White Lady

Another incident that occurred as a result of my recent high-hair fashion involved a group of young girls waiting for the T at Park Street station.  They were intrigued by our costumes and asked each of what we were, and pointed and laughed with us.

When one girl asked me “What are you?”, I confidently replied, “White Lightning”.

“What?”

“White Light-en-ing,” I said again, emphasizing each syllable with a a zigzag in front of my lighting bolt shirt.

“White lady?!?”

Her friends burst out laughing at this, and so did we.  The poor girl was so embarrassed that she had to run away and apologize from afar.  I tried to tell her it was fine, but it was hard to say between my huge guffaws.

I didn’t really feel embarrassed about the situation.  I am, in fact, white.  And as the sun has only recently decided to warm up the planet again, I’m really, really pale.  My legs glow.  So someone calling me ‘white lady’ is just being honest.  Since I look younger than I am, even the ‘lady’ part isn’t bad.  I’d rather be called ‘lady’ or ‘ma’am’ than 14 years old.  Still, the girl felt like it was a mortal insult.

There are cases, however, when people might feel ashamed of their skin tones, or the very visible actions of their countrymen.  I recently read The Map of Love, in which a widower from England, Anna Winterbourne, discovers for herself the ‘true Egypt’ of the early 1900s.  Through love and friendship, Anna eventually becomes a strong advocate for Egyptian nationalism.  She feels responsible for the actions of the British towards Egypt, no matter how little she is able to influence events as an individual.  She feels guilty, not for who she is, but for the unseeing eyes of her countrymen in the face of loud international cries for equality and basic rights.

The chorus today is the same – people want peace, justice, and freedom.  Can we, as a nation, give it to them?  Can we help them to find it for themselves?  Do we, as individuals, have th right or responsibility to help, or is all of our interference negative?  Take a student’s, James Karl Buck’s, documentation of protests and other events recently in Egypt.  He was only documenting the situation, and was arrested for it.  Though he was able to send information to others on his status and conditions via Twitter, and eventually secure his release, the same was not true for his Egyptian translator, Mohammed Maree.  The U.S. citizen gets out fine, and as a result is possibly endangering the life of an Egyptian one.  I am sure that if Mohammed were here, however, he would make the choice to help, even though risking his personal freedom.  I doubt, however, that James feels any less guilty about his freedom because of it.

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My daddo’s the punster, not me.

They say we all grow up to be our parents, whether due to genetics or exposure through our earliest development stages. In regards to my dad’s sense of humor, it’s a battle I’ve been fighting for a long time.

He’s the kind of guy who liked jokes with punchlines like “Brad cannot live on manna alone” or “You can’t have your kayak and heat it, too”. The longer and more elaborate the the joke, the better. And, like all true punsters, he would embellish his true masterpieces a little bit more with each telling. My sisters and I found this hideously annoying. The jokes weren’t funny, and sitting through each buildup seemed more and more tedious and lengthy. It got so that if he asked someone if they knew the one about the man and the talking frog, we would shout them down – yes, yes, a thousand times, yes!

In retaliation, I created the napkin joke. It involves describing a fancy-pants napkin – lace, embroidery, fabric descriptions, its life history and experiences – anything to make it more boring and long. There’s no punchline. Really, there’s not even an ending. You just describe the napkin, in all its pointless boringness. It’s just like my dad’s pointless, boring jokes. Haha. My dad, of course, thought it was hi-LAR-iously funny.

Recently however, I find myself slowly but surely drawn towards his type of humor. I find myself enjoying the panda joke (A panda eats shoots and leaves vs. A panda eats, shoots, and leaves). True, this is grammar humor, so it’s a little classy, kinda. But it’s also dangerously punny. What am I becoming? How do I stop myself?

I read this article about an old penguin and his suit and wanted to comment about it. A penguin in a wetsuit, how cute! However, I was stumped at the title. I kept coming up with these horrible titles, like ‘Jackass gets new suit’. I know it’s a tic of inheritance from my dad. Sigh. I guess I’m doomed to questionable humor. It’s in my DNA.

Free money?

With recent announcements of an early release of economic stimulus checks, I’ve been considering how to ‘spend’ mine.  There were early rumors that these payments are only temporary (i.e., you have to give the money back next year), but I have not been able to find anything to that effect on the IRS website.  In fact, their FAQ mentions that no income tax will be owed on these payments next year.  In addition, for those who were not eligible for the full amount due to their 2007 tax return, there may be an additional payment made after the 2008 return is filed.  So to teh best of my knowledge, this is free money.

And I should spend it, right?  The whole idea is to stimulate economic growth, to give a little boost to the general stream of the economy.  Like Dolly Levi says, “Money, pardon the expression, is like manure. It’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around, encouraging young things to grow.”  And I do believe that.  But getting an economic stimulus check is kinda like winning the lottery.  Ok, it’s a pretty small amount to win, but if you just spend it, are you realizing its value?  Shouldn’t you be investing that little nugget o’ cash alongside other nuggets, so they can be fruitful and multiply?  And doesn’t that investment also boost the economy, probably right where it need the influx of cash most – in the financial industry?

Finally, is this whole economic stimulus plan really well-considered?  Geoff Colvin thinks it’s a case of too little, too late.  The economy will keep sinking, rather than waiting for the federal government to play catch-up.  He also comments that all this tax talk doesn’t address another issue underlying our current economic pressures – the lack of Robin Hood.  The richer are getting richer; the poor, poorer, and there’s no one with a bow around to redistribute the wealth.  How do we deal with that?  A little economic boost to a certain sector of the economy isn’t really going to help.  Others consider the financial crisis to be far from over.  Are little federal boosts like this really helping, or just delaying the final bottoming-out of markets that has to occur before we can start working our way up again?