“A” is for “Atheist"
So, I needed a haircut before going out of town. I pop by the “salon” at the local WallyWorld, and scribble my name on the clipboard. As I’m doing that, two of the “stylists” waddle over to the counter, and they are in the midst of what appears to be a rather heated dialogue.
“Why are you angry?” says one.
“Didn’t you see his earring?” says the other, jerking her chin toward a guy on his way out.
“It was a letter ‘A’. Like for atheist!”
“I just wanted to cut his ear off!”
“‘A’ means atheist? I thought it meant anarchyist, or whatev—”
“Which is just as bad, but it means atheist!”
They stop talking when they see me standing there. The athei-a-phobe (I just invented that word) sort of glares at me.
Smiling, I say: “Maybe his name is Albert.”
“You know, Occam’s Razor, and all that.”
Her face goes perfectly still as the words “Occam’s” and “Razor” ricochet around inside her skull, find nothing stable upon which to perch, and flee in search of a skull with friendlier designs on vocabulary.
“Well,” she says finally, shifting her gaze to her companion. “I don’t know.”
The other one takes up the clip board, scans the otherwise barren waiting area, and says, “Are you Richard?”
“That’s me.” I try on another smile but neither “stylist” seems to be in the mood for good-natured jocularity. The athei-a-phobe gestures toward her work station. As I make my way over I take a glance back at my new friends. They are rolling their eyes.
“We don’t wear secret symbols,” I say.
“Atheists. We don’t wear secret devices. We don’t have furtive handshakes, either. Most of us don’t even speak in a diabolic code.”
My haircut takes place in total silence. I detect additional occurrences of eye-rolling. I count myself lucky that my ears maintain their normal positions.
I mean come on! A guy walks in with a ‘A’ in his earlobe. They leap to the conclusion that he is either an anarchist or an atheist. One of them wants to mutilate his ear with scissors. And I’m the weirdo?
Reality TV was invented for these people…
The Windmills of Her Mind
About thirty miles from my little town there stands a massive wind farm. There are easily fifty or sixty of those gigantic white windmills scattered across maybe fifteen square miles of red-dirt landscape. They work constantly, too, as the wind here well and truly does come “sweeping down the plain.”
As it happens, we are also in the middle of a rather nasty drought; pretty much the only part of the country not being washed away.
I was standing in line at the liquor store the other day, and started chit-chatting with the young lady in front of me. It was hot outside; well over a hundred degrees. She made mention of that fact while hoisting a case of bad light beer onto the counter.
“We sure need rain,” she added.
“Yeah,” I said. “I haven’t lived here very long, but I understand the drought has lasted the last five or six years.”
“Yup,” she agreed. “Ever since they put in those windmills.”
I processed that for a second or two before saying, “Scuse me?”
“The windmills. They push the clouds away.”
“Ah,” I said. “OK.”
She paid for her bad beer and departed, leaving me to ponder a country whose citizens have such a small grounding in the sciences that they can’t even grasp wind.
We have one movie rental place in town. I was in there the other day, multitasking. I was perusing the new release wall while at the same time eavesdropping on a conversation between the clerk and a customer. The customer, a woman of perhaps forty, wanted recommendations, and the clerk was chock-full of ‘em, none however even came close to fulfilling the customer’s desires. Or, rather, desire, singular. Every time the clerk suggested a title, the customer wanted to know who was in it, and when told would grunt and frown, quite gasseously, and inform the clerk that such-and-such a movie star was a “liberal” and she did watch “no movies” with “liberals” in them. It was her loud opinion that Hollywood is run by liberals, and that they refuse to allow decent Republican actors to work in the movies.
The idea that conservatives are somehow shut out of the flicker shows is almost as preposterous as the old saw about a “liberally-biased media.” One thing and one thing only makes Hollywood run: MONEY. Your movies make money, you make more movies. Your movies suck, so do the offers that come your way.
As far as Republican celebrities go, exactly how badly has the Liberal Hollywood “establishment” treated, say, Clint Eastwood? Or Bruce Willis? Or Sylvester Stallone, Vince Vaughn, Adam Sandler, Joe Pesci, James Woods, James Caan, John Voight, Kurt Russell, Mel Gibson, or Gary Sinese? Sela Ward, Jessica Simpson, Patricia Heaton and Joan Rivers all work regularly. Frazier, starring noted Republican Kelsey Grammer, won 38 Emmy Awards, and earned Grammer hundreds of millions of dollars. That poor, sad s.o.b.
No, the conservatives you hear bitching the loudest about how their politics cost them acting jobs—people like Stephen Baldwin and Heather Locklear—don’t work much for a reason that have nothing to do with how they vote. They suck. And their products make suck money.
And remember, the only actual black-listing ever done in La-La-Land was done by conservatives, against liberals. It was real, and evil, and led to suicides.
I thought about mentioning all this to the customer, but she looked to be the sort who wouldn’t ever allow a few facts to get in the way of a good story, so…I rented a couple of George Clooney titles and left.
One weirdly charming thing about my little town is that it’s little enough for the paper to print the weekly crime reports. This notice appeared some little while back:
May 23rd, 2011. 12:59 a.m. 9-1-1 call.
300 block of 48th Street.
“People lighting their hats on fire.”
Shit, and people say small-town America isn’t any fun.
That’s it, folks. My final dispatch from Freakland. I’m moving in a week or two, to an actual city. It is my hope that the Freaks there will be less blatant, but given the constancy of my Freak Magnet, I fear those hopes might be, as I once heard a farmer say, about as useful as tits on a bacon rind.
In any event, wish me well, and stay tuned for more from the Wine God.