Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Undecided? About what?

Wouldn’t you just hate to be in line at the cafeteria behind “undecided voter”?

He just can’t decide.

Not me. I’ll have the liver and onions with a side of rice and gravy and that funky broccoli salad with the raisins in it.

Before we go down the dark and judgy path in which I have to defend my love of butter-fried organ meats, let’s get back to my theory, which is: Undecided voters are most likely undecided about everything.

It must be paralyzing, this inability to stop kicking the tires and just get on with it. Oddly, in an election year, undecided voter is courted and cajoled by candidates like he or she is some kind of shaman. I’m not sure why we should reward undecided voter just for being the type of person who would hover over the festive red, green and blue gelatin cubes for a full minute while the rest of us roll our eyes in line behind him.

If the server asks undecided voter if he’d like extra whipped “topping” we could all be here for days.

I dunno. Should I? I mean, there’s arguments for and against…

While the cafeteria analogy is a bit on the nose, I think you get my point: Undecided voter doesn’t save this particular quirk for political elections. It’s a character trait. And every four years, it becomes not just an annoying tick to relatives and friends and strangers in line, but instead a popular, highly sought after “demographic.”

I have to admit undecided voter has always left me decidedly puzzled but never more so than this election.

I think journalists tasked with interviewing them have shown admirable restraint not to just look into the eyes of “still undecided Phil from Akron, Ohio” and say, “Damn, Phil, do you just eat a big bowl of stupid for breakfast every morning?”

Even this year, when there is a HISTORICALLY CLEAR CHOICE, undecided voter remains cagey until the very last satellite truck leaves Catgut, Georgia, its occupants still unable to wrench an answer to the most softball of questions.

How to explain Millie from Pennsylvania’s “It’s just a really hard decision” adding this irksome postscript: “There are good things and bad things about both candidates.” Arrrrgh.

How can I help you, Millie? Phil? What’s it gonna take to get you in that voting booth to-day?

To the many millions of us who have already voted, the notion there is anything left to discuss is crazy as a soup sandwich. Either you believe “Q” and think Donald Trump was sent to personally save us from a cabal of pedophile-loving Democrat bigwigs who snatch children using a system of tunnels under various pizza restaurants or…you are sane.

In a normal election year, undecided voter’s antics wouldn’t be so  aneurysm inducing. You’re not “weighing the issues.” You just like the attention thinking maybe Lester Holt will chat you up at the Eggs Up Diner one snowy dark morning. Just get the sausage biscuit already.

Celia Rivenbark recommends “Cuckoo” for your next binge.

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: A not-so-grim fairy tale

Once upon a time, in the borough of Queens, N.Y., there lived a troll named Trumpelstiltskin. He was prone to fits of pique, kicking his tiny, bone-spurred feet into the dust when angered.

Using his outsized personality and bravado, Trumpelstiltskin became legendary in the borough of Queens, less so in neighboring Manhattan, which vexed him bigly.

One day, he encountered a blonde woman, call her Marla, who had been locked in a dungeon after her father, drunk on mead, bragged to the king of Queens his daughter could spin straw into gold.

“I was really speaking metaphorically,” Marla’s dad said later. “Who knew the king was so literal? Also, totally giving up mead.”

Trumpelstiltskin got wind of this deal and snuck into the dungeon where he offered to spin straw into gold in exchange for Marla’s necklace.

“Duh, if you can spin gold, why don’t you just buy your own necklace?” she thought but didn’t say because fairy tale.

Trumpelstiltskin hired many construction workers to replace the stacks of hay with fake gold from a nearby condo he was building. When they asked to be paid, he laughed.

“Sue me,” said Trumpelstiltskin. “Instead of paying you money, please enjoy these delicious steaks which are just a little bit beyond their expiration date.”

The king, a simpleton who was easily duped, was delighted with the “gold” in his dungeon and ordered the fair Marla to make him some more.

“Whoa. It’s just never enough for you people, is it?” she muttered under her breath.

After the king left, Trumpelstiltskin said, “I like your ring. Gimme that for another roomful of (snicker) gold.”

Cheating contractors made it harder to find workers but Trumpelstiltskin lured a few with promises of overnight degrees from a “college” he owned out by the interstate.

The next day, fresh out of baubles to trade for “gold,” Marla offered to give Trumpelstiltskin her firstborn child. The king, while dim, was going to propose, she just knew it.

“We’ll name her Ivanka if it’s a girl!” he said.

