Agreement and Argument

Meg Brower had an argument with her husband, Sid. She was upset with his small townishness. He wanted to know why she invited so many people neither known by him or her. He didn’t care if it was a meeting to discuss the war with which he usually agreed should be prevented or the Israel and Palestine disorders about which they didn’t always agree or oil lines through Central Asia about which they hadn’t a clue. Meetings with strange people coming and going invaded his privacy. Never mind the house had three floors. What had that to do with anything?.

Meg had just come in from trying to ski on an inch of snow. Like skiing on grass. More like skiing on carpet or rubber there was so much friction. This had not increased her tolerance for Sid’s need to be in control, his clannishness, his need to know, to be secure. Sid was originally from Thunder Bay, on the northern shore of Lake Superior. All four of his brothers had split from their spouses. Meg was sure it had something to do with their stubbornness, their northern insistence they were right in most matters. She was concerned that as Sid got older this bullheadedness came out more and more. In addition, Sid would let her know each thing she did wrong, each time he caught her in the act. Or when he wasn’t present, he was certain of the scenario. He was sure Meg was at fault when the toilet roll and holder were found on the floor or when replacements had not been purchased. It was her hair that was in the sink, her toothpaste gobs left in the basin. Yet, it was he who didn’t turn on the light when brushing his teeth or when he went to the john. He was insistent you didn’t have to turn on the light each time. He figured the amount of electricity he saved each year was considerable.

“You know, you left the bolt out last night. You didn’t even use the top lock or the chain either. One of these nights we’ll be murdered in our beds.” It was difficult to know how serious Sid was. Meg had heard parents correct their children the same way. This nickel and diming was doing her to death. “Sid, you can’t go around thinking we’re living in a prison fortress with all our emeralds and jewels on display for all the murderers and thieves to drool over as they move about freely. Chicago and Hyde Park aren’t perfect. But you don’t have to ride shotgun every minute of the day and night.”

Sid was sure at what time the lights on the porch needed switching on. At what time of the morning they needed to be off. Then he be became furious when the sale prices published in the Hyde Park Herald differed from the prices when they got to the grocery. If the manager was talking to another customer, Sid’s face would redden more and more. After a minute of this, he’d hunt up Meg who was loading up her cart with items from the shelves and grinding coffee. He insisted the store was falling to pieces. “I swear, these people don’t know what they’re doing. I cannot tolerate this much more.” He threatened to switch his grocery buying to Village Foods where the only thing they had going were their loss leaders.

They did agree President Bush’s policies were a mess. What to do about it was another matter. Sid already knew it was hopeless to expect his President to change. He was sure the man took over the office under false pretenses. He maintained, “The Supreme Court is so politically contrived it’ll probably assure the country it is perfectly legal and constitutional to restart slavery and divine right of sovereigns. What a monstrous throwback it is.” Meg looked out at the thermometer on the porch which registered five above. The blades of grass showed through the dry, dandelion snow. The newspapers kept maintaining the President was extremely popular all over the country. Reading them left her cold as an eternal January of five and ten aboves.

“Sid I got this theory. People of this country are damned fearful.” Sid snorted. “They ought to be. That genius out of Crawford, Texas telling the rest of the world he is sick and tired of Saddam Hussein. So he ought to come clean or he’s agonna Gary Cooper that sucker at high noon with the 250 million rest of us. Not exactly comforting foreign policy.”

“You are too cocksure you got Mr. Bush figured, Sid. It is comforting to a lot of people to have someone they voted for know what needs doing. Never mind he still hasn’t got bin Laden. But he has magically shifted his focus to Hussein who is a lot less of a moving target. Hussein is in Baghdad or near it. Not like bin Laden who knows how to hideout in the mountains and valleys. They love Bush’s strict father, tough cop on the corner routine. He’ll save them from future 9/11’s, from the corporate scandals, the snipers in Maryland, somehow from the plunging stock market, even the rising cost of medical insurance and prescription drugs. They are hypnotized by his rawhide talk. They are so taken up by his boot leather and spur talk they forget he’s pulling the rugs out from under the job, medicare, pension, education, environment programs to give more than half the budget to the generals, admirals.” He took her hands. “For someone messing up the sink with toothpaste, turning on unnecesary lights, dropping toilet rolls and holders on the floor whatcha got in mind?” She smiled. “Sound bites Pardner. Sound bites. Bush, War, and Unemployment; Bush, War and Sickness; Bush, War and Cowardice; Bush, War and Selfishness; Bush, War and Destruction;Bush, War or Medicare; Bush, War or Employment; Bush, War or Health; Bush, War or Children; Bush, War or Housing; Bush, War or Love; Bush, War or Life.” “So what are you saying, my Love?”

“I’m saying, Bush is bleakness as far as the eye can see, as far as the future is wide. He is as old and as twisted as an old cottonwood on the prairie and going just about as far. That’s what I’m saying and feeling.”.