I went next door to my neighbor's house to borrow a cup of sugar and she told me to drop dead.
My fault, really. Three years later and I still forget. It seems like forever and a day ago that we were still part of Real America, or R.A. as it's now simply known, but ever since Sarah Palin took the helm last year in late 2011 and they closed off the last exit ramps of the Beltway, the reality started to set in. Krista and I always used to laugh about anything--dogs, kids, my poor lawn that keeps dying -- but now she seems more reluctant to come out and chat, just as President Palin predicted. So the sugar thing shouldn't really surprise me.
Down here in the Lower 14, this new, weirdly configured parcel of land, things have gotten pretty surreal. Over in R.A., not even 25 miles from Arlington, where I am, they're partying like it was 1999. You wouldn't believe the pictures they show every night on Fox News:
barbecues, pie bake-offs, Little League tournaments! We never did those things here. But then I never really took the time to think just how much kinder and more patriotic those folks always were. Now that I just skimmed the resettlement pamphlet I received from Secretary of
Culture Kid Rock, the one with Elizabeth Hasselbeck on the cover saying, "In or out, American! You Make the Call!" I'm starting to understand better.
Basically, they had it all along while we were just pretending for all those years. (Maybe even centuries!) Back when she was running for vice-president in 2008 and she made the speech that got this whole ball of wax rolling, the one about those "wonderful little pockets of
America, " -- the "real America" -- things were pretty normal. Even though we lived in one of the affected areas of anti-Americanism -- the nation's capital, ironically enough--we still acted as if we were good and kind people. But now I know that all those cups of sugar from Krista were just an act, a mirage of kindness.
Things snowballed fast. People took the then-governor to heart and early in 2011 the "dividing up," as it was called, started in earnest. Attorney General Michele Bachmann, whose first act was to rename the Justice Dep't. building the "Joseph McCarthy Department of Justice,"
played a shrewd Rasputin, whispering in President Palin's ear the way Joe Lieberman used to do with President McCain. It was Bachmann who first suggested the "E" (elitist), "L" (liberal) and "A" (pure American) designations for driver licenses. Truth be told, it actually makes things go faster at the DMV, so it's not all bad.
(And to think Bachmann's meteoric rise was based on one appearance on a now defunct show in which she called on newspapers to investigate members of Congress and "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America." I wonder what ever happened to that Matthews guy? Personally, I think he got hit with a rendition.)
After that, people began leaving here in droves, looking to relocate to one of those towns, where, as President Palin said, "we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us." In hindsight, she was so right. Just the other day, I saw an older gentleman trip on the sidewalk and I just kept walking. And as I scampered away, I looked at my fellow Washingtonians, those of us still here, at least, and they all did the same. Who were we kidding all those years?
So those who left, left and the rest of us anti-Americans stuck around. In this part of the country, at least, the good eggs could just drive north towards Amish country or just a bit down I-95 to the Fredericksburg line and the neighborliness and patriotism would kick right back in. But if you lived in, say, Newark, you were pretty much out of luck. I never thought I'd see so many Jersey barriers return to Jersey.
The one thing I don't get -- and I still have enough of my history books around that weren't confiscated last month on Roundup Day (between you and me, if I hear one more western phrase, I'm going to clock someone) -- is that I thought the good people used to be all over this country, in big cities and small alike, conservative and liberal, and not just in the "little pockets." I mean, all those brave firemen from New Jersey who died on 9/11, they didn't come from the boonies, did they? And all those Bostonians who were in places like Lexington,
Gettysburg, Sainte-Mère-Église and Hue, all the while finding time for their beloved Sox -- they weren't "real?"
What about the black soldiers from places like Philadelphia and Detroit who fought in Italy in WWII (but couldn't eat in the same mess hall as everyone else), or the San Franciscans who ended up in internment camps in Manzanar and other god forsaken places, the immigrant steel workers in Chicago who created America's most beautiful architecture, and those New Orleanians, who stuck together like nobody's business even after their own government abandoned them -- and as their "little pocket" neighbor sheriffs shot at them from across county lines? That seems to be a whole lot of folks who weren't good citizens, but I guess it's like President Palin says: you really have to be in the small towns to find the "hard-working, very patriotic and very pro-America areas of this great nation."
I better stop. I don't want to get myself in trouble with the Secret Service for saying anything out of line -- we all know what happened to Sean Penn last month. But I do know one thing for sure: not one of those aforementioned folks ever needed a goofy diamond-encrusted American flag pin from Ann Hand of Georgetown to trumpet their patriotism. (Funny, after Cindy McCain left for R.A., all those high-priced jewelry stores closed anyway.)
It doesn't make much difference anyway. I'm just biding my time here in Arlington, Virginia, palling around with the rest of my probably-terrorist, un-American friends who couldn't get out in time. Sure, I'd like to be on the other side, in Real America, sharing a burger and beer with the neighbors. On the other hand, it's a lot easier to get Springsteen tickets now.