“I was thinking maybe Tiffany,” said the fair maiden.

“Blech,” said Trumpelstiltskin.

And it came to pass, the maiden married the king, had a child and the troll came around to collect.

“No deal! You can’t separate a mother from her child!”

“Watch me. By the way, get rid of the baby weight. You’re more of a four these days.”

“Your hair looks like butterscotch pudding flung from a fan,” she replied icily.

Trumpelstiltskin decided to make her a deal, artfully: She could keep her baby if she could guess his weird name.

That night, she snuck across the Queensborough Bridge, following him to a seriously gaudy apartment where she watched him preen before a mirror and sing: “The queen will never win the game, for Trumpelstiltskin is my name!”

What were the odds? The next day, Queen Marla correctly guessed his name and Trumpelstiltskin was escorted out of the castle in defeat. And everyone lived happily ever after.

Celia Rivenbark finds the spectre of four more years Grimm indeed.

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: All eyes turn to southeastern NC

Big news, y’all. “The New York Times” just named the 10 counties in the United States that will decide the outcome of the presidential election and I live in one of them!

It’s like being a pageant finalist! There are 3,007 counties in this country and here in New Hanover County, N.C., we’ve blown right by Miss Congeniality and gone straight to the part involving opera “sanging” and pithy statements about world peace.

David Wasserman writes in the “Times,” these bellwether counties in battleground states hold the key to the vote, concluding “Their votes will matter a lot.” Which means more than yours. Ha! Where’s my dang evening gown?

Sadly, my fellow citizens seem less excited than irritated about being in the national spotlight perhaps because of the mostly hateful ads coming in quick succession on TV, radio, our phones and social media. I can barely watch Kellyanne Conway drop an F bomb on her admittedly bratty teenage daughter over on Twitter without a pop-up opinion poll.

It’s usually pretty easy to tell which candidate has commissioned these polls.

“Hey, Celia! Do you support Joe Biden even though he plans to defund the police and melt all their guns down to create a statue of Rachel Maddow?”

If not for Covid, there’s no doubt I would open my fridge one morning to find Joe Biden crouched inside, flashing those snowy choppers as he thoughtfully extends Half and Half for my coffee.

Trump was here for a campaign stop at our local battleship memorial, the USS North Carolina. I hung sheets on my clothesline while a black helicopter hovered overhead for nearly an hour. As in directly overhead, low and unmoving, over my clothesline. Huh.

Here in New Hanover County, we have a population of 234,473 folks living in a geographically tiny county bordered by the river and the ocean. As the “Times” noted, we are—up to now—best known as the home of Michael Jordan and a flourishing film/TV industry. (The “Times” generously left out the part where the industry left town because Republicans passed an exceedingly cruel and stupid “bathroom bill” targeted at transgender folk.)

The article cheekily describes New Hanover County as the state’s “swingiest” county.

Here in the South, we’d say “swingingnest” but whatever. If you doubt my county’s ability to go blue for president for the first time since 1976 (dammit), the “Times” reminds readers Whole Foods opened a store here in 2012.

Apparently one of the leading predictors of how a county leans politically is proximity to a vegan hot bar. Whatever that is. The tone was admittedly a tad smug. As if to say: “We know you think they’re just hicks, but they are hicks who understand the importance of criminally overpriced hamburger meat and a slice-your-own soap kiosk.”

If our county goes blue, we will accept bouquets and say “you’re welcome” to a grateful nation. If not, well, there’s always Miss Canada.

Celia Rivenbark’s oven, hot water heater, car A.C. and DVR all died this week. Oh, 2020, you saucy imp.

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: If there’s another presidential debate…

With all the social media memes comparing last week’s presidential night’s debate to an unruly kindergarten classroom, I decided to text my favorite kindergarten teacher to see if that was an accurate assessment

“Well, they didn’t throw poo,” said the Princess from her apartment across the state.

Yes, well. That’s something I suppose. Maybe they’re saving that for the (shudder, likker drink) next debate, which may or may not ever happen owing to Trump’s unfortunate Covid diagnosis.

As we watched and texted across the miles, social media lit up with schoolyard references. Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” tweeted: “Chris Wallace’s debate performance tonight is a great reminder that kindergarten teachers are underpaid.”

So true.

But, how much was it REALLY like kindergarten, I pressed the Princess.

“Oh, it’s just like it,” she said. Talking over each other, whining about how the other was mistreating them to the teacher (moderator), refusing to share by hogging the other’s designated time; lying, bullying (Trump) and telling the other to “shut up” (Biden)—are common violations of kindergarten classroom order.

