“Open the Pod Bay Doors, Facebook”

“Your sister is waiting for you to see her post on your timeline.”

Do I need this new personal pressure from Facebook?  They’ve already sent me an email telling me that my sister posted on my page, along with the text of her comment.  Now, they nag me if I don’t respond in their hearing within a prescribed period?  Like I need shame from a social networking site?  Like I need an automated computer program to act as my conscience?  Like I need any more obligatory stress?  Who decided that creating more social tension was good marketing?  My sister can take corrective measures if I don’t get back to her.  I don’t need Facebook stepping in like Mom, telling us to play nicely together.

Just trust us.   We know best.
Trust us.
We know what’s best.

Which we do.   She doesn’t nag, I never nag, and neither does our mother.

We O’Brien women just make Polite Suggestions for the Personal Betterment of Others.

And now, so does Facebook.  What’s next?   Will they add motivating emphasis?  “Your sister is waiting . . . you ingrate.”  “Your dry-cleaner is waiting for you to bring in that bag of dirty clothes that’s stuffed in the hall closet, you sluggard.”  “Your mechanic is waiting for you to take the car in for that long-overdue oil change, you slouch.”  “Your mother-in-law is waiting for you to accept Christ as your personal savior, you degenerate.”  “Your bathroom is waiting for you to scrub the algae out of the toilet, you slattern.”  “Your body is waiting for you to for you to lose that 15 pounds, you slob.”

It was bad enough when the share-your-status prompt changed to, “What’s on your mind?”  Facebook does not give a damn about what’s on my mind.  Nobody but me really does, when it comes right down to it.  Husband tries to take an active interest, since it’s in his best interests to do so.  Sons #1 and #2 feign interest on occasion, as does Girlfriend of Son #1 (who actually fakes it better than the blood relatives.  I appreciate this, since she’ll be choosing my nursing home one day).  Fish of Girlfriend of Son #1 takes a very active interest, since the quality of his day is inextricably linked to my state of mind (“Will she feed me?” — he can gauge my goodwill by the way the water in his bowl vibrates when I walk past).

From vibrations I pick up, there are even folks worried about what’s on my mind for fear of evisceration on this blog.  Be of good cheer, I say unto them!  We O’Brien women just make Polite Suggestions for the Personal Betterment of Others.  We never actually say what we think (although I seem to be getting better at that).

Goodwill_effectMy goodwill is at least sincere when it’s present.  Goodwill Industries International, on the other hand, has a real hypocrisy problem hitting the news.

Andrew Anderson, a 19-year-old clerk at a Florida Goodwill store, is facing a felony conviction because he gave unauthorized discounts to pitiful struggling families who came through his check-out line.  He never pocketed a dime himself, and has offered to pay back the difference between the actual prices of Goodwill goods and the prices he charged.  Andrew was not cutting deals for thrift-store bargain hunters like me, who sort through the sad shabby stacks for designer brands.  He was helping people who came into the store wearing all the clothes they owned.  He was moved by compassion.  He was filled with goodwill.

So here we are again, rummaging around in the gray areas of ethics.  Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and in between those blacks and whites are fifty shades of maybe – maybe right is sometimes wrong, and wrong is sometimes right.

Goodwill fired the boy – and rightly so.  He violated the terms of his employment.  Goodwill then filed formal charges with the local sheriff, who had him arrested for grand theft. The company is intent on pressing charges. “Our stores are not around to give a handout — they’re around to give people a hand up by providing funding,” spokeswoman Kirsten O’Donnell said. “In incidents like this, we always prosecute.”   I must grudgingly admit that I admire her ‘handout/hand up’ sally.  But a good-hearted shortsighted kid has been thrown into a major-league legal quagmire as if he had stolen from an aged ailing widow or a church.

Meanwhile, three members of a Louisiana family have indeed been arrested for stealing from a church in St. Tammany Parish  — and then selling the swag at a yard sale a block away.

When questioned by police, all three admitted that Olivia and Clariese Jones went inside the church building on Sept. 12 and took music equipment, water coolers, electronics and generators while Paul Mikell waited outside in his vehicle.

The-Stupids-Have-a-Ball-9780395361696Clariese Jones was booked on unrelated charges after sheriff’s deputies stopped the car for traffic violations, whereupon Paul and Olivia proceeded to sell several of the stolen items to make bail for Clariese.

Here’s the thing:  After Clariese was released on bail, she and Olivia went back to the church to rob it again.

