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The Joy of 6
I love six.

There, I’ve said it. Not only do I think that six is the most beautiful number, I genuinely care for it. And I dare to feel that six likes me back.

Six (or 6, as it likes to be called) may be matched in its attractiveness by nine, but that number projects an aggressive sexuality that I find off-putting. Others might disagree, I suppose. The eye of the beholder, especially when it’s upside down, is mysterious in its preferences.

Zero (whom no one would ever dare to address as 0) is also beautiful in its own way, but to my eye it is an aloof kind of beauty, one that does not need or want the admiration of others. It may not, in fact, even be a number at all, but I am not here to quibble about mathematics. Aesthetics is what concerns me…that, and the deep, undeniable physical attraction I feel for this lovely integer.

No, I am not thinking about having sex with 6. That is not only sick, but also dimensionally infeasible. Our bond is not about carnal knowledge. (Though I will admit to once trying to calculate 6’s cube root in my head. I got to 1.81712059 before realizing that what I was doing was wrong. I have no apologies, however, for my sweet daydreams of computing long, long, long division with 6 until there is no remainder left.) What we have, you see, is much more than the sum of its parts. It is a spiritual thing, and it cannot be reduced to mere numbers — even though one of us is one.

Now, you might be thinking, “What about other numbers? Don’t you think three is pretty hot?” Well yes, of course, but it’s not really the kind of number I want to bring home to the parents. Three is certainly worthy of love, as any number is, but I can’t imagine us in any kind of long-term relationship, mathematical or otherwise.

None of the other digits really match up that well with my needs either. Maybe I’m just a straight arrow, but two and five are just too squirrelly for my taste. They’re curvy one moment, angular the next, turning one way then the other. I need a number I can count on, something solid, and yes, safe. Number one is too self-absorbed for me to risk attachment, seven is too dangerous, four is half bent, and eight is just too much number for little old me.

No, it’s got to be 6. I want to be near to 6 and to hold it close, to cherish and protect it from the cruelty of this world. I love 6, and I know in my heart that the feeling is mutual (or at least roughly congruent).
Play It As It Lies
There is so much ugly news flying around these days, it’s easy to miss stories that would otherwise lead the news every night. In the middle of a garbage storm of this magnitude, real, important news can go unnoticed. And sometimes, perfect little vignettes of political theater can go unappreciated.

Last Friday, as the maelstrom of mendacity swirled alarmingly up and down the Capitol Mall, a lovely one-act play presented itself in the White House Rose Garden, and those lucky enough to see it witnessed the essence of this moment on the arc of the Drump presidency.

After all the obvious lying we’ve heard, after seeing that none of it seems to matter to his base, we have finally arrived at a juncture where the importance of truth is at center stage. On the one hand, we have the oath-bound word of James Comey, someone who comes across as a lifelong straight shooter, and on the other a president who seemingly lies without reason or purpose. Each calls the other a liar, we are asked to pick a winner, and our decision will have meaning.

Which brings us to the Rose Garden. There stands Drump, puffed up with manufactured outrage, deriding Comey as a perjurer and a “leaker” and a coward, while proclaiming his own honesty. Beside our president stands Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania and Drump’s co-star in this press conference.

Mr. Iohannis does not offer an opinion on the Comey testimony, but the press has other questions that do concern him. A Romanian reporter asks if the visa waiver program had been discussed during their private meeting. Without hesitation, Drump answers “We didn’t discuss this,” then defers to Mr. Iohannis for his comment. Without blinking, the Romanian president says, “I mentioned this issue, and I also mentioned it during other meetings.” He then goes on at length to elaborate on why this issue is important to him and his country.

And there you have it. In a press conference in which Drump has just declared his own unimpeachable probity, he is caught lying through his Great White Shark teeth. Effortlessly, for no good reason, just to keep in practice.

The dramatic timing of this scene is exquisite. At the very moment when the relevance of truthfulness has become central to our national politics, we are presented with a little playlet which has truth and falsehood as its theme. Better yet, the Liar-in-Chief is actually a player in the drama!

It has always been a mystery to me why people didn’t immediately detect the odor of bullshit that emanates from Donald Drump. Back in the 80s, when I first took notice of him, my very first gut reaction was that this guy is full of it. Pure con man, my radar told me then — and he is even more bloated with it now. The entire continent of Europe can smell it all the way across the Atlantic.

I am convinced that most Americans picked up those same signals, but that some of us decided to ignore their gut response. Either that, or they decided that truthfulness wasn’t that important when it comes to politics. After all, politicians as a group have a reputation for lying, so what’s the big deal if we elect a professional liar — or even a pathological one?

