Lunch with Bernard and his sister Maddie. Again, me, the human buffer.
We were eating our salads when Maddie announced, “Her daughter has a penis allergy.”
“Peanuts?” asked Bernard.
“Yes. She has a penis allergy.”
“She’ll outgrow it,” I said.
“This is serious. When she’s exposed, her breathing becomes difficult and there’s swelling. It doesn’t take much for this to happen – even if they’re just unwrapped in the same room she has a reaction.”
“That does sound severe,” Bernard said.
“I hope you’re right,” Maddie said, looking at me, “about her outgrowing this.”
“My first wife never did,” Bernard glumly announced to his salad.
“Have you seen that George Bush’s approval ratings have gone back up?” she abruptly asked.
“Well there’s a simple reason for that,” said Bernard. “The comedy writers are all on strike so now there is no one to properly report on what he’s doing.”
“They still have newscasters.”
“Yes, but it’s one thing for a newscaster to say, ‘Today American bridge players were told they could stay on the team in spite of holding up signs that said, “We did not vote for Bush.”’ It’s quite another for writers to point out that bridge players who made a protest this mild were about to be stripped of their one source of income. And that this became a big issue when they did this in China – a country we’ve criticized for human rights violations. And further, that we’re going to model freedom on the world stage by taking away someone’s job for expressing disappointment in an elected official?”
“Well, if anyone should know how to keep their mouths shut, it should be bridge players,” Maddie said indignantly.
“They did keep their mouths shut!” exclaimed Bernard. “They held up signs!”
"You'd have thought that they were trying to defect," I commented.
“Well, you shouldn’t do that in front of communists. If they think that we’re not all in this together, they’ll just exploit our weakness.”
“Weakness?” sputtered Bernard. “We let citizens express themselves and somehow that’s a weakness?”
“The world of bridge players will never again be the same,” I said.
“That’s right,” said Maddie. “It’s getting so that you can’t go anywhere without hearing about how upset people are with our president.”
“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” Bernard sighed.
“Well, I’d like to at least have lunch without hearing about why people think he’s such a Mormon.”
“No,” I said, “that would be Mitt Romney.”