As I mentioned, I watched the President's speech at Damon's Grill last night, surrounded by eight family members and a bunch of strangers.
I'm glad I watched it there; had I been home and realized early on that the speech was not being broadcast by any of the major networks, I might have put something large and heavy through the tv.
It probably says something about the state of America when television stations would prefer to run The Swan
instead of an important speech, but it probably says even more about America that most people didn't think the speech was all that important and were quite happy to see The Swan
instead of Bush.
Why was the speech so important? Well, you would think that with all the complaining the media and the Bush opposers do about not knowing what's going on with the handover, or how there is never any good news coming out of Iraq, they would jump on this chance to actually hear about these things. Hah.
So there I was in Damon's, waiting for the speech to begin. We're in this part of the restaurant that is lower than the rest. I guess it's set up like theater seating, but with booths and tables. On the upper level is the bar and some tables. The middle level has several booths, all semi-circles facing the huge tv screens below. The last level is where we were; long tables to fit large parties, but set at an angle so that if you want to look at the large screens, you must twist and crane in such a fashion that leaves you needing a massage at the end of dinner. Which, by the way, they do not offer. I asked.
There are three screens. One shows FOX News (I've been there other times where it was CNN or even CNBC. But never MSNBC). One shows ESPN. The other shows trivia questions. Each table gets these little computerized boxes that remind one of a Speak and Spell (tm) and you enter your name using the keyboard. Your name - or whatever name or acronym you give yourself or your team for this purpose, appears on the large screen for all to see. The trivia questions appear, you type in your answer and the whole restaurant gets to see who got the question wrong. When the scoreboard shows after every question, you mentally try to match up the childish team/personal nicknames on the screen to the people in the room. Oh yea, I just know which guy is using GoldsGymGuy as his moniker. And yes, that chick must be MyTitsAreHuge
. My sister and I tried to put in BUSH04 just to piss off the people next to us that were using KERRYPRZ (and discussing the topic loudly), but apparently Damon's thinks that Bush is a bad word, so we settled for GWB. When the game started and the list first appeared, I noticed someone was using KERRYSUX and I thought, heh, that was probably another response to KERRYPRZ and I looked around to see if I could figure out which family (this place is all families. Loud, obnoxious families like my own. Do not go there on a date during the week)
and I noticed DJ smirking. Yes, that was my son's name. My sister high-fived him and the games began on TV3.
At the same time, President Bush was getting ready to speak on TV1. A baseball game - Astros v. Reds - was on TV3. Now, each table has it's own volume control, with a switch to turn the sound to whichever tv you want to watch. If you choose trivia, you get inoffensive pop music, which I find, ironically, to be pretty offensive. We chose FOX. We turned it up loud. A few other tables also chose FOX and the president's voice wafted through the restaurant, booming over the shouts of Hey, waiter did you forget about us?
and Mooooom, Bobby spit in my dinner!
Bush started right in.
The actions of our enemies over the last few weeks have been brutal, calculating, and instructive.
Good. He was addressing the bad stuff early on. I was pleased to hear him be so frank and bold about it and to use it to segue right into a "free and self-governing Iraq."
My mother was saying something. A pilot. John Travolta. Movie. Oh yes, the trivia! I was part of a team, I needed to pay attention! No, no not Look Who's Talking.
I think he just wanted
to be a pilot in that movie. Broken Arrow
. Yes, the movie with Howie Long. Trivia. FOX. President. Travolta. Babies crying. Kids shouting. Enormous claps of thunder outside. My head began to swim. I look at TV1 and Howie Long is giving a speech about Iraq and he's winking at me. Awww yea, baby. Come to me, Howie! My sister slaps me on the back of the head. Hello?? The food is here. Wake up.
I ordered the steak that comes with the grilled portabello mushroom and some decadant sauces or glazes or something that for some reason make me think of Steve
. The dinner comes with grilled slices of a zuchinni that must have been so large, which for some reason made me think of Howie Long again.
Iraq now faces a critical moment. As the Iraqi people move closer to governing themselves, the terrorists are likely to become more active and more brutal..
This is really important. He's being completely honest, facing the truth head on and letting people know what to expect in the coming weeks. I like the way he looks. Determined, full of resolve.
How the hell am I supposed to know that? This is supposed to be fun trivia? I'm sorry, but I don't know anyone who thinks that gathering around a huge tv screen, eating steak and drinking beers while answering questions about chemistry is fun
. This was followed by a question dealing with molecular biology, followed by a question about some long-forgotten television show, probably from the days back when people used tin-foil to get the best reception from the two channels they got, both of which would have carried any speech the president made.
There are five steps in our plan to help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom.
Yes, and all of America should know about these five plans. They should not, at that very moment, be watching some chick get her boobs surgically lifted. We are a nation at war and our president is addressing not only how the rest of the war is going to play out, but how the war is going to end. I notice a few people starting intently at Bush. The people next to me, the KERRYPRZ table, they are staring intently as well, but I think they are using the advantage of hi-def television to see if the scrapes on Bush's face are consistent with the topographic generalities of Crawford, Texas.
My steak sucks. Too much peppercorn. Not cooked the way I like it. The portabello mushroom has the consistency of rubber dabbed in motor oil. I eat anyhow, because I am completely unaware that I am shoveling food in my mouth as I turn from TV1 to TV2, from Iraq’s infrastructure
to a question about Tatum O'Neal. The thunder booms on, the babies scream, the kids whine, someone in the Reds game scores. Most people have lost interest in Bush by now and I think, how can you not see this as important?
But before I can make my move to stand up on the table and make an impassioned speech about Bush and Iraq and freedom, my mother starts to whoop and holler that she won the damn trivia game, all because of a question about Elvis that of course she would know and GWB is in second to last place. KERRYSUX comes in third. URMOM - and I'm sure URMOM is that sixty year old guy in the Green Lantern shirt and Marvel hat, dining by himself - finishes in second. In last place is KERRYPRZ and for some reason, that makes me feel good. I decide to take it as an omen, like a fortune cookie in a steak house.
These two visions — one of tyranny and murder, the other of liberty and life — clashed in Afghanistan. And thanks to brave U.S. and coalition forces and to Afghan patriots, the nightmare of the Taliban is over, and that nation is coming to life again. These two visions have now met in Iraq, and are contending for the future of that country.
That, my friends, is how the war on terror involves Iraq. That is why we are fighting this war, because if you chase terror out of one place, it will simply find another to harbor it and it is our job, as defenders of the universe, to make sure that democracy exists in these places so that terror networks can't turn them into their own rogue nations. That's my take, anyhow.
So Bush finishes, dinner is done, trivia is over. We escape into the rain and lightning and cross the parking lot to Best Buy, where I cross my fingers that some naive floor clerk will understand my plight about it being my husband's birthday the next day and how I really need to have LoTR all wrapped up for him in the morning, but the clerk suggest that I dress up like a hobbit and hand him a Best Buy gift card instead. Thanks, buddy.
And now, I must devise my plot against the birds.