Growing up my brothers and I were taught proper manners. More axiomatic than The Golden Rule or even The Prime Directive was the truism Never Return Rudeness with Rudeness. This was sometimes called “Not Stooping” or “Shaming Them” or “Setting a Good Example”. We kids thought these weapons puny but our parents assured us sticking to them showed the world we were proper Christian Gentleman with honor, strength, and virtue. Think of Gregory Peck being spat in the face in “To Kill A Mockingbird”.
The weekend’s combination of dehydration, fatigue, cabin-fever, and political gloom translated me into a raging bitch slubberdegullion. There was a part of me that not only wants Mr. Peck to punch back but do some spitting himself. It was a good thing I was homebound lest out and about destroying my good Henley Street name.
I am normally not one to pick up the home phone, for it is always someone with whom I have no desire to speak. I was sick, home, bored, I had an evil urge to stick pins. Four times the phone rang; the better angels of my nature could not prevent me picking up the receiver ready like Joan Crawford facing the Board at Pepsi.
Hello? Who is it?
The first caller was a pollster. I sensed she wanted ‘the Right answers” so I went along saying yes I have voted Republican (true) and for McCain (possibly true) etc. and then when she asked about Trump I said no way in hell would I do so. She stiffened. ‘Well why not?” I explained he is a narcissistic Hitler-type and I can’t vote for a monster supported by the KKK and the Nazis. She hung up about the time I got to the Hitler part, but I kept going to get it all out.
The second caller was from my alma mater. She didn’t directly ask for money but started with the question what were my warmest memories of college. I told her bluntly I was sick as a dog and no desire to gab and how much does she want. What she wanted was my credit card. I told her I’m bedridden and not getting up; send me an envelop or call back. She said she would do the latter and hung up.
Billy-goat #3 to cross my troll bridge was another pollster, who screened me to ascertain I was white to ask “In the near future would I support a constitutional amendment to prohibit the use of Spanish in public documents?” I made a mental note to learn some Spanish curse words and replied it would be more humiliating for non-English speakers to force them all to wear red triangles on their shirts and coats. He too hung up.
The fourth caller quickly congratulated me on an my qualification for an all-expense-paid trip to Florida for a Bahamas cruise – if I give him my credit card and then I have 18 months to get the details and make the arrangements. My first impulse was to hang up but since I had nothing better to do I lay in bed with the phone on speaker bear-baiting him with inane questions. What kind of car will I get? Will it have AC? Do they have lobster on the cruise? What if I don’t like my cabin view? What’s in the Bahamas? How many islands does Bahamas have? I finally got around to saying this all sounds like a con job. When he objected I feigned sorrow and started telling him all my personal woes. This went on for thirty minutes until he asked me would I like to speak to his supervisor and I said no and hung up.
Full of compunction at such a display of outrageous manners I promised myself before I sink any lower I will not answer the phone but have Someone do it for me.