I Will Always Be Fat

Before...after...more afterer

Before…after…more afterer

I was born fat.  I have been fat, chubby, overweight or on my way to or from one of those adjectives my entire life.  It’s time to stop kidding myself that I will ever be anything else.

Some are yo-yo dieters, but not me.  I’m a mini-tramp dieter.

I made the cheer-leading squad in 8th grade because, despite my size, I had spirit, yes I did.  None of the factory-made uniforms in the school supply locker fit me.  The neighbor lady made mine from a generic pattern, which meant the style, fabric and colors were noticeably different from the rest of the squad’s.  That was mortifying, but I got over it.   As the biggest I was always on the bottom of the human pyramid and the tiny girls climbed all over me.  Jennae pulled my hair or poked me in the eye every time, accidentally but inevitably.   I learned to live with that, too.  My nemesis, however, my Waterloo, was the mini-tramp.

A mini-trampoline is like a regular one, except it stands only 1 foot off the ground and is about 3 feet in diameter.   The plan for our big cheer finale was for each of us to run at the mini-tramp, jump on, and then bounce up into a straight-back, 90-degree, spread-eagle, toe-toucher in mid-air.  We were supposed to yell our names and finish up by landing lightly and skipping off to the side, all the while smiling and clapping.

I did fine with the smiling, clapping and name yelling; every other part was a disaster.

I’m not athletic.  My run up to the trampoline was hesitant, I climbed on rather than bounded aboard, and I couldn’t do the splits.   I wound up doing a pathetic, hunched-over, leg-lift a mere foot in the air.  One time I landed flat on my face.  The worst part, though, the very worst, was whenever I jumped on the thing it hit the floor with an audible “whump.”  Every performance was gleefully watched by a gym-full of sneering, name-calling adolescent boys and smiling-in-your-face-while-stabbing-you-in-the-back junior high Barbie dolls.  Or so it seemed to the impartial observer, namely; me.

This has been the metaphor for my life-long struggle with weight;  I’m either gearing up for the jump into weight-loss, going down, hitting the bottom or, inevitably, springing right back up to where I started.  I can never stick the landing and run off cheering.

Guess which one has trouble stopping at one graham cracker for an afternoon snack?

Guess who can’t stop with one graham cracker for an after-school snack?

Check out this groovy family picture circa 1970.  Ignore, if you will, the funny clothes and hair styles, and concentrate on the people.  All 9 of us kids were raised the same way and fed the same food.   Yet there is only one chunkster in the bunch – the blonde butterball in the back.  That would be me.

A couple of years ago I took part in a well-publicized family weight loss challenge.  It was well publicized because I announced it here on the blog thinking that going public would be a powerful motivator.  It was.  I lost a lot of weight and won universal admiration and a bunch of my siblings’ money.  Four years later I’d gained most of the weight back.   I’m sure only good manners kept my sisters from demanding a refund.

We fat people give a lot of excuses, which we know in our hearts are bogus.

“I don’t know why I can’t lose – I never eat anything!”  That’s Selective Eating Amnesia. We eat so unconsciously we don’t realize we’ve consumed the entire contents of a co-worker’s candy dish while standing at her desk.  We finish off the kids’ plates, snack in the car and by the light of the open fridge and it doesn’t register in our brains.  It does register on our thighs.

“But I’ve got glands, metabolism, big bones, depression, age, take meds, etc.”  That’s crap and you know it.  I know it.  Granted, each and every one of those factors makes it harder, but the bottom line is if we take in more calories than we burn, we gain.  Take in less calories than we burn, we lose.  Period.

It’s not that I don’t know how to lose weight; I do.  It’s not that I lack discipline; I’ve done it countless times.  Most of us have.  10, 20, 40, 60 – I once lost close to 80 pounds.   I could use all the weight I’ve lost to form a small army, which would be great to have.  They could follow me around and provide constant reassurance that I’m still fabulous.  The problem is that my army won’t leave me.

They say you shouldn’t think in terms of diet.   They say in order to succeed at permanent weight-loss you have to change your life.   “They” can kiss my grits.   It is true you only have to change one, simple thing to succeed at permanent weight-loss, but here’s that thing:

You have to be on a starvation diet for the rest of your life.