“Telling someone to shut up is forbidden,” the Princess said gravely. “If you don’t apologize you could lose your turn as line leader.”

Do what?

Line leader, it turns out, is a position of great honor and responsibility in which you get to lead the class into the library or the lunchroom or playground.

“But if you really want to punish them,” she said, “you don’t let them have any time on the tablet. Screen time is what they love best.”

Like spending the day not reading or sharing or playing with others but instead tweeting and watching Fox News, I supposed.

The Princess pointed out even the moderator demonstrated a teacher trick in which you try to calm the most unruly kindergartner with what amounts to bribery.

“I don’t like to bribe but sometimes it’s all you can do,” she said, citing the moment a flummoxed Chris Wallace teasingly promised Trump he’d really like the next couple of questions so he’d stop screaming and trying to dunk Biden’s head in the toilet.

“I had to use old Halloween candy to get a kid to stop yelling,” the Princess said. “Chris Wallace needs some fun-size Snickers…”

It wasn’t hard to picture Trump as the oversized bully who trips you and steals your lunch money right outside the cafeteria.

Stealing is a very serious offense in kindergarten and would be dealt with swiftly and firmly. Say, for instance, you stole from another kid’s cubby and that cubby was the U.S. Treasury, well…you might end up in the principal’s office. And you might be suspended!

The kindergarten analogy was accurate then?

“Oh, totally,” she said, adding that an even more accurate comparison would be the reunion episodes of the Real Housewives of New York, especially when Dorinda and Ramona butt heads.

“So, you’re saying Andy Cohen would’ve been better equipped to moderate the debate?”

“Oh, 100 percent,” she responded. “They won’t respect you if you show weakness and Andy never shows weakness. He’s the only one who can get them to stop screaming and listen.”

It’s worth a shot. But he better bring some ratty Starbursts just in case.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Award-winning TV show is a welcome distraction from a dreadful year

Watching “Schitt’s Creek” sweep the Emmys recently, I realized the biggest appeal of this astonishingly heartfelt comedy isn’t just the brilliant writing and casting. “Schitt’s Creek” is a balm during these exhausting days when we are walking around looking like disgruntled pelicans, as the show’s Moira Rose might say.

Each day brings a new assault to decency and morality and democracy as we know it. A single week brought us 200,000 dead of the virus; new revelations that Trump knew exactly how deadly it would be in time to save thousands of lives; the death of the incomparable RBG while hypocritical Republican vultures circle overhead; and a hurricane season that had to resort to Greek letters for only the second time ever.

Is it any wonder so many of us have found a little peace and calm in the fictional town of Schitt’s Creek? Or that we’ve watched all six seasons again. And again. For many of us, the most affirming and  inclusive place on earth right now is on Netflix.

We crave the unrelenting kindness of the quirky townspeople and, most especially, the riches-to-rags Rose family.

Emmys for best writing, best directing, best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, best comedy… Would this have happened in a year in which we weren’t experiencing a pandemic, a corrupt and sadistic liar in the White House and a climate that warns us daily, “I tried to tell you…”?

Probably not.

The temperature is hot. Words are quick and angry. A fellow shopper in Costco saw my Biden T-shirt and said he should give me his MAGA hat before pronouncing Joe Biden a “demented old fool.”

I bought the $9.99 mums because they are huge and beautiful and they make me smile.

I was seated beside a woman recently who carped about having to wear a mask because “we all know the day after the election the virus will disappear.”

I’ve heard this a lot and it’s always from The Others. And what I want to ask, but don’t because I have learned the meaning of the word “cult,” is: Isn’t your guy in charge? Is he sitting on the cure? If so, why aren’t you mad about that?

In any bitterly contested election, one candidate will say something so outrageous, it would, in the words of Anne Lamott, make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.

Trump has said so many, I picture my risen Lord polishing off the airplane bottles in the minibar and looking longingly at the Nyquil.

Is it any wonder I can’t sleep until I’ve watched a couple of episodes of “Schitt’s Creek” in the dark on my Fire tablet? If you haven’t watched the show, now’s the time. It starts a little slow, but your patience will be rewarded by Season 3 when you realize this is the way all of us should treat one another. Now go forth and (inside joke) fold in the cheese!

Ninety-three percent of the racial-justice protests this summer were non-violent. Settle down.

Read more Celia Rivenbark at celiarivenbark.com.