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Friday, October 12, 2018

Fringeville #186: On Incivility, Job Interviews, and Tater Tots

I am still …yes, still …waiting for the withdrawal symptoms to kick in after leaving politics. I think one reason they don't is that while I will always perhaps lean a certain way politically, I know longer view the world through red or blue glasses. I still have the frames, I just popped the frigging lenses out all together to try and see things as they are.

It certainly doesn’t mean I’m right, but at least any mistakes I make are my own. I am not parroting a party line.

On that note, here is my take on the Kavanaugh kerfuffle: Democrats were doomed in descending order of importance by a combination of Senator Feinstein’s ham-handed bungling, a lack of corroboration and the late-game antics of Michael Avenatti. There were a lot of other things going on, but these struck me as the big three.

That’s it. I’m done (almost). Moving on…

* * *

“When they go low, we go high.” That’s a helluva statement Michelle Obama made way back when. Politics tend to get nasty when the going gets tough. I’ve always thought that Michelle Obama’s message struck exactly the right tone. It’s hard to argue with staying classy.

Hers is not the view of some prominent Democrats today. There’s an interesting piece in Politico titled “Civility is for Suckers” that highlights the growing disdain of our political system by the left. Our Electoral College, in particular, is held in particularly low regard. I think that is because it worked as designed in 2016.

Not by bringing a victory to Republicans, but by making the 2016 Election about all of America, not just the population centers. In the minds of its detractors, that makes it illegitimate.

Speaking as a former Republican and currently non-affiliated voter (with a smidge of political experience in my background), there is a palpable shift to radicalism happening on the left. The shift seems to be condoned by many, including the historically flawed two-time presidential candidate rammed down the throats of Democrat voters last time around.

One of the voices of sanity remains Michelle Obama, who still believes in what she said. In fact she is doubling down on it, saying the slogan “absolutely” still stands.

In an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, Michelle Obama said, "Fear is not…a proper motivator.  Hope wins out…if you think about how you want your kids to be raised, how you want them to think about life and their opportunities, do you want them afraid of their neighbors? Do you want them angry? Do you want them vengeful?"

For a growing number of those on the left, that answer seems to be “yes.”

Some Democrat leaders appear to at least condone and in some cases encourage behavior that will, I believe, ultimately end in a tragedy. If things continue as they are, with legislators and their families targeted by mobs, it is simply a matter of when, not if, someone is seriously hurt or killed. 

It’s been pointed out that there were incidents of threats, violence and intimidation by elements of the Tea Party in 2010.

Fair enough point; no party has a lock on all the whack jobs.

How did Republican leaders at the time respond? John Boehner, House Republican Leader, said at the time: “Threats and violence should not be part of a political debate.”

To my friends on the left, be very, very careful what you wish for. If you embrace incivility you may get your wish: many Americans you should be able to swing your way will not vote for Republicans.

Instead, they will vote against chaos.

Now I’m done.

* * *

I woke up early today craving wings. Or a fat, juicy cheeseburger. Or a meat-lover pizza. The cravings passed as soon as the coffee hit my system, but I am so, so fortunate to have a wife who makes healthy meals that are also bursting with flavor.

Still, the day will come when Googling my name and “chicken wings” will come up empty. Pardon me, I’m tearing up.

* * *

A big topic lately has been temperament during job interviews. Over and over I’ve heard: “...Imagine if you behaved like Kavanaugh during a job interview!”

I have had a bunch of job interviews. Most were one-on-one. Some were by multiple interviewers, each inquisition done separately. I had one interview by a panel of two. I’ve never had a full-blown panel interview with a series of inquisitors. I also never had an interview where publicly assassinating my character was part of the process. Ditto one which involved the character assassination of anyone who gave me a bad reference.

I think the whole Kavanaugh kerfuffle* triggered a bizarre dream I had the other night.

(* Today’s word, kids, is kerfuffle. Say “kerfuffle” at any participating Hooters and get up to 0% off your wing order.)

As a disclaimer I neither confirm nor deny that before toddling off to bed that night, I may have been under the influence of a few chicken wing bites which triggered some sort of maelstrom in my sleeping brain.

On to the dream…

In this particular nocturnal flight of fancy Colonel Sanders nominated me to serve as a judge on the SCOCWT (Supreme Court of Chicken Wing Tasters.) I merely had to get through a panel-style interview and a courtesy vote by 100 chicken wing restaurant owners.

I took my seat for what I was sure would be a slam-dunk. After all, I am King of Wings. Bigly. I have a t-shirt that proclaims my love of wings, so it must be true.

The committee chairman spoke first: “Thank you for appearing before this committee, Jimbo.”

“My pleasure.”

“We just have a few questions from each side of the counter.”

“Counter?” I asked.

“Well, there is our side of the counter, the traditional wing sauce aficionados, and the other side, populated by wackos who make wing sauce out of peanut butter, avocados, yogurt and god knows what else.”