I’m not about excuses, truly, but it’s clear to me that some of us are hardwired differently about food.  We’re missing the automatic on/off switch when it comes to eating.  Food is an addiction for us, and I think it’s the clingiest monkey you’ll ever try to throw off your back.

I smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day for over 15 years so I know a little about how tough it is to kick addictions.   I quit for 3 years, then started up again, then quit again and this time it stuck.   I haven’t had a puff in 20 years.  I finally got it through my thick skull that I can never have another cigarette.  Never.  Have.  Even.  One.   Because one is all it takes with an addict.

I’m not minimizing the brutality of addictions to cigarettes, alcohol or drugs, but the thing is that we CAN quit them.  We can quit those things cold and never touch them again.  We can’t quit eating.  People like me have an angel sitting on one shoulder and a demon on the other and they are perpetually locked in mortal combat.  We have to pick sides every single time we open our mouths.

I know I’m not alone in this.  I hear you, Kirstie Alley.  I AM you, Oprah.

One time I was balking at the high cost of yet another diet – Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem; they all kind of blend together – and my husband said, “If there was a magic pill you could take to lose the weight, wouldn’t you buy it at any price?”  Point taken.  Signed up, lost a ton, gained it back.

There’s a reality show on TV called My Big Fat, Fabulous Life.   It’s about a lovely fat girl who advocates exercise for everyone, along with self-acceptance and no body shaming.   That’s great.   We should all love ourselves and we should get up and move as much as we are able.  I agree.  I’m also positive that girl would give anything to be thin – 100% positive.  If that magic pill did come on the market, even if it cost $1,000,000, she would be right in there with elbows jabbing, trying to get past me and the other Fatty McFatties stampeding to buy it.  She’s a lot younger than I am and probably in much better shape, but I still think I could take her.

I have a lot more years of desperation driving me.

This is the place where you might be expecting some sort of uplifting, self-affirming declaration like, “I’m through with diets.  I’m OK just the way I am, and so are YOU!”   Nope.  I want to be thin.  Thin looks better, thin is healthier, I know that and I want that.   We ALL want that.

Shoots of self-awareness have sprouted anew, curbing my eating and encouraging me to get outside and walk.  I’ve joined a gym.   I might even visit it someday.  I jumped on the diet mini-tramp and I’m losing weight again because I’m not giving up – I never will.

But I am weary to my bones of the endless, Sisyphean process of rolling this body up and down the same hill.  The truth has finally dawned on me; regardless of where I am on my mini-tramp journey, regardless of how my body looks on the outside at any single point in time, I will always be fat.

And that realization makes me sad.

Can I get an amen?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I wrote most of this last February when the third picture shown above was taken and I was only weeks into my latest attempt to lose weight.  The piece has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost 10 months.  I’ve revisited it since then, tweaking words and rearranging paragraphs, my finger hovering over the “Publish” button a dozen times.   I couldn’t bring myself to hit it.

If I’m being brutally honest with myself, something I usually try to avoid at all costs, I didn’t want to publish this for a couple of reasons.

  1. This is intensely personal. It’s as close to seeing me naked as the vast majority of you will ever get.
  2. I wanted to be able to say, “That was old-me. I’ve lost a ton since then, see? Now-me doesn’t look so bad!”  Like we used to do in the good old days of regular cameras when you took the picture, waited to finish the roll, waited to get it developed and finally saw the finished product when you picked it up at Walgreens 4 months later.  By that point you had full, self-deniability.  We can’t use that excuse in the modern era, sadly, when smart phone pictures are posted on Facebook before your smile muscles have recovered from saying “cheese.”
  3. I am ashamed. I am a reasonably intelligent, reasonably attractive, reasonably etc. woman and I cannot seem to conquer this.  The first thing the world notices about me is my body, and they judge me by this failing.  To a large extent, so do I.

I know you analytical types want the cold hard facts, so here’s where things stand:

  • 62 pounds: lost 5 years ago
  • 55 pounds: gained over the next 4 years
  • 48 pounds: lost in 2016
  • 5 pounds: gained over the holidays
  • 1 pound: lost in 2017

Welcome aboard my mini-tramp.

Posted in Biggest Loser: Family Edition, General Ramblings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 96 Comments

My Retroactive 2016 New Year’s Resolutions

I had a very good year.

I had a very good year.