I know that God in his infinite wisdom does not see fit to bless us all with the same intellectual gifts.  But how can anyone be that dumb-ass stupid?  You’d think God would be embarrassed – we’re all judged by our works, after all, and The Creation is one of his (Haydn handled it much better). These three motley fools are made in God’s image?  Do we really want to go there?

We’ll go back to Facebook.  I log dutifully on for the sake of my sister, who is suffering the stigma of public neglect at my hands.  Perhaps Facebook writes to her as well as to me:  “Your bitch of a sister obviously doesn’t care about you.  Share on your homepage if you agree!”

Here is what the God of Social Networking is waiting to impart to me from his burning bush:

“I’ve heard about but never seen until now — squashed armadillos on the Texas highways.”

My sister did not post this.  She lives in New Hampshire – they do not have armadillo problems in New Hampshire.  I could have gone many months without thinking about flattened Texan armadillos.   Many years, probably.  My remaining years, actually.  Why did someone take the time to send that remark out to the world?  Why did the world (and I) take the time to read it?  Why did 10 people add comments?  How stupid are we all becoming?

If only Mother Goose had given them guns!
If only Mother Goose had given them guns!

That’s not a rhetorical question:

Iowa is now allowing folks who are legally or completely blind to get gun permits and to carry weapons in public.  Polk County officials say they’ve issued permits to people who can’t legally drive and were unable to read or sign the application forms.

Now, I will defend the rights of the disabled with my dying breath (which I may draw sooner than anticipated if I happen to travel through Iowa).  Some of my best friends are disabled.  Really, they are.  But this is just plain stupid.  This is sell-that-stolen-church-merch-at-a-yard-sale-next-door stupid.

“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware County Sheriff John LeClere said. “But if you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.”  He may be on to something.  Even Patrick Clancy, superintendent of the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School, says that guns may be a rare exception to his philosophy that blind people can participate fully in life.  He may be on to something, too.

donkey2This is not a fuzzy gray ethical area.  This is black and white, good and bad, right and wrong.  This is common sense.  We’re not talking Pin the Tail on the Donkey, here.  We’re not playing Blind Man’s Bluff.  Maybe we need to get Facebook to start nagging Iowans:  “Tag, you’re it! We’re all waiting for you to respond to this lunacy.”

Thanks for visiting!  Missy
Thanks for visiting!

Santa, Shrapnel, and Stupidity

So I don’t remember my parents ever actually lying to me.  At least, I never caught them doing so, which amounts to the same thing.  I suffered the usual heart-rending Santa Claus disillusionment at their hands, but that was a lie perpetrated by the whole culture.  And, as lies go, that’s a good one; the world needs more kindly, fat and jolly old gentlemen whose only job is to spread joy (and presents.  Let’s face it – for a kid, it’s all about the presents.  All that goodwill-toward-men and baby-Jesus stuff is what you have to mouth to get the Easy-Bake Oven on page 257 of the big Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog that you’ve been lusting after for months).

Lust, pure and simple.
I had a white headband just like that.

Then there was what might arguably be called the lie about my beloved Grampa smiling down at me from the soft puffy white clouds of heaven.  That, too, is a comfortable social security blanket.  That, too, is an OK story to tell a child; one is not always ready at the age of 10 to face the stark realities of life and death.  Hell, I’m 55 now, and still not ready to face them.

I was the first grandchild, and the apple of the Old Man’s eye.  Grampa would show up in his big white convertible (a Pontiac, maybe?  Light blue interior, with a magnetic gold Saint Christopher medal on the dashboard) and whisk me away for a “vacation” – a pampered weekend at his house, just across the border in Vermont.  He drove really fast, or so it seemed to me, with the top down and his billowy white hair blowing in the wind.  I always felt like Cinderella.  My mother tells me I learned to work the Fairy Godmother angle pretty well, too – I’m said to have called my grandmother pleading for escape, saying “I can’t get any privatation in this house.”

I’m 55 now, and I still don’t have any privacy.  Where is my Grampa when I need him?

A Grampa is a wonderful thing.

The lie I remember my parents telling was this:  One of my grandmothers was named Inez.  The other was Pauline.  My given name, Eileen, was announced as an artful thoughtful combination of those.  Both matriarchs were honored and pleased, and I learned very early how to throw the constructive creative bull.

Even if they’d named me Paulez, I’d have turned out OK.

I have to wonder about little Messiah McCollough, though, born in Cocke County, Tennessee (No lie.  No immaculate conception involved here — just a 443 square-mile phallus).

