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The world is a strange and mysterious place. A place that I do not pretend to understand. Things happen for no reason. Things happen for bad reasons. Sometimes, things don't happen at all. That, in itself, is strange and mysterious.
Grandma Flora used to, when I was small, tell me that "don't care was made to care." She would tell me this when she'd ask what I wanted for dinner, and I'd say, "I don't care." Or when she'd say, "You're being a very naughty girl," and I'd say, "I don't care." Or when she'd say, "Oh, my heart! Quick, get my pills! Where's your mother?" and I'd say, "I don't care."
On these occasions, I would look at her with my scrunched-up 6-year-old face, grape jelly invariably dribbling from my chin, snot somehow finding a crusty home in my eyebrows, and a Pepperidge Farm goldfish lodged snuggly up my nose, utterly perplexed. "What does that mean?" I would ask. But she would never tell me. My mother, too, adopted this phrase. It irritated me to no end as I grew older, because I never could figure it out. This, I think, directly related to the joy my mother took in it.
I think I get it now. I think I understand. It's something along the lines of "You're crying? What are you crying about now? I'll give you something to cry about." As in: "Oh, you don't care that your brother's pissing fire? Well, I'll make you care. Mark my words. When I get through with you, you'll bloody well care." And then, y'know, I'd get spanked to within an inch of my life, until I admitted that yes, I care now. Oh, oh god, do I care. Chalk one up to good ol' fashioned tough love.
If there is a god, I think he looks at life with an approach similar to Grandma Flora. If you don't give something enough attention, by gum, he'll see to it that you have no choice in the matter. To quote Arthur Miller: "Attention must be paid." The man was married to Marilyn Monroe. He knows of whence he speaks.
Not interested in politics? Couldn't give a rat's ass about Cuba? Well, my friend, pony on up to the bar and let me buy you a round of It Depends On What The Definition of Is Is with a Miami Relatives chaser. Burnt out on computers? Never heard of Battlefield Earth? You look a bit flushed. Perhaps you've been exposed to the cruel, fickle mistress that is the I Love You virus while reading the 50th article this week about the Worst Movie Ever Made.
I guess a medium-sized country's worth of people had not been caring about Rudy Giuliani, the fair and esteemed mayor of one City of New York. How else to explain: The Cancer! The Affairs! The Separation! The Dropping Out of the Race! Do you care now, Middle America? Oh, oh yes. I think you do.
All this is leading up to a confession. I fear what I am about to reveal is solely my fault. I have not been buying the videos. I have not been reading the books. I have not been listening to the songs. I have not been watching the reruns. And so, for all my not doing, not noticing, and yes, my not caring, the world has been cursed with a fate so foul it has never been equaled and shall never be surpassed.
To wit: Last week, I went to work very late. During my morning rituals, I found myself transfixed to the Rosie O'Donnell Show. This was bad, yes, but it would get far, far worse. Rosie's guests were two blond, bubbly young girls. They were on to promote their new movie; new book; new exercise video. I don't really know. I didn't hear a word they said. My eyes were glued to the set, and the ringing in my ears was deafening.
The Olsen Twins have developed breast buds.
The center cannot hold.
Anne Sussman has not fallen off the vomit wagon in months.