When I was growing up in the early '50s it was common for families to partake in the daily ritual of taking the evening meal together. Too bad that's gone now. We all learned a lot sitting at that table, including the fact that I would immediately throw up any time I was served fish.
On one particular night dad was the last one to the table. After serving meatloaf, mashed potatoes and lima beans first to mom, then Rick, then me (sadly, I was not allergic to lima beans) the usual small talk began. Mom noticed dad was not in his usual good humor.
"How was your day, dear?" she asked. "Golly," he said, "this insurance game is tough swimming right now. I'm up to my neck in alligators, and being nibbled to death by ducks!" Being 6 at the time, visualizing that image made me immediately go pale. Looking at lima beans made me go pale too, but this was serious! That night and for several nights thereafter, I had nightmares of my dear father, swimming for all his might in an alligator infested swamp being continually attacked about the head and shoulders by pesky ducks. Now, more than fifty years later, when I pick up the morning papers I recall that same nightmare ... only this time, the nightmare is real and I'm the one thrashing in the swamp.
This global economic meltdown easily qualifies as the biggest bunch of alligators I've ever seen in my lifetime. It is insidious, pervasive, relentless and the pain from the huge bites it's taken from all of our lives is very, very real. I take some comfort in the knowledge that one, it's not my fault, and two, everyone else is in the same swamp with me. It's in my nature to think positively, so I'm pretty sure I can survive the alligators ... but I'm really starting to wonder if I can outlast the ducks. These things are driving me nuts! Every day another nip, another chomp, another nibble!
It's summer time, I'm driving more, so of course gas prices are headed up ... nibble.
And now that gas prices are above $3 a gallon, every time I get in a cab I get hit with a 50 cent fuel surcharge ... nibble. I just leased a new car ... taxes up, title fees up, license fees, up ... nibble, nibble, nibble.
And last fall Cook County King Todd Stroger (not to be confused with, or outdone by King Richard) nailed us with the highest sales tax rate in the country ... nibble (OUCH!) Speaking of King Richard, one thing you can bet on: this Olympic process, win, lose or draw will not leave us un-nibbled. And for what it's worth, our esteemed legislators in Springfield are getting their ducks in a row this week and when they're done, we'll be in for a nibbling like we never imagined.
Parking meter rates? Don't get me started! Nibble my patoot! Even by Chicago standards, that's a full scale frontal assault! Shock and Awe! Schwarzkopf and Patton would be proud.
What to do? Revolt? As much as I like the thought, my calendar's pretty booked this week. Come election time, throwing the bums out isn't a bad thought. Let's keep that one in mind. In the meantime, the City Council with its recent momentary flash of sanity has provided us with at least one way to kill the ducks: eat more foie gras!