Messiah’s unmarried parents (and don’t you be looking down your nose – the Virgin Mary got pregnant out of wedlock, too) took each other to court over his name.  Thank God! you say.  But their legal dispute was over the boy’s last name; mother and father agreed that their baby was indeed a “Messiah.”

At the hearing last month, Judge Lu Ann Ballew took issue with the Messiah (never a wise move). “The word ‘Messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ,” she explained.  She said the name would be offensive to Tennessee Christians.  She ordered that Messiah should henceforth be called “Martin McCullough,” a combination of the parents’ last names.

not_the_messiahFrom Messiah to Martin?  That’s quite a fall from grace.  That’s almost as humbling as, “Our Father, who art in heaven, Harold be thy name.”

Lu Ann Ballew blew it.  She needs to read that bible she’s bellowing about. Her blue-eyed fair-skinned American Jesus does not hold exclusive trademark rights to the word Messiah.  In Hebrew, Mashiach means Anointed One – a salvo that was rubbed generously on the egos of most of the kings in the Old Testament.

Here’s the thing:  A legal precedent has now been set.  Since the Greek translation of Mashiach is Christ™, Ballew will need to spend the rest of her distinguished career changing the names of every Christine, Christy, Christopher, Christen, and Christian in Christendom.  Fair is fair.

And stupid is stupid.  Last year, according to the Social Security Administration, more than 700 Messiahs were born in the USA.  Fourteen hundred American parents sired saviors! – and there was nary a wise man in sight.

“Labeling this child Messiah places an undue burden on him that, as a human being, he cannot fulfill,” said Ballew.  Would she say the same for little Jihad Bagour of Nimes, France, who technically could in fact live (or die) up to his name?

Jihad’s mother wound up in court after sending her three-year-old son to nursery school in a T-shirt that read, “Jihad: Born September 11– I am a bomb.”  Bouchra Bagour was found guilty of condoning a criminal act, along with her brother Zeyad, who bought the child the T-shirt.  She was fined and given a suspended jail sentence by a French court this past Friday.

“It’s just his name,” said she.  “It’s just his birthday.  The Bomb just means something is beautiful.  I didn’t think twice about it; I just thought it was funny.”

Stupid is just stupid.

Lawyers for the Mayor of Sorgues had no patience with all that justification.  “Idiocy is often the best alibi to hide our real intentions,” said Claude Avril. “The most scandalous aspect of this is the manipulation of a three year-year-old to convey the words of terrorism.”

“Dumb like a fox,” is how my Father who art back in New England puts this.  Never trust someone who blinks his eyes at you in innocent amazement, saying “Oh! But that’s not at all what I meant!” implying that you are to blame for misunderstanding.  Trust that you are being played like a violin.  Trust that you are the dumb one.  Trust that you haven been out-foxed.

Mommy Dearest
Mommy Dearest

Bouchra Bagour is also a fox in The Bomb sense of the word.  She’s got that sophisticated French sort of austere urbane beauty that intimidates the hell out of us insecure American women. As mothers go, she doesn’t have that warm fuzzy loving look.  She looks like she’d name her kid Holy War and then expect him to obediently blow himself up at the preordained time.

Jihad, like Messiah, is a word rich in meanings.  I will try to get it right so as to avoid a messy death at the hands of some offended Islamist.  Most MIRTH readers, when offended, simply unsubscribe – which does kill me, but not in a strewn-body-parts sort of way.

The “greater jihad” is the inner struggle by a believer to fulfill his religious duties. I’ll buy that – true faith is always at war with reason.  I pretended to believe in Santa with all my might that last year, to avoid hurting my parents’ feelings.  I wanted to keep the faith.  I wanted them to continue to believe that I was a nice unspoiled girl (they know better, now—but I still worry).

I'll see your Jihad T-shirt, and raise you a Monty Python.
I’ll see your Jihad T-shirt,
and raise you a Monty Python.

It’s the “lesser jihad” that is the physical struggle against the enemies of Islam.  Filling an innocent three-year-old with the shrapnel of hate and bigotry falls under this category.  I will not think the less of little Jihad if he turns from lesser struggles to greater ones.  With luck, he’ll one day be able to change his name to Martin and save himself.  With luck, he’ll sit at pleasant dinner parties with friends and say, “You think YOUR mother was bad?  Wait ‘til you hear this!”

Without luck, we’ll read about him and his strewn body parts on the front page some day.

Lucky for us, there were only 34 Jihads born in the US last year.  We’ll count on our 700 Messiahs to save us.  I like these odds.

