It’s the Economy, Cupid – Outlook Valley Sun

First published in the July 28 print issue of Outlook Valley Sunshine.

So much that I still want to do…
Visit Fenway. Finish my law degree. Have season tickets to something – anything – the Dodgers, Disney Hall, a struggling drive-in in the dusty part of town.
I want to fight alongside French soldiers in a big, winnable war, preferably against the Krauts. I want to play poker with the first lady of Monaco. I want some stupidly quilted golf pants to wear to fancy weddings.
You see, when you’re a peasant like me, your dreams are your private jet, your cozy schooner. Your dreams are your revenge against the landed nobility.
The world is attacking peasants right now. The other day it was so cold at the supermarket you could have made your own icebergs. It makes no sense, this incredible thrill – the cost, the general discomfort, the frostbite.
While looking for a pair of woolen socks, I notice whole watermelons for $7. I also note how they cut a $7 watermelon into eight wedges and sold each wedge for $5. That’s capitalism, a 570% markup on a melon. Don’t tell me that inflation is related to pipeline problems. Inflation, right now, is mostly greed.
I’m about to sell off all my shoes and all my decoder rings, my Butkus jersey, my crazy friends. Guys like me can’t outsmart inflation. Prayers do you no good. Inflation is insidious – the incurable case of an economy‘s hiccups.
Worse still, inflation drives up the price of all our ideals. Do you remember the 70s – Earth Day, Earth shoes – when we were so ready to fix the planet and then realized we couldn’t afford it? “Wait, will that cost money?” we swallowed. “How about we just recycle a bunch of beer cans and all that?
You see, kids, short-term needs always come first. Pizza costs money. Love triumphs over ozone. It’s the economy, Cupid.
Our ideals briefly returned in 2020, and then inflation, like a dragon, licked them again.

The supermarket cut a $7 watermelon into eight wedges and sold each wedge for $5. That’s capitalism right there.

I know what you’re thinking. “No one mixes metaphors better than you, sir. And don’t say “lick” so much. Ewwwwwwwwwwww.”
For the record, I shake my metaphors, with ice. You should see what I can do with a martini glass and two Bombay jigs, some salted olives. I’m sure you’ll find it all very licky.
In the meantime, I still want to do so much…
I want to hitchhike to Maine in mid-October, buy Suzanne a fuzzy sweater the color of pumpkin pies.
I want to win a Super Bowl. Learn a job. Trade trinkets for dirt.
I have all these amazing restaurant concepts – Bag-O’-Burgers, Trombone Kabobs – but not the energy or the start-up capital. Not even paperclips.
Once the trombone skewers make a splash, I want to buy a house for someone who really needs it. I want to hand out $100 bills to wide-eyed kids on Christmas Eve.
I want to fix this guy I know with this girl I just met, so maybe they’ll live happily ever after, which hardly happens anymore, but when it does, it’s glorious… better than a million one-night stands, better than kissing Audrey Hepburn on the lips.
The only love that is still close? Dogs.
Speaking of which, I was scolding White Fang the other day for stomping on neighbors’ trash cans, something she does almost mindlessly on our walks, almost a nervous tic. When she hears about drought, she thinks, “Drought? What drought? I have a lot of piddle here for everyone. To move back!”
No matter.
Anyway, White Fang was stomping on other people’s property, trying to deal with the drought in his own way, when I started telling him about all the plans I had for us. I tell the dog I want to restore a ’55 Chevy and drive us to Chicago for a baseball game, stopping for chili at an all-night restaurant in Moline.
“So I want to take you to Tuscany,” I tell him, “and paint our mouths with garlic.”
I tell White Fang how one day she and I will probably have puppies together.
“Puppies!” she screams.
OK, not puppies. But everything else. All that other stuff.
The thing is, being a peasant isn’t so bad. We still have our imaginary schooners, our impossible dreams… our funny friends and our hot pumpkin pies.
And kisses on the lips.

For books, past chronicles, and the prettiest gin glasses you may have ever seen, head to Email the columnist at [email protected]