Right about now, a lot of you are thinking of ways to improve yourself in the coming year; in other words, you’re making your 2017 New Year’s resolutions.  Bad idea.  Nobody keeps those for more than a week – two weeks, tops – so you’re setting yourself up for certain failure.  If we’ve learned nothing else in the last 10 years, it’s that aiming high breeds winners, but also creates the possibility that there will be losers.  That must be avoided at all costs in the interest of building self-esteem.

In the same spirit as abolishing class ranking and giving participation trophies, I propose everyone make their resolutions AFTER the year is over.  That way our goals are more realistic.  I’ve been doing it this way for years and my levels of self-esteem and self-love have never been higher.

Here are my Retroactive New Year’s Resolutions (aka Old Year’s Resolutions) for 2016 along with a report on how I measured up.  I think you’ll be pleased with the results – I know I was:

  • Lose weight…then gain it all back.  I really overachieved on this one by losing 50 pounds.  Not all at once, of course, but if you count all the times I lost 10 and gained back 15, it really adds up.
  • Get in shape…approximately the same shape as Jabba the Hut.  Nailed it.
  • Improve my mind…by watching educational programming on that university of the airways, The Learning Channel.  Spent hours studying “Little People of —-,” “Real Housewives of —-“ and “Family With A Whole Boat-load of Kids of —–.”
  • Give back…tacky gifts that I wouldn’t be caught dead using.  I successfully unloaded all such losers on unsuspecting recipients, and only regifted back to the original giver once.  Awkward.
  • Get involved in politics…by voting.  Also by welcoming diversity in ideas as well as race and sexual orientation.  Showed this by biting my tongue until it bled instead of telling others what I REALLY thought of their lame-ass candidate.
  • Do unto others…before they do unto me.  I practiced what I preached by not letting anyone into my lane if their lane was ending and they waited until the absolute last second to merge.  Dipwads.
  • Be more patient…with those who are deserving, a group that does not include rude drivers and clueless customer service representatives who are trying to get on my last nerve, I swear to god.  Otherwise, Mother Theresa could take notes from me.
  • Stop buying useless junk…which, of course, doesn’t include any of the incredible values and labor-saving devices I snagged on Amazon, QVC and similar fine, 2am shopping venues.
  • Save money…Save the planet…Save the whales…I covered all of these “save the whatever” do-gooder goals by saving those perfume-impregnated postcards that come stuck in fashion magazines.  Then I reused them as sachets in my underwear drawer.
  • Finish writing my book…or finish reading a book; that’s almost as good.  I highly recommend “The Calvin & Hobbes Cartoon Anthology” and even returned it to the library only a couple of weeks overdue.
  • Get smart about investing…in $10 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets every week.  Upped investment goal during weeks when the Mega Lottery payout was over $200 million.
  • Plan for retirement…see “Get smart about investing” above.
  • Stop swearing…except at all the @#$&-wads who must be deliberately trying to annoy me, I swear to god.
  • Drink less…prune juice.  Done and done.

2016 was obviously a stellar year for me, and I can hardly wait to find out how I do in 2017.  There are only 365 days to go.  I can practically guarantee I’ll exceed expectations once again.

What are your Retroactive New Year’s Resolutions for 2016?

 

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Last Minute Gift Ideas To Keep You From Being Ebenezer Screwed Again This Year

Christmas is the season for celebrating old traditions.  Around this blog, that means dusting off posts of Christmas past, posts that are staler than re-gifted fruitcake.  Enjoy. 

Bah humbug!

Bah humbug!

Christmas is only a couple of days away.  The cards are written, the presents are bought, wrapped and under the tree, and now everyone can sit back and enjoy the season.

Everyone except you.

You haven’t done anything to get ready.  You have no presents, no ideas and no money again this year.   You’re basically screwed, right?

Wrong!

Don’t despair!  You don’t have have to spend Christmas in the doghouse, just because you’re lazy and broke.  Borrow some of these last minute gift ideas:

1)      For the book lover:  Does someone on your gift list always have his or her nose in a book?  Have you priced hardcovers lately?  They can be $30 and up – ridiculous!  Trot down to the local library, check out the newest bestseller and wrap it up.  When the recipient opens your gift and looks bewildered, start on a long-winded diatribe about what an outrageous assault on the environment it is to cut down defenseless trees for books, and the importance of sharing resources.  Add a bit about the great history of Carnegie libraries in America and by the end of your presentation the book lover will be feeling vaguely guilty for ever having bought one.  Be a Christmas angel and remind the recipient they’ll incur overdue fines after 2 weeks, so they should read fast!