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Thanks for visiting!

True Grit: Strippers on the Altar

So some evangelical middle-aged church ladies in righteous pastel polyester show up at a local strip joint bright and early this past Sunday morning. They are there to offer consolation prizes to the 20 or so exotic dancers who’ve been told at 2:00 AM (after working a long and tedious shift) that the club has been sold to a church.  Makes sense, really – it’s long been a place of worship, and will be again.

This is the sort of thing that gladdens God’s heart – a small sleazy seedy bar in the lonesome industrial outskirts of some two-horse town, vanquished by Jesus! I can sleep tonight knowing that His will has been done here.  What matter death and famine and flood and war and atrocity and pestilence and cruelty around the globe?  What matter the real and pressing social problems of the town itself?  The Hunt Club has been hunted down and exterminated, and a mighty fortress will be built upon its ruins.  This, God cares about.

gift bags
No Takers at the Bar

Is this a god I care about?

The strippers have returned in the harsh light of the morning of the seventh day to empty their lockers, take one last spin on the pole, and say goodbye.  The press is there to cover the clash of cultures, zeroing in on the tattoos and the cleavage and the bad grammar and the body piercings (not displayed by the church ladies, mind you, although we may imagine some discreet ink on hidden sexless body parts – a cross, perhaps, with a piercing in lieu of a nail).

The press cannot get the strippers to pose with the church ladies for a shot at digital redemption and grateful public deliverance from debauchery.  The press cannot get the strippers to take the gift bags.  The strippers have just been summarily fired; they don’t give a rat’s ass about frilly little gift bags carried by nervous do-gooders who are holding their collective breath for fear of contracting herpes or lust. 

And, oh — what gift bags!   They contain an invitation to attend a religious training seminar, information on venereal disease testing, and assorted beauty products. 

Way to reach out, good Christians!  Perhaps the gifts are in numbered order:  First, you must prove you don’t have warts or wildlife in private personal places.  Then, you’re allowed past the bouncer so you can belly up to the bar in the salvation saloon, wearing some stale lipstick the Lord likes (stock from years ago that the church’s Mary Kay rep can no longer sell but can still claim as a charitable donation tax write-off).

“Gosh, you sure are cynical,” says an old acquaintance recently.  He does not say this in a flattering way. He is offering corrective criticism, alerting me to shortcomings I no doubt have overlooked.  He does not realize that I am painfully self-aware and rather intimately acquainted with my shortcomings.  My shortcomings dance naked in front of me.  They twirl around poles and flaunt their charms.  I wear them like tattoos.


Old Acquaintance (who most definitely should be forgot) likes his women sugar-sweet and prettied up. He pretends to like church lady types, but I suspect in his heart of hearts that he longs for a reckless night with a hussy.

I suspect this because I am cynical.  “Thank you!”  I say, brightly.  “Being cynical means being brave enough to face things as they really are.”

“ . . . and love means never having to say you’re sorry,says he.

Hmmm.  What does a vapid quote from a vacant 1970 melodrama have to do with anything?  Is he being cynical, sarcastic, silly, or simply stupid?  Before I decide upon the latter, he asks if I love my husband.  He blushes when I ask if he’s gauging my fidelity.

He isn’t (trust that I am not hurt by this).  With love in the air, he is free to add beauty advice to my lesson in personal improvement.  He tells me, if not for my own sake, that I should dye my graying hair for my husband.  He says that men need their wives to look young.  He says that men start feeling old if their wives look old.  He says that wives owe their husbands dyed hair.  He implies that men are otherwise compelled by forces beyond their control to frequent topless joints. 

"That's brave talk, for a one-eyed fat man."
“Brave talk, for a one-eyed fat man.”

This is interesting logic, coming from a fat old bald man.

I tell him that my husband and my lover both find my silver hair sexy. 

In truth, it looks like hell right now.  Having been seduced by Lady Clairol last year, I’m now in the throes of leaving her.  I live in Colorado – I’m supposed to look wholesome and earthy and natural and outdoorsy.  And coloring my hair did not make me look younger.  It made me look like I colored my hair (myself, and badly, with an $8 kit, dripping dark stain all over the bathroom).  At present, I’m stuck somewhere streaky between Goth Skunk-Line and Fake Faded Brown.  One of my friends called my head “ombre” and declared it very trendy.  She was much kinder than Old Acquaintance.

Self-mortification is good for the soul, or so they tell me.

