If stress were the sole predictor of life expectancy, I'd probably live long enough to see President George Bush IV--the bastard son of the least-talented former 'NSync member, Joey Fatone, and one or both of Dubya's drunk-ass daughters--destroy whatever's left of America. See, I have almost no stress in my life. Perfect kids, perfect wife, perfect editor. (I thought I'd put that one in the bank for the next time I try to write a column about that idiot at the Jewish Community Center.)
However, during the past six months, I noticed a little bit of stress creeping in. Once or twice, I found myself asking the people at the fast-food-place window to check the order to make sure they weren't giving me somebody else's healthy crap. One day, I actually asked myself whether there weren't too many books, magazines and newspapers in the house.
And some nights, it would take me almost twice my normal 45 seconds between the time my head hit the pillow and the moment I fell into a deep sleep. What could be causing such turmoil in my life?
I finally realized that it was the political season. I was listening to and watching what passes for political coverage several hours a day. And what passes does so like Ellen DeGeneres used to pass for straight--barely, if at all.
You've got drug-addict Rush Limbaugh, acting like he's still important. Then there's little-bitch-boy Sean Hannity. (You just know that when he was a kid, he used to get his Little Lord Fauntleroy ass kicked every day.) So he sucks up to Rush Limbaugh for a decade or so, and when he finally gets his own TV show, he hires a sidekick who's even wimpier than he is so he can bully his "partner" and then bully all his guests.
There's also Bill O'Reilly, who ran up a $5 million phone-sex bill. (To his credit, O'Reilly had the backbone to admit his disappointment and anger with the Bush Administration after the weapons of mass destruction turned out to be nothing more than a CIA wet dream.)
On the "other" side of the aisle are the ineffectual Chris Matthews and Tim Russert, whose scrunched-up face always makes him look like he's thinking really, really hard about how constipated he is.
I was obsessed. I'd read the articles in three newspapers a day and several magazines a week. I'd listen to the radio in the car and watch the shows late at night on Fox News. I'd even go online to the Electoral College Web site and watch the map get redder and redder every day.
I took it all very personally. Once, Limbaugh stupidly announced that atomic weapons had been found in Iraq. I listened every day for the next week to see if he'd retract the item, but he never did. So I wrote him a message in free verse. It went:
Other than the normal amount of
X-rays absorbed during my work at the
Yale University Hospital ...
The first letters spelled out OxyContin, and I was just hoping he read it and got all tingly.
Recently, Limbaugh announced that nobody in America had voted for John Kerry. Instead, 57 million Americans had voted against Bush, which, in his narcotic-addled brain, meant nothing. I'm sorry, El Druggo, but if 57 million people vote a certain way because they hate the current president's policies, surely that must mean something.
After the election, I realized that I had to do something. I drove around with the radio off for the first couple weeks and then, late at night, instead of Fox, I'd watch Love Actually over and over again. My basketball players tell me I've kinda got this man-crush on Hugh Grant.
Then, my son bought me a CD player for my car. Did you realize that you can drive around all day in your car and just listen to music? It's as though Limbaugh went back into drug rehab and took Hannity and the rest of the world with him.
Yasser Arafat's dead? Who cares? In my car, Duane Allman's still alive and playing the Fillmore East. The soulless Republicans are forming political alliances with the crackpot Christian right? So what? Mick Jagger does this killer soul duet with Joss Stone on the new Alfie soundtrack.
I can sit in my car and listen to Chicago before they became a gutless ballad band and Outkast before they went Hollywood and Prince, before and after he found religion, and not have to worry at all about how Bush and his band of draft dodgers and pimps are misusing the military and pissing on the middle class.
I plan on listening to Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye until October 2006, and then I'll turn on the news. If it looks like more of the same Bush-wah, I've got this Stevie Ray Vaughan boxed set that should take me through Election Day.
The stress is gone. As Irene Cara said in Fame (which I most certainly do not have on CD), "I'm going to live forever..."