2)      For the wine lover:  With your Annie Green Springs tastes, you have neither the budget nor the knowledge to please a true wine connoisseur.  Don’t even try.  Take a card and write, “Here’s a little something to toast the season”.  Wrap up a box containing …2 pieces of dry toast.  I suggest using whole wheat bread since wine snobs also tend to be health food snobs.  They’ll look like poor sports if they even hint that they would prefer a real gift to your clever gag. (Thrifty suggestion: Cut a square of wrapping paper, fold in half and use this as a card.  You can write on the inside and it matches the package for an expensive, coordinated look.)

3)      For that special woman:  Is there anything a woman loves more than a truly spectacular piece of expensive jewelry?  Since THAT’s not going to happen this Christmas, you can still score points by hitting her other hot button: a love of schmaltzy romance.  Just write in a card, “You own the key to my heart.”  Wrap up a small, jewelry-sized box in which you’ve placed…a key.  Any old key will do –could be the key to your locker at the gym.   Make sure it’s not your car key, though, as it might be awkward to have to ask for it back at the end of the evening.

4)      For your kid:  Every parent has experienced this.  You get your kid a Suzy Homemaker kitchen, or Little Tykes workbench and they run right by the big, expensive toy to play with the box.  Encourage their creative spirit with an Imagination Kit: an assortment of cardboard boxes, rolling paper and toilet paper tubes, rubber bands and other stuff that you have around the house.  Pontificate about the importance of creative play, developing building and imagination skills and getting back to basics.  This will confuse the in-laws so they can’t be sure if you really believe all that stuff, or you’re just a cheap Scrooge.

5)      For the kid’s teacher:  Teachers get so much lame junk: ornaments, bubble bath and candles, they could open a gift store.  What do they really, really want?  Some relief from the unrelenting torment of having little monsters like your kid in their class.  Make up several coupons “Good for one day without Johnny”.  On days when your offspring has been acting even more like the spawn of Satan than usual, Teacher can send one of the coupons home with the kid.  You promise to keep him home “sick” the next day, thereby giving Teacher a much-needed break.  Be careful not to give so many coupons that all his days off catch the attention of the health department or truancy officer.

6)      For the brother-in-law:  Your lush of a brother-in-law is always getting in trouble with the po-lice.  What a hoot when he opens your gift in front of the whole family to reveal a stack of “get out of jail free” cards, taken from a Monopoly game.  Even funnier if you could be be there when he tries to use one when he gets stopped, weaving down the road on the way home from the family party.

7)      For your pets:  What dog doesn’t love a rousing game of “fetch”?  Simply gather up a couple of sticks (not too fat), about 1-1/2 feet long, and tie them up with a jaunty, red ribbon.   For the cat, smush a page from the Sunday funnies into a ball, wrap in twine or rubber bands, and you’re ready for hours of pouncing play.  (These also make thoughtful gifts for the dog or cat lover on your list.)

With my helpful hints, a little bit of cleverness can take the place of true thoughtfulness, money and any real effort on your part.

Merry Christmas, and good luck!

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Greater Love Hath No Man

Let's fall in love.

Let’s fall in love.

 

People can be endlessly fascinating.  They can also be endlessly irritating.   The secret to getting along with others, no matter where they fall on the fascinating/irritating spectrum at any given point in time, is to know when to speak up and when to shut up.

Greater love hath no man than to…

  • speak up when she has spinach between her teeth
  • shut up when she asks if her butt looks too big
  • speak up when he leaves his turn signal on
  • shut up when he is driving so slowly bicycles are passing him
  • speak up when his breath is bad enough to stop a charging rhino
  • shut up when he farts
  • speak up when she can’t remember her best friend’s name
  • shut up when she repeats the story you’ve heard so many times you could recite it in your sleep
  • speak up when he helps put away the groceries without being asked
  • shut up when he puts the canned peas on the wrong shelf
  • shut up when he gets the letters wrong in the ABC song
  • speak up when he shares his toys with his little sister
  • shut up when she asks what you REALLY think of her man
  • speak up when you think he would hurt her
  • shut up when you can’t stand the politician she thinks walks on water
  • speak up when she spews hate about people just because they’re different

Each of us has distinct characteristics and quirks.  Some we can change, and some we can’t; some we can help one another improve, and some it’s nobody else’s business to even try.  Whether at work, a family gathering, on the internet or within a marriage, before giving advice we should probably ask ourselves:

Will this be truly helpful?