Last time there was this much righteous moral jubilation in the land, the county sheriff shut down a dangerous doughnut shop.  “Dangerous” is not an adjective one generally associates with doughnuts, unless one is discussing cholesterol levels.  This, though, was a topless doughnut shop, housed in a sagging old gas station out by the interstate.  No attempt was made to beautify the building – it relied upon the beauties within,  just as mother always counseled me to do.  For the few months Debbie Duz Donuts stayed in business, it was wildly popular.  Geraldo Rivera did Debbie.  Dallas did Debbie.  Cross-country truckers took long detours to get there.  Rowdy cowboys and construction crews vied with mild-mannered insurance agents and mortgage bankers for the chance to pay $2.25 for a cupful of coffee and an eyeful of nipple. 

Vintage T-shirt  Just $84 on eBay
Vintage T-shirt
Just $84 on eBay

The year was 1989, when 59 cents typically bought more coffee than you could drink and included tax.  On opening day, the local paper featured photos of protesters with signs that read, “Welcome to the Pit of Iniquity.”   That’s a pretty big word for a placard.  And isn’t it dens of iniquity we must beware, for fear of the pit of hell?  Yet the place was an armpit of a pit stop, so perhaps they used the word advisedly. 

Debbie ultimately sold drugs to an undercover detective under the covers, and thereafter never dunked another doughnut.

So much furious fussing over a few boobies.  Got social outrage?  Point it at bigger things.  Strip down to the basics.  Dare to bare the real problems.  Rub up against homelessness and violence and poverty and addiction and abuse and neglect and hunger and hopelessness.

But that’s so . . . messy.  I know I should befriend some out-of-work stripper and help her in tangible ways – babysit for her kids, maybe, while she goes to night school to better herself.  Help with money for groceries.  Provide reliable on-going social support she can count on.  But, really – that would inconvenience me. It would make me uncomfortable.  It would make me have to face some naked truths about how unevenly God spreads his grace (He’s a busy man.  He doesn’t have time to tuck the same tip in every G-string).

I should get my hands dirty and do something useful.  But it’s much easier to fill a dollar-store gift bag with some useless trinkets, call in the press to impress those too squeamish to do even that, and  then wash my hands of the whole affair.

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Thanks for visiting!




One Fish, Two Fish, Dead Fish, Cold Fish


You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older, and deeper in debt.

First, it was 6,000 dead pigs floating in Shanghai’s water supply.  Then, 1,000 dead ducks surfaced in the Sichuan River.  Now, hundreds of thousands of dead fish are floating in the Fu river in Wuhan, capital of the central province of Hubei.

Workers are digging trenches along 25 miles of the river in which to bury 110 tons of rotting fish.  They must do this to prevent people from eating them.  Birds who eat the dead fish die miserable poisoned deaths.  People would, too.  Peasants with little round hand-held nets are standing on the riverbank as we speak, skimming off scoopfuls of slimy dead fish.  It’s as hopeless a task as any ever faced by a peasant.

This has not been a good environmental year for China.  If only its biggest worries were those of its Japanese neighbors!  (Godzilla, rising from radioactive waters).  Instead, the Chinese are drowning in soup they can’t slurp:  Hot and Sour Pork, Duck, and now Fish Chowder – all with plenty of fermentation from kimchee and carcasses.

“Oh, I’m sick of messages from the front,” says Rufus T. Firefly.  “Don’t we ever get a message from the side?”

I'd prefer chicken noodle.
I’d prefer chicken noodle.

Asides are the meat of Mirth.  I can’t digest heavy tons of gasping polluted fish.  I stew helplessly over the world’s atrocities.  I can’t swallow savagery.  I’m poisoned by the problem of evil.  I have to find smaller fish to fry.  My hope is that small doses of hurtful things, taken with humor, will boost my immunity — allergy shots for the psyche.

Vicious little cruelties are sometimes harder to bear than major tragedies.  You’re the casualty of war, famine, or pestilence?  You understand your position.  You fall prey to some petty personal tyrant?  Cold casual heartlessness is often beyond comprehension.

To this day, I harbor deep and abiding hatred for a girl who humiliated me in high school.  She’s been dead quite awhile, now – and happy I was to hear it, by God!  No, this is not apt to go over well with Saint Peter.   But at least I don’t try to fool myself (or him) with pretensions to Christian grace and forgiveness.

