Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Wake me when this nightmare is over

“I love to sleep…it’s my favorite.”—Famous Oval Office visitor and presidential aspirant Kanye West

If you doubt things are getting more stressful in the nation’s capital, consider this country mouse saw her very first “nap studio” during a recent visit to Washington, D.C.

Located just a short walk from the beleaguered White House and constipated Congress was a lovely spa-like storefront offering a variety of opportunities to come in and, well, sleep. Goodnight gloom.

For just $9, the city’s stressed-out bureaucrats can pop in for a “non-guided power nap.” Or, as Duh Hubby likes to call it “Sunday afternoon.”

If you think that’s too much to pay to go to sleep in the middle of the day when vodka’s always done the trick before, you’re not wrong. For bargain hunters there are – and I am not making this up – “nap packages” you can purchase that bring the price down a bit. For just $828 a year, the stressed-out staffers who work on Capitol Hill can buy “unlimited naps” and even some classes on meditation.

After a tough week of draping doilies over anything that says “McCain,” who could begrudge a weary wonk some lavender-scented shut eye in peaceful, overpriced surroundings?

For the ultra-frugal (tourists like me) there is also a drop-in, 20-minute self-guided “meditation” option for the low, low price of $5. For this paltry sum, you can “relax in a beautifully curated private meditation space.” Or you could just sit on a bench outside for free and enjoy some excellent busker saxophone playing but where’s the beautiful curation in that? Don’t be a hick.

While the $5 option seemed to be the rock-bottom to gain entry, there was a sidewalk huckster vibe that made me wonder if there might be an even cheaper offering, much like the sweet ol’ thing I encountered in San Francisco who hollered to passers-by: “I’ll let you slap me for a dollar!”

True story: In my rapid-eye-movement deep sleep, I’ve fantasized it was Sean Hannity doing the hollerin’ and I was waving dollar bills at him just like a used car salesman at the hot wing lunch buffet at the strip club. Oh. Like you’ve never had that fantasy.

There are even workplace packages so you can make napping a team-building exercise for employees. Only in D.C., amiright? The thing you used to think was borderline shameful, closing the door and lowering the blinds while you snoozed briefly beneath your weighted blanket from Bed, Bath & Beyond is now officially sanctioned workplace behavior in Washington.

Celia Rivenbark

Insomniac? Not to worry. At D.C.’s napping mecca, a staff of “expert instructors” can help you with the whole “close your eyes and go to sleep thing” that seems so elusive when you’ve spent a day dismantling the Constitution. How much fun would it be to find myself in the curated meditation space right beside a dozing Mitch McConnell or Lindsay Graham! Would they wake up with oversized freckles and moustaches drawn with permanent marker? A girl can dream…

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Trump follows NC’s loathsome lead toward trans community

Lately, I’ve been pondering what it means to be a North Carolinian. As in Tar Heel born (in a doctor’s office, no less), Tar Heel bred (never lived more than 37 miles from home, just like Jesus) and, yes, like the song says, when I die, I’ll be Tar Heel dead.

Speaking of which, in North Carolina, if you’re even remotely a big shot, you’ll be awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, but you pretty much have to be at death’s door so it’s one of those honors you aren’t sure you want.

Governor’s office: Look here! You’ve been named to the Order of the Long Leaf Pine!

Most people: How long do I have, doc?

North Carolinians can recall an astonishing amount of state trivia thanks to seventh grade history class. State bird: cardinal; state dog: Plott Hound; state mayo: Duke’s (OK, I made that up, but it should be); state motto: Esse Quam Videri (“to be rather than to seem.”)

How lofty this Latin phrase that celebrates being your authentic self, give or take an oppressive, commerce-crushing, dehumanizing transgender-targeted bathroom bill or two.

Historians say Esse Quam Videri was adopted because of its power to call attention to how not nearly so many people want actually to BE possessed of virtue as to APPEAR to be possessed of it.

I adore that shade was being thrown at phonies as far back as 1775 here in North Carolina. This insistence on being true to self was so important it was put on the newly crafted state seal!

So, what happened to that laudable sentiment and does this mean we should rethink the whole Plott Hound thing, too? Esse Quam Videri seems worlds away in meaning and intent from the current mindset of the North Carolina General Assembly.

Usually, I don’t get wrought up about state politics, preferring to save my energy for the national stuff because, well, a girl can only have so many hissy fits in a single day, but the two have merged in a most distasteful way this week as we learn of Trump’s latest takedown of the transgender community.

Over the holiday weekend, Trump showed his enduring respect for the many transgender troops who have served in the military by taking steps to undo an Obama reg that made it illegal for health care workers and insurers to discriminate against transgender patients.

Trump & Co. explained you can’t make somebody do anything to violate their private religious or moral beliefs. Soooo, if you cut your foot in an oyster bed and your preferred pronoun is “they” you don’t get a tetanus shot, just a double dose of fire-baptized judgment.

Celia Rivenbark

But, wait! That’s not all. Trump also proposed a rule last week allowing homeless shelters that receive any federal money to deny services to transgender people.

What’s Latin for “petty and cruel”?

North Carolina started this mess. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could clean it up? Let’s be, rather than seem to be human beings.

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

Commentary

(Painful) weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: The minority rules on abortion rights

Nearly 75 percent of Americans—men and women—say they don’t want Roe v. Wade overturned.

So how did we get here? How did we get to this place where Chinese factories are working overtime to make those white-bonneted, blood-red “handmaid” costumes for protesters to wear to rallies?

Usually if a law of the land is approved by nearly three-fourths of the American people for nearly a half century, it’s hard to imagine it being successfully dismantled by—and I mean this in the nicest possible way—the cruel, uneducated, snake-handling lunatic fringe.

But that’s how we got here. Politicians using Roe v. Wade as an emotional gut punch.

Nearly 75 percent don’t want this to happen, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Let that sink in. That’s a higher percentage than you’d get in any office setting on whether Cindy in Human Resource’s cake should be vanilla or chocolate frosting.

Interestingly, it’s the same percentage of Americans who believe in physician-assisted suicide and a little less than the percentage (83) who believe they should be able to get a prescription for medical marijuana from their own doctor. The percentage of Americans who want to leave Roe v. Wade alone is exactly the same as the percentage who think immigrants make our country better (!) and the percentage of NRA members who support background checks before any firearms purchase. (!!)

Nearly three quarters of the nation thinks Roe v. Wade isn’t broke and are wondering why it needs fixing.

This statistic should be enough to silence the, and, once again, I mean this in the nicest possible way, opportunistic, self-serving pond scum-sucking bottom-feeders in Congress who wouldn’t know a uterus from a U-haul or dystopia from dysentery.

While some resist the image of the protesting Handmaids, I don’t think it’s that far off the mark. We’re hurtling toward the cliff so is it any surprise so many of us are reacting by robing up and joking about how we’ll soon be known as “Of (our husband’s first name)”? It’s gallows humor, whistling by a graveyard where the headstones read: Here Lies Reproductive Rights. Here Lies A World Where A Woman and Her Doctor Make Decisions About Her Own Body Without Inviting Mitch McConnell to Sit In. Here Lies Affordable Family Planning, Cancer Screenings and Protection from Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Here Lies the Ability to End a Pregnancy That Resulted from Rape and Incest. Even if You are 12 Years Old. Here Lies Saving the Life of the Mother.

Celia Rivenbark

It should be noted that President Trump doesn’t even like those last two, which proves a broken clock is right twice a day AND a blind squirrel does, in fact, find a nut now and again.

Asked if he’d had any personal experience with abortion, Trump famously responded: “What an odd question to ask” and moved on. At last we agree. It’s no one’s business. Especially, and I say this in the nicest possible way, mildewy old men with broken prostates and dreams.

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: A memo to flummoxed conservative pundits about AOC

Celia Rivenbark

Although I almost hate to write this out loud, it’s time to tell “the others” the truth: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is just messin’ with you.

I hate to tell you because it’s hilarious when y’all get all high horsey about how “dumb as a box of hammers” the freshman from New York’s 14th Congressional District is because you honestly believe she is terrified of her own garbage disposal.

I mean, hell, you’ve had a garbage disposal ever since you were just a wee angry conservative incapable of recognizing irony and humor in its most hilarious form. What’s her problem?

I repeat: She’s messin’ with you. I imagine she got the idea after y’all went ape doodoo about a video showing her dancing at a party when she was a student at Boston University. Not nekkid dancing, just dancing. Somehow, this moment of utter normalcy threatened y’all down to the bitter marrow in your crackling bones.

Sorry, not sorry.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is having a moment. And, every now and then, it’s just for fun.