Am I trying to make the other person feel better?  Be better?

Am I really just criticizing?

Greater love hath no man than to accept his fellows as they are.

And, damn, that ain’t easy.

 

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The Walmart Christmas Extravaganza

Christmas time is here again.  Tis the season for celebrating cherished traditions.  Around this joint, that means dusting off blog posts of Christmases past; posts that are staler than re-gifted fruitcake.  Enjoy. 

I wrote the following post soon after I started this blog, and it is still one of my favorites.  I can’t believe it has never been Freshly Pressed, Discovered, or made into a Broadway hit.   If any WordPress Story Wranglers or rich and famous Broadway producers are reading, feel free to reach out.

Thanks to People of Wal-Mart for the raw footage.

Thanks to People of Wal-Mart for the raw footage.

 

Walmart: The Christmas Musical

The entire play takes place in a Super Walmart on a Sunday afternoon during the busy, holiday shopping season.  Here’s the story in a nutshell:

Our heroine is a young ingenue who looks almost exactly like me.    She has been sprinkled with holiday cheer fairy-dust and sent on a quest in the Land of Walmart.  She must find another strand of the same brand of lights she bought last year, to finish the string dangling 1 foot short of the bottom of her half-finished Christmas tree.  Then she must get through the checkout and back to her car before the fairy dust wears off and she turns into a mean, bitchy old crone.

The show opened with Ariana Grande’s spiritual performance of “I’d Rather Be Naughty, So $&%# You, Santa!”  She and her backup dancers wore only sprigs of mistletoe, strategically placed.  As for their dance routine, let’s just say I will never look at a humble candy-cane the same way again.

Next up, a mother softly crooned a simple ballad to the 5 ragged children gathered around her cart.  She was imaginatively costumed in skin-tight black stretch pants and a leopard-print shirt cut low enough to reveal a pair of angels tattooed on the upper slopes of her absolutely ginormous, er, charms.  The song was ” I TOLD You 20 Times!”  and the chorus went like this:

“I TOLD you 20 times you gotta be at least 8 years old before Santa will bring you “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.”  I’m going to have your daddy (Rodney, that guy who’s staying with us) WHUP YOUR A** if you ask me again!”

I wasn’t the only one who left the show humming this moving tune.

The children’s choir almost stole the show with their rousing hit, “I Want THAT!”   The lyric was not complicated – only “I Want THAT”, over and over – but the performance elevated the words to art.  The volume of their childish cries built to a mighty crescendo.  The number ended with the whole choir falling to the floor in the middle of the aisles, kicking its collective heels.  Unforgettable.

The Greeters Gospel Choir’s  a-Capella rendition of “Go Tell It On The Mountain (The Holidays Are Here)” had everyone clapping along.   The reworked lyrics explained in an uplifting, catchy way how if the store employees said “Merry Christmas,” it would be the same as forcing shoppers to turn Christian and submit to full-immersion baptism.  Entertaining and really thought provoking.

But the showstopper was the big production number finale.

I took a couple of dance classes as a kid, so I’m familiar with steps like the flap-ball-change.  But I’ve never seen the moves the Walmart Shoppers Dance Troupe perfected for this extravaganza, a routine they call the Oblivious Shuffle.

Each shopper/dancer leaned on his or her cart and pushed it slowly, oh so slowly, back and forth across the stage.  Their shuffling steps kept one shoe (or house slipper, as the case may be) on the floor at all times.  The shuffling feet made a “shush, shush” sound that underscored the “squeak, squeak” of their unoiled cart wheels.  The occasional crash of colliding carts played like cymbals in the composition.

About half of the dancers had cell phones pressed to their ears.  One at a time, each burst loudly into song with lyrics like “…so that witch my baby-daddy is with now said they couldn’t take the kids Christmas Eve because they had to pick up her kids from her ex-baby-daddy’s, but we gotta go to my new baby-daddy’s grandma’s, so I told her if you think I’m going to take them on HIS day, you can just tell that &%$#…” Their solos were incomprehensible, one-sided conversations when taken by themselves.  Together, they wove a timeless Christmas story.

