch much television, but I was given a set given years ago by a well-intentioned ex to help me grow more in tune with the political and materialistic ways of pre-Great Recession mainstream America.
A 13-inch Sony, rabbit ear antenna Trinitron. It's on the blink now, but I am loathe to toss it, because - I have to be careful how I phrase this - it's not what you'd call an ordinary television.
Think John Cheever's “The Enormous Radio.” This little Sony has a mind of its own. It doesn't broadcast when you turn it on, or kick it or beg it. It comes on when it feels like it, goes off when it wants, and displays what it pleases.
The other night, 3:43 a.m., I stumbled somnambulist-like into the front room where the set sits. I bumped into the pool table, stubbed my toe. “Freakin' Newt,” I yelled, and before my eyes the little set grew bright.
I can't say what the TV does when I am away from home, but it had been silent and dark since Barrack Obama's election. Which was fine. Don't need Fox News to know the way the wind blows on that one.
“Go away,” I implored the set. “I've given up on politics. Just want to live my life in peace. Don't care 'bout elephants, donkeys or tea bags.”
The Sony, however, had no intention of signing off. A ghostly, talking head-newscaster wearing a red fox pin in the lapel of a black sport coat, looking as if he were about to cry, frowned at the camera.
“In a stunning economic development,” he said, “senate members of the Liberal Green Tea Party and the Conservative Black Tea Party have united to pass a “Big Mall Bailout Bill”.
The announcer blew his nose and explained that the “Big Mall Bailout” was an emergency measure adopted in hopes of slowing relentless drops in consumer spending that were shaking the economy and government to its core.
“Everyone hoped that the summer “Big Box Bailout”, which saved a handful of Wal-Marts from certain collapse, would have done more to get consumers off their butts and into stores,” he said. “But no-o-o-o. Today's wimpy consumers don't buy anything except toothpaste, aspirin, macaroni and cheese. How can you save the economy like that? I'm not holding my breath on a mall bailout bill. Certainly not one concocted by a watered down Tea Party split into liberal and conservative factions. And who knows what's in this 2,456-page bill anyway? I ask any senator on either Tea Party to tell me: Does this bill cover indoor malls, or just outdoor malls, or both, or one this month and the other next month, or a big box today and a big mall tomorrow?”
The announcer was getting pretty worked up. Drool dripped from the sides of his mouth and dangerously close to the $125 triple-tweaked silk Italian necktie around his neck. “Watch the tie, “ I muttered, but too late. Drool pool on the silk.
“Who needs a tie these days?” the announcer growled, ripping the neckpiece off and throwing it at the camera. “Just remember, no matter how bad the economy gets, no matter if the Republican and Democrat parties have disintegrated and relinquished the country to the Tea Party, no matter that this network lost 40 percent of its advertisers last month because Tea Partiers can't make up their mind how to bring the economy back, it doesn't matter. I still have enough ties in my closet to wrap Rush's fortress.”
The little Sony went black, faded up on a single camera shot of four small macaroni and cheese boxes. The announcer said: “This week , at supermarkets across America, get four boxes of “Go America” macaroni and cheese for just $25. You heard right. Just $6.25 for the small box if you buy four. Hurry in. Supplies limited. Cheese not available in some areas. Restrictions apply.”
Even half asleep, I deduced that the little set was teasing me. No way the country could be so messed up since I had gone to sleep. Macaroni and cheese six bucks a box, no more Democrat or Republican politicians to kick around. And a split-down-the-middle Tea Party running the country?
Maybe the Sony was trying to predict the future. Tell it to your hairdresser you poltergeist box of wires and spyware.
I'm going back to bed.