I hate when there’s nothing to do but watch television, especially when I’m feeling this way. I mean if there’s something good on, fine, but when I’m just flipping around the channels, restless and killing time until I can think of something else to do, that’s when I start hating television and the seventy-dollar a month bill that I pay just to maintain basic cable. Talk about your highway robberies. I wish that I was smart enough or industrious enough to get me one of those internet conversion boxes, or whatever they are, and just watch the television using the internet. That way I could just watch the one or two programs that I like, and not drop seventy bucks a month for channels full of shit that I can’t stand. Or maybe get a laptop or one of those iPads and just rest it on my belly, crack a beer, and catch a ballgame or two. Anything but this. This ceaseless, endless flipping through the sea of the cultural wasteland, it’s just too much for me. Watching television makes me feel like I’m downing in toxic waste.
I land on this twenty-four hour news station. Sometimes they are good for a laugh. They’re much funnier than the jerkoffs playing at fake newscasters on the Comedy Network. Of course I can never tell the channel that’s liberal from the one that’s supposedly conservative. CNN or Fox? I just like to watch the one that puts blondes in short skirts on the air. All of the sadness and misery of mankind goes down a hell of a lot smoother when there’s some broad in a miniskirt crossing her legs, giving you hope for an upskirt glimpse, and looking all serious into the camera. But either station can be funny. The Democrats and Republicans go at each other for a while, and then the pundits come on and make it worse. I can barely remember a world without the twenty-four hour news networks, without some slobbering idiot screaming into the camera about big government or little government. Something tells me the world was better before the proliferation of twenty-four hour news networks. My grandmother was alive back then, so I know that it was better.
Anyway there’s this interview on with this politician. He’s the new Speaker of the House or some shit like that. I mean I know who he is, but I just don’t feel like mulling over all the boring details about him. He’s one of those backdoor politicians, a corporate special interest jockey; one of those politicians who have lobbyists coming out of his ass when he takes a shit. But he tries to play it real. He’s always going on about how he came from nothing, and rose up through the ranks. He’s always going on about growing up working in his old man’s bar. A real red, white, and blue American, if you ask the people from his hometown. Big fucking deal. When I got old enough I worked in my old man’s bar. I worked there for years. Then my brother and I sold the thing a few months after he died, and we both bought big screen televisions with the money our mom gave us. Working in a bar doesn’t make you the stuff of true grit. It just means that you have a high tolerance for the company of bigots and assholes. Hey, maybe that’s why Mr. Politician likes to spend so much time with lobbyists.
He’s got a funny name too, like Boner, or Bone, or something like that. But he doesn’t say it that way. He calls himself Bon-er, or Bon-e, or something French that doesn’t make any sense but is probably a direct result of getting his ass reamed with insults on the playground. He plays golf with his lobbyist pals. I hate golf. I hate golf and tennis. They’re not sports. They’re recreational activities. Every once in a while I’ll go and drive golf balls with my buddies, but it’s really just an excuse to get drunk at the bar next door. We usually drink a few pitchers before sundown and then get kicked off the range because one of us geniuses starts picking up golf balls and using the club to hit them as if we were taking a round of batting practice. Shit, we haven’t done that in a while. I really should’ve called the guys instead of sitting here flipping through the channels, feeling bad about today. But I already went to the bar this afternoon, and I think I’m going to try and make it into work after all tomorrow morning. Besides I got plenty of beer here, and you have to be in the mood to want to get kicked off a driving range.
This Boner or Bon-er likes to cry. It’s like his defining characteristic or something. He’ll be on the House floor or one some talk show, or, hell, on the golf course or somewhere, and some reporter will get him going about the troops in the Middle East or his old man’s bar, and good old Boner will well up with tears and start crying. He seems to really like to cry when there’s a national audience. I swear once Boner was on the TV giving the rebuttal to the President’s budget, and the motherfucker started bawling right then and there. He was crying about the deficit. Shit, he reminded me of my mother, crying about money like that. It was like Boner set it up the whole time. Staged tears, man. I wondered if Boner was an actor or something. I wanted to look it up on Wikipedia, but my PC was in the other room, and I’m old school so I have to plug the damned thing in if I want to go on the internet. See, this is where a laptop or an iPad would come in handy.