Brandi Russ is a few years older than I.  She’s a cheerleader — popular, athletic, and pretty.  She swans like a goddess through the halls of the high school.   I pose no threat to the goddess.  I am young for my age, and quiet.  I wear glasses, play the violin, and get As.  I am always the last person chosen for teams in gym class (or almost the last; I rate a bit better than the unfortunate fat girls born into generational poverty who have black teeth and body odor and vacant eyes).  All might still be forgiven if I weren’t flat-chested.  I am insecure, and rightly so:  the whole Missy package means social death in my small hometown.

Really, I'm not after your letter jacket.
Really, I’m not after your letter jacket.

I am in 10th grade, stuck in a gym class full of haughty upperclassmen.  We are playing softball.  Against all odds – it is a miracle! – I whack the ball when up to bat and send it flying far into the outfield.  I run to first base, flushed with excitement.  The ball hasn’t been recovered.  I keep running.  Brandi Russ, the second baseman, suddenly hunkers down, waves her arms madly at me, and yells, “Go back!  Go back!  Go back!  Go back!”

I go back.  I know nothing about softball, but remember hearing something about X number of bases on an overthrow or some such damned thing.  I assume that the universe is just.  I assume that I am wrong. I assume that the second-baseman is right.  I assume that the second-baseman is not a mean shallow bitch out for a cheap laugh at my expense.

I am wrong, and I am out.  The second-baseman rolls about on the ground, clutching her sides and laughing.  So do all her teammates.  So does the gym teacher, who sponsors the cheerleaders and is a pal of the second-baseman.    My own teammates turn away, rolling their eyes.  Even the fat girls with black teeth scorn me (I suppose I shouldn’t begrudge them the off-chance to feel better about themselves).  It is, naturally, the third out in the last inning of a close game.  I lose my pride, and we lose the game.

Is it any wonder that I skip gym class for the rest of the semester, earning a 67% on my report card?  (an otherwise unblemished document, except for math — a story for another day).  Is it any wonder that I hate sports?  Is it any wonder that, to this day, I can’t join a fitness club?  Is it any wonder that I see Brandi Russ in every botoxed spandexed fake-tanned liposuctioned bleach-blonded-and-waxed high-fashioned jogger who passes me by?

"I didn't come here to be insulted!" "That's what YOU think."
“I didn’t come here to be insulted!”
“That’s what YOU think.”

Then there’s random cruelty for personal financial gain.  A nervous but brave 18-year-old student arrives in Chicago from China.  He has very little English.  He has worked terribly hard since he first drew breath for the opportunity to study in the United States.  He is excited and happy.  He is living his dream.  His future is at hand.

He is flagged down by a cabbie, who tells him he has missed the last train to the Urbana-Champaign university campus.  The cabbie offers to drive him there for $1,000 – a trip of 150 miles for which the going taxi rate is $300.  The boy, tired and friendless in a strange country, gets in the car and is ultimately charged $4,200 – stripped of every cent he has with him.

“It’s hard to know why this would have happened,” says Julie Misa, director of the University’s International Student and Scholar Services program.

water 3
No worries! If you’re innocent, God will perform a miracle and save you.

What a stupid-ass comment! (and badly written, to boot).  It’s not hard at all to know why.  My feisty little New Hampshire grandmother stoutly maintained that people are no damned good.  She was cheerful enough about it, but she was right.

The shame of it!  That cabbie deserves Ordeal by Water, preferably in China’s Fu River (and no, I didn’t invent that name for the occasion.  Serendipity does sometimes rule).

The witch and her daughter, below, deserve dunking, too.  They’ve been arrested for scamming more than $1 million from lonely women who thought they were having electronic love affairs with handsome servicemen abroad.  These two broads stood with little nets on online shores and scooped bushels of gulls and suckers from the sea of desolation.  They reeled in 374 victims from more than 40 countries.  Karen and Tracy Vasseur face a dozen or more years of prison time after pleading guilty to violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act.

"I love thee with all the breadth and depth and height my soul can reach."
“I love thee with all the breadth and depth and height
my soul can reach.”

The shame of it!  Imagine them cackling around the caldron, reading their impassioned love letters aloud to each other!  Deeply personal letters, outpourings of desire and hope – and money.  “This one!” waves the mother.  “She wants to take me to Paris on my next leave!”  “Ha!” says the daughter.  “This one wants to cover me with kisses!  And she can’t wait to meet my mother!”  They roll about on the ground, clutching their sides and laughing.

So perhaps it’s time to forgive Brandi Russ after all.  She ought to be ashamed, too, but she’s small fry, and she’s dead.  Time to take out my hook and practice catch and release – into that eternal Fu River.

Thanks for visiting,  Missy
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