June 1, 2023

No News from Doodlebug Island . . . by William F. Jordan


The conviviality at Barney’s Pub and Suds had nearly reached its zenith when Frank Turpin asked Amos Baker how he accounted for the rise of the tea party movement? Actually, he inserted a pejorative before the words ‘tea party,’ which described his own opinion of a group he obviously disdained.

“Well,” began Amos amidst the groans of his table mates who knew that when he began with the word ‘well,’ a sizeable lecture might normally follow. In this case, however, he surprised them. “It’s caused by the same strain of virus that infects many mothers-in-law.”

“That’s ridiculous,” replied Frank, busily husking as many peanuts as would fit in his mouth.

“It’s quite true,” continued Amos as if no interruption had occurred. “It’s a mutated gene of the same virus that causes many a mother-in-law to believe her child could have married better, and who refuses to have dealings with the child’s partner.”

Now, it’s strange how, under the persuasion of group interaction, or spirits of the double-malted variety, logic can be expanded to include generalizations that sobriety by itself would dismiss out of hand, as Frank, Amos and their friends were about to prove.

“Then, all we have to do is tell the same jokes but with a twist. How about this: what’s mean, contemptible, and yellow? A teabagger with jaundice!”

“Or how about this one,” laughed Gill Frazier, “what is the most rare occurrence known to mankind? Any two teabaggers who ally themselves to the movement for the same reasons.”

“I’ve got one,” said Ralph Fenwick, “given the commandment to ‘love one another,’ what’s  the greatest contradiction in terms? A Christian teabagger.”

Fran Badner, who had been handling drink orders and therefore couldn’t help overhearing, spoke up. “You know how we value idiosyncratic ideas and behavior in ourselves and others? Maybe a better description of tea party behavior would be idiotsyncratic!”

No one could top this although several tried, then Frank turned once more to Amos. “How much danger are republicans in at being swamped by teabaggers?”

“Teabaggers are a coalescence of radical fringe that’s been there all along. I hope members of this group enjoy their day because in a few years, they’ll be remembered only through trivia quizzes. Their ideas are too disparate, just as Gill said. People can agree in broad outlines and by this means gain notoriety,  but when the movement gets down to details, I predict they’ll turn on one another like hungry wolves. The pendulum effect never fails!”

Conversation drifted on to other topics until Amos, whose penchant for mulling a matter over past all hope of redemption brought it back.

“What concerns me is what happens in the aftermath of an inevitable tea party crash? If personal greed and distrust of government can have gained so wide a hold, what might it auger for the future?”

“Republicans have found their dark side,” surmised Sam Neeley, who until now had taken no part in the discussion. “After this experience, maybe they’ll be like the inoculated old timer with a former propensity for shingles.”

“For their sake I hope you’re right,” exclaimed Alton Reed. “And ours,” he added, parenthetically.

Now, my wife frowns on my personal attendance at such occasions as the one described. Frankly, I’m glad she does, and I suspect I’m not the first husband to gain the unmerited credit of following his wife’s wishes when he would voluntarily refrain from a thing for his own reasons. I benefit from her pleased expression and use her objection as a shield for my distaste for drink-inspired conversational wanderings that often pass for conclusive truth. So, my knowledge is more often second hand. Frank related the whole matter to me later. He knows that, as editor of the

Doodlebug Island Run-on, I take the pulse of Island residents, and that I rather often prescribe for them through my editorials. But I confess to a consternation regarding tea party rationale that stops me in mid sentence. Folks who manufacture a connection between their actions and attitudes and those of British subjects many generations and issues ago puzzle me.

Simply put, they make no sense to me. I checked with my bride, she of the infallible instincts of Solomon as fact checked by Diogenes. Her summation was brief. “Teabaggers parade in the ghostly robes of the John Birch Society, the I.W.W., the KKK.”

Then, uncharacteristically, she added her own malediction. “They’re a real-life test case of lunatics running the asylum!”

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