I just sat there with a beer and watched Boner cry his eyes out like a goddamned baby. I’ll tell you, it’s strange watching a grown man cry. Women crying? That’s easy. Women cry over a well-prepared dinner or a rude comment at a family gathering. But a man crying? I guess maybe an athlete has to die or something to get a man to cry. I think some comedian said that on the Comedy Network. I hate comedians but he was probably right on that one. My old man cried when Walter Payton died. When my old man died I didn’t cry at his wake, his funeral, or nothing. I spent the whole time running around making sure my mom was okay, talking to all of my parent’s friends, and making sure shit was going smoothly with the funeral director and the people at the cemetery. My brother bawled the whole time. I couldn’t even look at him.
So I’m watching this interview with Boner and waiting for him to start crying. It’s going to come soon. I finish my beer and I get another one. I’m feeling kind of loose, you know, bored and somewhat sentimental. The reason I’m all sad and restless is because of my grandmother. It would’ve been her birthday today, and I always get a little bit maudlin on grandmother’s birthday. She practically raised my brother and me while my folks slaved at that fucking bar. She was good us when no one else gave a shit. She was a tough broad too, smoked and drank whiskey, and cursed at her neighbors a lot. It was hard to see that way that cancer just ripped the goddamned life out of her. When I think of my grandmother I always think of those last few days when she was out of it and breathing heavy, and my brother and I just stood around her like a couple of clueless assholes, waiting on the end, while my mom kept rubbing her mouth with a warm towel. I kept thinking she’d just get up out of that bed; ask us what in the hell we were all looking so sad about, and to go in the kitchen to get her a beer and the salt shaker. I hate thinking about those last days of her life. That’s why I skipped work and went drinking. It was good to go to the bar and take my mind off of things, even though that place is full of loud mouthed bigots. Of course my brother is going to call at any minute, and this sadness is only going to get worse.
Boner starts crying. The blonde, leggy reporter ( I must be watching Fox) gets him going on growing up working in his old man’s bar, being poor, and cleaning up after hapless, blue collar drunks. Boner talks slowly about his family and the bar, like he’s trying not to do what everyone in the country expects him to do. But the man can’t hold it for long. Soon his eyes get red, and then a couple of tear drops come. Boner’s body starts shaking, and he has to lower his head and weep into the cup of his hand. The leggy, blonde reporter looks all weepy too, like she’s thinking about her old man too. She waits for Boner to compose himself so that they can get on with the interview.
And wouldn’t you know it? I’m crying along with him. I could feel it coming when I started thinking about my grandmother again. I could feel my throat tighten, and each pull on the beer becoming harder and harder to get down. Goddamn. I’m sitting here crying over my dead grandmother, and Boner is on the television crying about his old man and his old man’s bar. Mr. Backdoor Dealmaker and Mr. Whatever-in-the-hell-I-am-anymore. Me and Boner. We couldn’t be more different. He’s a Republican and I don’t care anymore. But right now we’re two peas in a pod sitting here crying. A couple of pathetic grown men. Crybabies. What a pair we must make on another lost night in America.
I lean over a grab the remote off the coffee table. Man, I want to shut this shit off and get myself together. But Boner hasn’t lifted his head out of his hands yet. He’s still crying. And this is the best thing that’s been on the television all night. I might as well sit here and shed some tears with the guy. I think after I talk to my brother maybe I’ll call my buddies, have a few more, shut my aching brain off, and go driving golf balls. I think I’ll put this night behind me, pretend I never started bawling along with Boner. But I can’t turn away from the guy right now. I can’t leave him hanging. I don’t want to because I kind of like the way I’m feeling right now. I feel liberated, less anxious and antsy. I don’t feel so maudlin anymore because I’m crying tears of remembrance and joy. I feel a great weight lifted from off of me, if that makes any sense. Hell, I didn’t even cry at my grandmother’s funeral. But I’ve been crying ever since. I should at least keep this interview on until Boner is done crying. That would be the right thing to do, I’m sure of it.