“Well, I’m sure we all love wings,” I replied diplomatically.

“Well, that’s good enough for my folks. I’ll turn this over to the opposition.”

“Mister Jimbo,” asked a sweet-smiling lady, “Did you actually graduate high school?”


“Just answer the question, yes or no.”

“Yes. It’s public record. I was at my graduation. I was hard to miss. I was on crutches.”

“I think you are lying.”


“I have testimony here from an anonymous classmate that you graduated illegally.”


She cut me off: “Are you aware Jimbo, you reprehensible sack of excrement, that you didn’t take a required two-credit health course during high school? Two credits required …required, Jimbo …for graduation by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?”

“I distinctly recall a conversation with a teacher who didn’t see it on my transcript. I believe that teacher was going to double-check. Nothing came of it.”

“Don’t you remember whether you took that class, which you should have attended in your junior year?”

“I don’t remember my junior year. I was hungover.”

“You were hungover? Every day?”

“Pretty much. I drank irresponsibly in high school. I lived in Harding, Pennsylvania. There was nothing there in those days but cows and cream ale. I don’t drink irresponsibly now. And I resent this line of questioning. What the holy hell does this have to do with wings?”

“If you are lying about graduating high school, you might be lying about your so-called love of chicken wings.”

“Don’t doubt my passion about wings,” I shot back hotly, but before I could say more I was cut off by one of her colleagues.

“Jimbo, do you believe that real wings come with a sauce?” a man in a dapper blue suit asked.

“Of course. Anything else is just fried chicken. There must be sauce on the wings or at least sauce on the side.”

“Why then, Jimbo, did you once order wings with a dry seasoning in Northvale, New Jersey and over-tip the wait staff to keep it hush-hush?”

“I did order those dry-seasoned wings. It was at Hennessey’s in Northvale. I’d picked up my son from JFK. He’d just flown home from Europe. I wanted to take him to lunch. We both like wings. I’d never been to that restaurant before or since. I didn’t know the wings were dry-seasoned.”

“You didn’t read the menu?”

“I was talking to my son. I really didn’t pay much attention.”

Another committee member chimed in: “Do you expect us to believe that a chicken wing lover and purist failed to simply read the menu?”

“My son had my full attention.”

“And you failed to recognize you were actually ordering …what was your own testimony … fried chicken? Then, to cover this grievous error in judgement, you bribed the waitstaff with a forty-percent tip.”

“I did over-tip, but it was an error. My son pointed it out on the way home. He joked that they’d name the table after me. It was just a math mistake. I wasn’t hiding anything, I was tired. And the wings were excellent, by the way.”

“Maybe you weren't tired. Maybe you were drunk. They serve cream ale there, don’t they?”

I was starting to visibly bristle.

“I have no idea,” I shot back, voice raised. “I ordered a diet Dr. Pepper. I haven’t had a cream ale since high school.”

Another inquisitor spoke up: “What about the tater tot incident in second grade?”

“Second grade?”

“You were served tater tots at St. Bernard’s in Riverdale, Maryland. You told the teacher you didn’t like them.”

“You’re asking about lunch in second grade?”

“Cream ale fuzzing up your memory again? Drinking cream ale in second grade? You are not fit, sir. Every child loves their tater tots.”

“We called them tater turds, 'fresh from the chicken’s butt.' That kind of turned me off. And we didn’t have mere teachers. We had nuns. Nuns with full penguin suits.”

“What did Sister do when you said you didn’t like the tater tots?”

“I think she rapped my knuckles with a ruler. She said I wasn’t thankful to be eating when kids were starving in China. Then she whacked me again.”

“What did you learn from that experience?”

“Never cross a nun.”

And then I let fly a string of fowl language not fit for print in this gentle blog post before my tormentor interrupted: “If you had to do it over again Jimbo, you’d lie to that nun to spare your knuckles, wouldn’t you? You have exactly the wrong temperament to serve as a Supreme Wing Taster. You lie. You are obviously hopelessly addicted to cream ale, and I think you need therapy. I’m sorry, but my colleagues and I don’t find you worthy.”

A voice from the right: “My side of the counter disagrees, and the restaurant owners voted 50-50 with the deadlock broken by Colonel Sanders,” said the chairman. “Welcome aboard, fat boy! There’s a reception in the lobby. Wings, tater tots and cream ale.”

“Forget it,” I shot back. “You’re all lunatics.”

A sudden, sharp rap across my knuckles and I turned to see a wizened old nun pointing her ruler at me.

I woke up screaming, but realized it had all been a dream. I sat up on the edge of the bed. There, on the floor, was a crushed cream ale can and a desiccated tater tot.**

The End.

**  Paragraph inserted at the insistence of the editors to capitalize on Halloween

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Be good to each other. Pass me a frigging cream ale.

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My motto is be good to each other. In that spirit, keep it clean on the comments. Personal attacks, nasty language, and any disdain of chicken wings will not be tolerated.