Regimen Change – The Progressive, 11/30/2002

One fall Friday afternoon, late in the Reagan regnum, I was raging with my friend Sandra about militarism, misogyny, hypocrisy, the usual, as we walked the beach in Provincetown. We were bumming. Suddenly we pulled up short and looked at the gorgeous day we were in and had not seen.

We pledged to make every Friday “Shallow Day” because every other day is “Sartre-day.” For a number of years, we’d call each other on Fridays and talk about shallow topics – hair care products, spot removal systems, kids saying the darndest things. If one of us veered into a riff on triumphal capitalism, media consolidation or environmental racism, the other cautioned, “Too deep.”

In the past two years we’ve gotten away from our observance, and I, for one, don’t feel well at all. After yet another friend was diagnosed with cancer, I became afraid of the deleterious effects of the bilious, roiling rancor and resentment I’ve been nursing since the Bush coup. Though I have a professional outlet, thank goodness, I decided to be much more conscious in my daily practice.

When I shared with an African American friend that I was declaring one day a week a Bush Free Day [B.F.D] , she laughed and told me that she and her friends used to practice a variant. “We used to joke, ‘We can’t be black every day.’ Some days we just need to be human.”

Here are some of my exorcises:

On B.F.D., I don’t watch television’s 24-7 surreality show, The Whether Channel – whether or not to attack Saddam. As if it’s whether, not when. On that day, I don’t read the papers except to find the crossword puzzle or the same sex vows in the New York Times. It’s not that the Gray Lady has become the Gay Lady. I think they reasoned, “Oh, what the heck, it’s almost the end of the world anyway, let them have it already.”

On B.F.D., the only regime change I want to ponder is the almost unremarked upon replacement of Jamie Lee Curtis by Catherine Zeta Jones as uber wireless spokesmodel. What is the satellite dish there?

My regimen is harder than it seems. I used to enjoy the mindlessness of a good bracing, heart banging out of my chest, sweating run. Now inevitably at the end of my lope, I wonder if this is how the Gymster-in-Chief feels, whacked out on endorphins making up his mind whether or not to whack Saddam. “Huff, huff, If I’m under a seven minute mile this time, it’s a yes.”

This practice takes practice. Ironically one B.F.D., I went to MoSex, the recently opened Museum of Sex, in New York City to see the exhibit “How NYC transformed Sex in America.” Even though it is an academic, BF space, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has already complained. It’s not as if there were dioramas of pedophile priests being moved around like minor league baseball trades.

On B.F.D., I read poetry as antidote to “axis of evil”, “moral compass”, “preemptive strike”, “nuke-you-lure weapons”. I listen to “The Blind Boys from Alabama”. Loud. I make a great dinner for my friends. We watch my B.F.D. comedy loop – the last five minutes of All of Me, all of Waiting for Guffman, the “Day-O” song in Beetlejuice, Carol Burnett show crack-ups. Laughing with is healthier than laughing at.

To review: I’m not saying I’m bagging my forward-leaning oppositional posture like the Democrats who seem to be in isolated sleeper cells, not talking to each other, waiting for some signal. From whom? Tom Daschle? “He said ‘outrageous’, let’s move out.” I’m just saying damned if I’ll give any Bushwhackers, whose foreign policy finally answers the question, “Do you Yahoo?” the satisfaction of unleashing high grade aerosolized toxic fear into my personal airvents. In with good air, out with the bad air.

Take a B.F.D. mental health day. We need it for the long haul.

Kate “Omland is Homeland” Clinton is a humorist.