The now-famous Snapchat of her over-the-top horror at the ghostly growls coming from the garbage disposal in her new D.C. apartment wasn’t real. But it was real funny.

Unfortunately, as we all know by now, “nothing is more curious than the almost savage hostility that humor excites in those who lack it.”

I have that George Saintsbury quote wood-burned on a plaque in my office and I need to read it and breathe deeply at least eleventy times a day.

Yes. I know there’s no such word as eleventy. Stand down.

The conservative pundits, bless their tortured, tangled hearts (thanks Dixie Chicks) didn’t get the joke and were off and runnin’ like the gun show had just set up shop over at the National Guard Armory.

Cue NRA misplaced outrage.

The humor-impaired, irony-resistant strain of conservative is particularly annoying because, let’s be honest, their default is a cocktail of fearmongering and pious outrage. Humor? That’s a plot by the Hollywood elite and anyone who has ever done a juice cleanse.

They are ALL the preacher in “Footloose” (before he sees the light). The very worst motives are assigned to progressives. At one point, Fox & Friends were “thiiiiissss close” to saying AOC would have to pry their garbage disposals from their cold, dead hands.

AOC’s insistence on breathing in and out every day is enough to incite hate among the far right. But now, this! This mocking of a purely optional appliance (which was outlawed in New York for many years) whose sole job is to grind leftovers to bits, why…it’s un-American!

But there’s no lightness in the hearts of AOC’s loudest critics. Perhaps they should give her the old witch test: Bake a cake with rye flour and the urine of her enemies, feed it to a dog and if the dog dies, she’s a witch. Look for that recipe and many more in the Barefoot Contessa’s next cookbook: “Jeffrey’s Favorite Quiches & Spells.”

That was a joke.

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

Commentary

Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: Why is it OK to hate teachers?

I was reading the comments attached to a news story about public school teachers staging a rally in my home state of North Carolina (“Come for the No. 34 ranking in nationwide teacher pay; stay for the barbecue”) when it hit me: People really are idiots.

Not all of y’all. But I gotta give a shout-out to the laboratory-quality dumbbell who wrote—and I am not making this up—“Teachers is paid enough. If they want more money, they should have went to school for something else.”

Yes. And maybe he should’ve went to school a little longer. Or at all.

You know those bumper stickers that say: “If you can read this, thank a teacher”? Yeah, I haven’t seen one in ages either.

Of all the groups I would’ve considered safe from snark and, worse, vilification, it would be teachers.

Admittedly, I have a dog in this fight. As the daughter of a public school teacher and the mother of a newly minted one who has signed on to work in a high-poverty school for the next two years, yeah, I have to say this shift in the national conversation is a head-scratcher at best and a head-in-the-oven at worst.

I don’t get this even a little bit. If “Should’ve went” was the lone voice, I wouldn’t pay much attention. It’s like how people ignore the guy in every small town who walks around in chaps with a skunk on a leash but no! It’s now OK, even trendy, to hate on teachers.

TEACHERS.

The comments piled on, taking up “Should’ve went”’s rallying cry.

“Must be nice to have summers off.”

“Why do they complain? They stop work at 3 o’clock. A real job would kill them.”

“They don’t teach anymore; they’re just glorified babysitters.”

Anyone who knows a teacher knows the high horse manure content of those statements.

I know that lately, as a nation, we’ve gotten cranky. Politics has us divided, angry, frustrated. I used to be a cheerful sort, ask anyone. OK, maybe not the U-scan attendant at the grocery store BECAUSE IT NEVER WORKS but anyone else.

But our general American dyspepsia (ask a teacher, I mean, if you can pull her off the bar stool at 3:30 every afternoon. Oh, wait. I meant find him at his SECOND JOB) has now reached into areas that used to be undisputed, sacrosanct even.

We suck.

There’s just no gentler way to describe the national slide into hatefulness focused, astonishingly, on what could arguably be called “the least of these.” Teachers aren’t rich, they aren’t famous. But they are, to borrow a term from social media, true influencers. It took some doing but raging against teachers is a thing now. A lowdown, dirty, deplorable thing.

We hear a lot about saving the babies. Until they show up at kindergarten with 40 others and one valiant teacher who just spent half her first paycheck to make the classroom functional. Some of you don’t care about that at all. Fortunately, teachers do.

Celia Rivenbark

Celia Rivenbark is a New York Times-bestselling author and columnist. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.