Today my father finally has an all-female axis of evil. It wasn't clear to me for a while whom Hillary had displaced. She is in half of the email jokes he forwards me from his marine and salesman buddies. Inevitably the slam is that she is fat, has big thighs or a broad ass. Like that's a bad thing!
At first I thought maybe Hillary had knocked Jane Fonda off the list. Jane is kind of out of it, revealed by time as just a celebrity after all, no Joan Baez let alone Mata Hari.
Her parentage probably juiced up the symbolic irony of her aid and comfort to the enemy. Her golden father. Her degenerate brother. Like a first family, the Fondas played out the generational epoch like a sacrificial goat agony on display for the entire community gathered in the amphitheatre to purge the demons and get on with agriculture and power politics and sex.
But she sold exercise vids, got plastic surgery, married Ted Turner and did the tomahawk chop for the Braves. Now Turner is another bête noir for the right, a multimillionnaire daffy liberal, one of Friedman's superempowered individuals like Soros interested in playing against the grain. But you never hear about him in my house.
So Jane Fonda is old news, though in my youth her name came up more often than the hereditary monster of my clan, Oliver Cromwell. There's a funny story about that, a game of charades where I telepathical guessed Oliver Cromwell a millisecond after my dad stood up to act out his famous person. It was a watershed moment. He was crushed. Am I so predictable he asked? No one had to answer that.
There were similar moments of me baiting him about his repetitive Jane Fonda outbursts after that litany got tired for me. Streisand seemed to always lurk there for occasional use, I suspect because her jewishness, her large nose, her voice (both her undeniable singing skill and her New York accent), and of course her outspokenness. She did not know her place, as an entertainer and a woman, and this galls him.
Streisand has never more been popular in this regard, with her recent visibility in Democratic party politics. Both my dad and I could share a laugh about John McCain's hilarious "sings the music of Barbra Streisand" on SNL. So she's still in it.
A couple of those email forwards came this morning. I scrolled down through the layers of untrimmed forward headers, spotted the words "Jane Fonda" and "traitor" and didn't bother to read the message. So I guess Jane's still got it as a bogeyman, which leads to the unavoidable conclusion.
Oliver Cromwell is off the A-list.
Jack got the idea for the first character from an AP release about a Florida family that set the world record for the largest ball of tape.
What kind of person, he thought, goes to the trouble of putting together the worlds largest ball of tape? And what kind of person encourages their kids to join in this pursuit, as if it were some sort of estimable worthwhile accomplishment? And how do those kids end up? Are they scarred for life, or was this colossal humiliation somehow trumped by the usual traumas of adolescence?
He bounced the idea off of Richard over the phone. Richard wasnt in love with it.
Try, for just a minute, he said, that familiar tone creeping into his voice, to imagine that you grew up in suburban America. I know its a stretch for you, Jack, but I want you to make an effort. This one time. Just for me.
Im not sure I follow.
Have you even considered the possibility, Richard wearily continued, that maybe, just maybe, the kids enjoyed putting together the ball of tape? That setting a world record might have been a positive event in their lives? That the day the reporter showed up on the front doorstep was the making of a great childhood memory?
God, that would be pathetic.
Richard sighed. You know what? Nevermind. Run with it. Well clean it up later.