Klaus Iohannis is a politician, too, of course. So maybe he was the one lying about that visa waiver thing. My gut doesn’t have an opinion, but I did notice that he did not hesitate to differ with the most powerful man in the world while standing next to him in his own back yard. He spoke simply and matter-of-factly, just as James Comey had.

So who is the liar? And what is the moral of this drama? We will have to decide eventually.
Taking a Stand
Maybe I’m just a crabby tourist. That would certainly make sense, since I’m crabby when I’m home alone watching the tube.

The grievance I want to discuss, however, is about more than just my level of gruntlement. As proof, I point to the particularity of my travel crabbiness. It is never directed toward the locals, but almost always at my fellow tourists. Furthermore, it centers on just one dispepticizing offense.

Standing in the doorway. I repeat — which is what I began to do out loud after two weeks abroad — “standing in the do-o-o-orwa-a-ay.” I don’t think my growls actually registered on these folks because they were standing — utterly transfixed and oblivious to their fellow humans — in the goddam doorway.

It is only natural, when encountering some new situation, to pause and survey the scene while getting one’s bearings. Yes, perfectly natural, but so is farting. The challenge is to act naturally while also thinking of others. I even get their temporary disconnection with those around them. But that’s still no excuse. As with cutting the cheese in an elevator (natural though that may be), you should be mindful of others and for Pete’s sake (and mine) not just stand there in the doorway. Please, thank you, safe travels my friend.

Not only were those people standing in my way, they were standing in the way of everyone lined up behind me who wanted to use the doorway for its paramount purpose: moving from one space into another. It might be a good place to stop and gawk, but that usage undermines the whole door concept.

The example that still preys on my mind came at the railway station in Segovia. I don’t know if she was also farting at the same time, but that would have been consistent with her mindset: blank. The train had stopped, and many of its passengers, including me and my nemesis, wished to get off. She and her luggage were among the first to descend to the platform, and I was right behind. As her feet hit the ground, however, she seemed struck dumb. She put down her suitcases and began a slow scan of the train station.

I guess it wasn’t a classic example of standing in the doorway, but the principle was the same. She blocked the only way off the train for me and the increasingly impatient travelers behind me. It took some tricky footwork to squeeze by her, and my completely insincere “excuse me” seemed to awaken her from her reverie. She stepped slightly aside, but even then I saw no recognition from her that she had erred. Instead, she seemed offended that I dared to get ahead of her in line.

Which only made my relative gruntletude that much worse. Indeed, it chafes at me even now, and the fact that it does further exacerbates my feelings of aggrievement. She has long forgotten the boorish American who cut her off in Segovia; I seem destined to keep the memory alive indefinitely.

Maybe those are the wages of crabbiness. I guess I should accept that. No matter how just my complaint, I am forced to carry the burden of it with me — which makes me the perpetual loser and notches another victory for all my tormenters.

And that really pisses me off.
Fearless Leader
Let’s admit it. We’ve been chumped out by the French. Us, the 800-pound gorilla! By the French!

Now, I want to make clear that I have nothing against the French. They’ve saved our bacon in the past, and we’ve done the same for them. Lafayette is welcome in my home anytime, and Paris is, you know, Paris. The cooking is overrated, but the people get a bad rap. They’re good buds, but we’re #1, right? Yeah well, maybe not.

First, it was their resounding electoral rejection of the hate-activated nationalist Marine Le Pen. That was something we couldn’t quite pull off here with our own bigot-in-chief. And now, it turns out le jeune dweeb who beat back those forces of darkness is not a dweeb at all. Brand new French President Emmanuel Macron made two international superbullies both look bad in the space of a couple of days last week. First, he made our representative (that’s Drump, remember) say uncle, defeating him at his own game of alpha male grip-off while smiling sweetly for the cameras. Then he dissed Putin to his face, irking him in a way only the elite French can, by telling the truth and not backing down…again with that cheerful insistence.

Angela Merkel also got in on the fun. She had just faced down a nationalist fringe uprising in her own country, then went on to show up Drump by meeting first with Barack Obama and thoroughly enjoying his company. After that, she participated with Macron in a very sly suckering of Drump in which the new French leader seemed to head toward the Orange One and his outstretched, stubby-fingered hand, then veered off at the last moment to shake Angela’s hand and the hands of several other European leaders. Later, she delivered a we’re-on-our-own-now statement that seemed to thumb the European nose at our current president and show a united front within the EU.

As I say, chumped! France and Europe looked stronger and more solid after the NATO summit, and we (thanks to some butt-ugly bumbling by our team captain) came out a loser. If there is still a leader of the free world, it ain’t our boy, gang. Right now, that title just might go to the freshly-minted President of France (and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra) Emmanuel “the man” Macron.

Care for some freedom fries, mon amie?
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee