I awakened this morning a citizen of a new era. No longer will people in my state be compelled to marry only those with complimentary plumbing or fake a migraine to score some magic snickerdoodles.
But here's the thing, and I do feel badly. Throughout this tumultuous time, I've been a little too obnoxious, a bit too snarky, for some of my compatriots.
And for that, I must apologize.
What began as a final Facebook appeal to other members of my choir, materialized into a philosophical battle, ending in some hard truths about your humble bloggist.
Monday night, feeling inspired and giddy after a spirited dinner table chat regarding the impending election, I pecked out the following status update:
"Just listened to Romney's '47%' speech with my daughters. I can't believe anyone who has kids or wants to retire someday or serves in the military or thinks someday they may have a costly medical procedure, would vote for this guy. Let's hope he returns to whichever mansion he crawled out of."
Inflammatory? Absolutely. Offensive? Hopefully.
My Facebook universe, like most, is occupied by predominately like-minded thinkers. A cool cloud of agreement settled in over my stance, the smattering of "likes" lighting the blue and white page with those familiar red kibbles of acknowledgment and approval, making me salivate like a Pavlovian Pekingese.
Then this response popped up from an old fraternity brother:
"And your employer is in the 99% correct?" (Please excuse the plethora of spelling and grammatical errors you're about to wade through. He obviously felt the need to expedite his message sans that liberal spell checking entitlement.).
I paused, confused about what my former brother in beer quaffing (I'll call him "Barton") was talking about. The number he threw out concerned the majority of disenfranchised Americans which spurred the "Occupy Wall Street" movement. I was referring to Mitt Romney's comment that forty-seven percent of America doesn't pay income tax and wants lots of free stuff.
Finally, after weighing responses with varying degrees of severity, I replied, "Barton, my employer isn't a person. Apparently, you're confused about the difference."
He exhibited further confusion by including the world's richest individuals as members of the ninety-nine percent, rather than the one percent:
"I'm very grateful that Bill Gates (an individual in the 99%) gives my employer money to help the people in Zambia battle Malaria. There are many others who are in the 99% that give to charity. They don't have to give but they do. And many benefit from the money they make in our capitalist system. Ever heard of the Ford Foundation, Carnegie Foundation, and The Rockefeller Foundation. They were all created by individuals who were successful.
"...Walmart Foundation gave 958.9 million in cash in 2011."
Oh, no he didn't mention Walmart. Game on.
Others joined the fray. A high school friend chimed in: "958.9 million? Well that sounds about like 47% of the money they save each year not providing health care for their employees, using third world countries to produce their products in poor working conditions, and not honoring their leases on many of the stores they have closed this year."
Another fraternity brother added, "Your strong character and bravery are apparent as you stand with the strong against the weak. Well done."
Barton doubled down. "Corporations employs human beings and poor people don't employ anyone."
Touche, my English-challenged college graduate.
I snapped a bit. "Dude, how twisted are you? Are you saying corporations are inherently virtuous institutions to which we owe a debt of gratitude? They're responsible for most of society's ills, i.e. Walmart, Union Carbide, Monsanto, big tobacco, etc. People aren't poor in spite of most corporations, they're poor because of them. Holy shit."
He fired back. "Tim, I've been poor growing up in Thailand and to hear you and Chris talk about the poor get's (sic) rather annoying. I don't think you guys have any idea what being poor is about. I've worked very hard to get where I am and I've been greatful (sic) for the opportunities this country has provided me. I just find it interesting that those who have lived here all their lives don't seem to appreciate what they have."
I rolled back in my chair and stretched, trying to make sense of Barton's views.
As a final salvo, I replied, "My wife teaches fifth grade at a high poverty public elementary school with 87% free and reduced lunch. A lot of the kids are on their own most of the time because their parents work two jobs. Some are actually homeless and eat all three meals at school. We have to buy recess balls and school supplies due to educational budget cuts. Don't patronize me. You don't know my background. Chris and I are sticking up for poor people, but you're not! Conservatives make themselves feel better by convincing themselves that it's a level playing field. It's not."
"Patronize?" he retorted. "I've read your writings. You are the king of condescending essays."
Ouch. Game over. Come to Jesus, Tim.
He's right, and the truth hurts.
I am the exploiter of the weak. I do run roughshod over America's messengers of patriotism, portraying them rather as greedy hypocrites, racist pundits and religious zealots. And it's time to clean the slate, so here goes.
Rush Limbaugh, words can't describe my remorse regarding my attacks on your misogyny and drug dependence. You are a true American and I take back what I said about your wearing an ill-fitting bra. You don't. It's obviously quite expensive and expertly hugs your moon-like terrain of torso folds.
Sarah Palin, I've treated you so unfairly. I promise to make it up to you should you choose to run in 2016. By then, you'll be the hottest great grandma in the lower forty-eight.
Donald Trump, you are a patriot, a sage and you are grossly misunderstood. I pledge my continued support—as soon as you produce some documentation that you've gone back on your daily lithium drips.
And finally, Willard "Mitt" Romney, you fought the good fight. You've endured endless vitriol at the point of my poison pen, and my oath to you rings as sacred as those golden plates translated by Joe Smith just outside of Rochester, which then went missing. Nary another cross word shall grace my page...
...as long as you go the hell away forever.
At least I'm the king of something.