Sunday, April 30, 2000

Time out

99 percent Elian-free

        After a week on the beach in Florida, followed by a week back at work lifting bales of opinions and toting barges of bushwa on the Enquirer plantation, I'm ready to go back to the Codger State and do a full Dole.

        You know: sandals over black socks, Bermuda shorts like a Spinnaker sail, synthetic fiber golf shirt buttoned up to here, stogie stub clenched firmly in a permanent scowl, all capped by an adjustable tractor hat that reads, “Wake up, America!!!”

        Or, as Bob Dole used to say, “Where's the outrage!?”

        I can see how he got there. One day he was strolling the marbled halls of blue-suit power in the Senate, a respected, rational, national leader. Next thing you know he's retired. His wife drags him to Florida and he's on the beach in his black socks, Speedo and cuff-links, trying to fold his Wall Street Journal while being sandblasted by a bunch of New Yorkers who keep yawp-yawping and shaking their towels upwind.

        The way I heard it, it only took a few months at his condo in Senility Bay, Fla., watching Welk and catching the “Early Bird Senior Special” at Denny's, to turn Sen. Dole into the national spokesman for something called E.D. — which I'm not about to explain except to say that it does not stand for Elizabeth Dole.

        If a week's vacation is a sneak preview of retirement, I can see how it can turn any sane man into a certifiable coot.

        I can hardly wait. Tee time at 5 a.m. Drive home in first gear with the turn signal on to annoy all the commuters. Make a pharmacy run. Drink five cups of decaf — and you still have a whole day for creative complaining.

        For practice, I'd start by griping about that Cuban kid, but that's been done to death. The only story that could shove it off the TV news is “O.J. confesses to killing Jon Benet during JFK Jr.'s plane crash.” Besides, wasting more newsprint to complain about all the wasted newsprint sounds as hollow as our impeached president preaching about “the rule of law.”

        But in all that boatload of media coverage, isn't anyone a little bit worried that the INS has its own commando SWAT Team? What does it do when it's not pointing automatic weapons at 6-year-olds? Rescue Mexican restaurants from undocumented Mariachi bands?

        And what else does Uncle Sam have hiding in those jackboots? An IRS SWAT Team to check the arithmetic on my 1040? Are there Agriculture Department commandos to break down the barn doors of farmers who don't plant soybeans in fields where they promised they would not plant corn? It would probably make sense to Janet Reno.

        And what about the airlines? (Coots are allowed to change the subject without warning; it's a coot rule, like clearing your throat and making other loud old-guy sounds in public.)

        As I was saying — arrrgh, haaarumph, kaff, kaff, ptuui — if you think this column is skinny, you oughta see the seats on a flight to Florida.

        And just as you finally get wedged in, the late arrival in the seat next to yours is some guy who fell off the Weight Watchers wagon, or the lady with a carry-on bag that's bigger than a Hyundai.

        Once upon a time, flying was a dress-up adventure. Frank Sinatra sang romantic songs like, “Come fly with me, come fly let's fly away. If you can use, some exotic booze, there's a bar in far Bombay...”

        These days, we fly Greyhound in tank tops and flip-flops. If Old Blue Eyes caught the red eye, he'd sing, “Come drive with me, I'd fly but I can't pay. Delta's price, is a sacrifice, like the cost of a new Chevrolet...”

        Where's — kaff, kaff, harrrumph — the outrage!?

        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. E-mail:


        Peter Bronson is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.