The dancers went through their movements with vacant, glassy stares that gave the illusion that they were totally unaware of everyone else around them.

Think of Night of the Living Dead as a ballet.

Meanwhile, the young ingenue wove her cart skillfully in and out of the shuffling throng, trying to get to the checkout.   Every checker shut down just as she got to their register, crying “price check on 10″ and “manager override on 5” in a surprisingly harmonious medley.  The audience held their breath when a determined shopper with 2 carts piled high cut in front of our heroine in the “15 items or less” lane, but there was no crash – it was all part of the show.

I don’t want to give away the ending in case you decide to see the show.  Suffice it to say that when our ingenue finally left the store and trudged through the slushy parking lot trying to find her car, she looked a lot like the apple-wielding hag in Snow White.

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Need a Ride? Better Goober

Floyd the barber is just one of Goober's fast, friendly and reliable drivers.

Floyd the Barber is just one of Goober’s fast, friendly and reliable drivers.

I’ve been traveling a lot in the last few months, going to big cities like Boston, San Francisco and Seattle.  One major difference between big city and small town life is how we get around.  Here, we use our feet and our cars.  In big cities, they Uber.

In the unlikely event some of you are even less hip than I am, let me explain that Uber is a kind of taxi service that is all the rage now in most cities.  Unlike conventional licensed, yellow taxis, Uber taxis are ordinary Joes driving their own cars.

Anybody can hire themselves out.  They sign up online with Uber, prove they aren’t ax murderers (I assume) and Uber adds their name to the list of approved drivers.  A rider downloads the Uber app on their smart phone, gives their credit card info, and hails a cab electronically.  Uber handles the transaction for a fee and nobody carries cash.

My mom strictly impressed upon me that you never take rides from strangers.  This was even worse than taking candy from them.  Yet this is something my 20-somethng daughters do routinely.  I’m not too thrilled by the idea, frankly, but it’s now part of everyday life.

This is so common it has become a verb.  You don’t “call an Uber” like you’d call a taxi.  You don’t “catch the Uber” like you’d catch the bus.  You just “Uber.”

When I was visiting relatives in Seattle, my younger and much more cosmopolitan cousin must have mentioned Ubering as a transportation option at least half a dozen times.   I finally replied that I wasn’t familiar with it because we didn’t have it at home.

She looked at me blankly.

“Uber.” I clarified.  “I don’t think we have that.  Don’t need it, really. My office is in town, so I can walk to the bank, the post office, the doctor’s office – even city hall is just a block away.  For everything else, most folks just hop in their cars.”

She was too polite to call me a clueless, country bumpkin, but the look on her face said it all. I realized I had just described life in Mayberry.

“Round ‘bout where we-all live,” I explained further, “we don’t Uber: we Goober.”

“Whenever we need a ride, we ring up Sarah on the telephone party line and she calls Goober down at Wally’s Garage & Gas Station.” I said.

“You need a ride? Go-o-olly!” says Goober.  “Sure thing!  I just gotta finish changin’ a tire on this ‘56 Dodge pickup, then I’ll be down to getcha in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.  Shazam!”

  • Took your best girl for a bite at the Bluebird Diner, and it’s pouring down rain when it’s time to go home?  Better Goober.
  • Need to get over to Mount Pilot?  Better Goober.
  • Put the “Gone fishing” sign on the door for an afternoon at Myers Lake and now your car won’t start?  Better Goober.

I was wrong about one thing, though.  I checked online when I got home from Seattle, and it turns out we DO have Uber around here.  That’s who Goober uses after he’s had too many glasses of Aunt Bee’s elderberry wine.

 

 

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Why Trump? To The Intelligentsia From The Flyover Zone

trump

Why Trump?  This question seems to be a source of genuine bafflement for the ruling classes on both sides of the aisle, but especially for liberals.  Let me see if I can explain.

I fell victim to one of those nasty, late fall colds and went home sick at lunch on Wednesday.  While ladling chicken noodle soup down my aching throat, I turned on the TV and wound up watching the America’s News HQ midday program on Fox.  The newscaster was interviewing Democratic Representative Tim Ryan from Ohio, and they were discussing why House Democrats are delaying a vote on the minority leader.  The talk is that Ryan may be tagged to replace Nancy Pelosi.

