DAILY BRIEFINGFastelavn Bastards
Feb. 26 - Earlier this week I spoke blithely of the costumed young Fastelavn jinglers as "Little Extortionists." (If you don't remember, look here.) According to locals news, the DMG tells me, these little extortionists are now the least of one's problems on Fastelavn.
On this past Fastelavn Sunday, the DMG's grandmother answered her doorbell expecting to find a couple of adorable little extortionists standing outside the door to her apartment. Instead, she found herself face-to-face with a young man of about eighteen or nineteen.
"Hello," he said.
"Hello," she said.
"I would like to sing you a song," he said.
"No, thank you," she said. She was uncomfortable. The young man just stood and stared at her.
"Yes, I will sing you a song," he said.
"No, I don't want to hear a song. I don't know you."
"Okay, but may I have a glass of water?"
"You want a glass of water?"
The DMG's grandmother thought this was a strange request, but Fastelavn can be a strange day, and perhaps—this is my own speculation here, not the DMG's—perhaps she felt it wouldn't be very Christian to turn a man away from her door when all he wanted was a little water. Remember, she'd been handing out coins to little kids all day.
So she went to the kitchen, poured him a glass of water, and brought it out to him. He drank it and thanked her.
"Now I would like a hug," he said.
"No," she said, "you're crazy, I don't know you, why would I hug a stranger? You got your water, now go."
And so the stranger turned away from her and began making his way down the stairs of the apartment building.
"See you next Fastelavn!" he called back to her. She shut her door and locked it.
Not long afterwards she realized the young man had stolen her purse while she'd been pouring his glass of water.
* * *
The same type of scam was perpetrated all over Copenhagen this past weekend. The DMG tells me that her grandmother was even featured, without being named, in a television news story on the Fastelavn crime wave.
I feel horribly about having made fun of the holiday, respectful as my irreverence may have been. I have this awful feeling that some drug-addled Dane may have stumbled onto my website and thought, "Extortion? What the hell is that? Maybe it's like robbery? This moron guy is on to something!"
No I don't. Not really. People are wretched enough without needing any outside assistance.
More's the pity.
* * *
Yesterday I was doing my usual morning rounds of the news and I came across a National Geographic article about the vikings. I became incensed and spent over an hour working my rage into a little essay that I posted over on the blog.
The DMG called and asked what I'd been doing.
"Wasting my morning on a pointless diatribe about the vikings," I told her. "Complete waste of time. I'm over it, though, and I'm going to get much more productive now."
Then I resumed my news browsing and read the president's statement on same-sex marriage. That cost me another hour or two of fulmination, the bitter fruits of which can also be seen on the blog
As you probably don't need to be reminded, cogent political analysis isn't my strong suit. I do better making fun of things than trying to understand them. But the whole gay marriage thing strikes me as almost surreal. While I was writing this, for example, a regular reader sent me an uncredited article that included the following line: "as people began to take stock of the implications of granting special treatment to one group of citizens, the need for a federal marriage amendment has become increasingly clear."
Granting a marriage license is "special treatment?" Woo-hoo! I've been married twice—how special am I?
Okay, let's do this the usual way: anecdotally.
One day in my high school sociology class our teacher started talking about color-blindness. He told us to open our textbooks to such-and-such a page and look at the pictures. I wasn't a very attentive student, but I rarely passed up an opportunity to look at a picture.
The pictures were just multicolored globs on the page—one was mostly greens and yellows, if I remember, and the other was mostly red, pink, and purple.
Our teacher said that, hard as it was to believe, colorblind people looking at those pictures would only see blobs of color. I laughed out loud.
"As opposed to what?" I asked, "The Mona frickin' Lisa?" I thought I'd been very witty. I waited for the laughter that was my oxygen. It didn't come.
The teacher hardly even reacted. "As opposed," he said, "to what the rest of us see."
I looked around the classroom, perplexed, and noticed that everyone was looking at me. I usually enjoyed that kind of attention, but this was different.
My pride and shame were immediately overwhelmed by my hypochondria.
"What do we see?" I asked nervously.
The girl sitting next to me pointed to the middle of one of the blobs. "The big figure eight," she said, "right there."
I saw nothing but a psychedelic mess.
"Or the big four," she added, moving her finger to the other picture. "Right there."
I held the book in front of my eyes, held it out at arm's length, squinted, shut one eye, blinked, winked, stared, did everything I could to try to see those numbers, all in vain. The lecture went on without me as I spent the rest of the class trying to see something that everyone around me had seen as plain as day, but which had been completely invisible to me.
That, my friends, is exactly how I feel about this whole gay marriage thing. I'm trying and trying and trying to understand how so many people that I know and respect can oppose the idea of dudes marrying dudes or chicks marrying chicks, but I just can't see it. I read and hear their arguments and still don't get it. It's like they're pointing at one of those kaleidoscopic blobs and saying, "Don't you see the big eight? It's right there! How can you miss it?"
It's actually kind of traumatic.
Maybe I can sue someone...
* * *
One of the guys at yesterday's poker night had been drinking since two in the afternoon. He kept drinking all through the game, which ended at around midnight. Out of respect to his staggering capacity, I followed him out to a bar after the game broke up. We drank until about two.
Way to prep for fatherhood!
The DMG, meanwhile, had a quiet night in—until the phone rang at about ten o'clock. One of her best friends had just given birth to a little girl. She called my cell phone to share the news with me.
"How does she feel?" I asked.
"Baffled!" she replied. "She's like, 'Oh my God, there's this little thing crawling all over my boobs!' It's so weird!" It's obviously been a while since she's been on a high school date.
Almost all of the DMG's friends here are, or recently have been, pregnant. I used to think it was something in the Danish water, but that was naive. It's obviously something in the Danish women—
* * *
On this date in 1936, the Japanese Army mistook Japan for a foreign country and conquered it. This disrupted the Japanese automotive industry, giving Adolf Hitler the opportunity to preside over the official opening of the first Volkswagen factory. (The good people at Volkswagen seem to overlook this anniversary every year.)
The Moron's Index
Bean Counter: 14 weeks + 6 days
Days as a (Mostly) Non-Smoker: 11
Homosexuals I've Married: 0
Lesbians that Broke My Heart by Not Being Straight: 2
Hetero Weddings at Which I've Stood Up: 5
...that Haven't Ended in Divorce: 1
Dagens Ord (The Word of the Day)
RÝveri. Robbery. And a robber is a rÝver.
* * *
Michael Bolton turns 51 today. He shares his birthday with fellow musicians Johnny Cash (1932) and Fats Domino (1928), as well as Tony Randall (1920), Jackie Gleason (1916), William "Fred Mertz" Frawley (1887), William "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846), Levi "I'm About More Than Pants" Strauss (1829), and Victor Hugo (1802).
It's Flag Day in Antigua and Barbuda, Independence Day in the Dominican Republic, and Republic Day in Western Sahara.
© 2004, The Moron's Almanac