They cut away in the middle of their live interview to a clip of Ryan talking to reporters in the hallway at an earlier time.  Ryan said Democrats needed to reconnect with voters in the “flyover zone.”

The “flyover zone.”

The newscaster repeated the term, looking slightly puzzled by Congressman Ryan’s casual use of it, but she didn’t belabor the point.  They moved on to their main topic.

The thing is that the term “flyover zone” IS the point…of the entire election.

I’m sure Ryan didn’t mean to be insulting.   His was benevolent condescension.  He was just saying what the intelligentsia in both parties thinks of those of us in Middle America; you’re smarter than we are, you’re more sophisticated, you’re better qualified in every way to run this country and if you occasionally have to take a few shortcuts in the Democratic process or the Constitution to achieve your goals, well, the ends justify the means.

We know that’s what you think of us.  You make it abundantly clear.  We get it from the top down – even the President of the United States made it clear when he sneered about us rubes “clinging to our guns and religion.”

When I say Middle America I’m not just talking about the states located geographically in the middle of the country, although the election map certainly lit up that way.  We’re in every state of the union and we encompass all races, backgrounds and religions.  Middle America is made up of everyday people who quietly go about the business of living life.  Some went to college, some didn’t, but most of us work hard to earn our keep and take care of our families.  On our days off we kick back or kick up our heels a little.  We’re no saints, but we try to do the right thing.  We probably go to church.

We love our country and we worry about our families and the future.

You won’t find us out on the streets vandalizing property when things don’t go our way, because:

  1. it wouldn’t be nice
  2. many of us own small businesses and we know how we’d feel if someone did that to us
  3. it’s hard to stay up all night smashing car windows when you have to get up early the next morning to go to work

Middle America is tired of being lied to, either outright or by the ever-present “spin.”  We’re tired of being sneered at; we’re tired of being condescended to; and we’re tired of having the things that matter most to us mocked or brushed aside like so many pesky gnats; unimportant in the Grand Scheme of Things.

I’ve talked to a lot of people about this, mainly since the election.  Most said they were afraid to voice an opinion contrary to the established narrative beforehand. They knew that the same crowd screaming for inclusion and diversity would exclude them in a New York minute for espousing diverse ideas on topics that had been declared closed for debate.  If you suggested that Trump had anything at all of value to offer to our country, then that thought would put you squarely in the basket with the other “deplorables.”

It seems to me the main appeal of Donald Trump to Middle America, and the thing that first caught people’s attention, is one of the very characteristics that the intelligentsia ridicules the most: he says what he thinks.

You have no idea how refreshing that is.

He hasn’t had every syllable vetted by a carefully orchestrated focus group.  He’s relatively rough, unpolished and direct and, consequently, he often sticks his foot in his mouth.  Average people react to that because they do that, too.

I think that many Americans feel that Trump is an average Joe.  He’s one of them…except really, really rich.

In another interview on CNN, Congressman Ryan candidly said that his party needed to reevaluate how they talk to voters.  He said that they need to go into the red states and connect with working class voters, people he says he knows well. “They want to – they want you to talk to them about how they can run machinery, or run a back hoe or sling concrete block.  That’s what they want to do.  So we need an agenda for Democrats that speaks to those workers.”

He’s figured out what went wrong.  This is good.  The ideas aren’t the problem; it’s just that they didn’t explain their fabulous vision in a way that Joe Doakes in the flyover zone could understand.    They need to write a new script.

If they could just explain in simpler terms, Joe Doakes would understand that fossil fuels are BAD.  We don’t need that nasty smelly stuff, or those nasty, smelly jobs.  Joe can still run machinery.  He can run machinery to repair windmills and solar panels.  He’ll make a lot more money, too, because the taxpayer subsidizes those industries a ton.

If they could just explain it right, he’d understand that when he loses his job running a backhoe to an illegal immigrant who will work for $4 per hour less, he should blame his greedy, fat cat employer.  What possible justification could that employer have for trying to hold costs down in a global economy?  Blame him, not the government who refuses to deport illegals, not even those who are criminals.

If they could just make him understand, Joe Doakes would know that he’s much better off now under Obamacare.  When he’s slinging that concrete block around and he drops it on his foot, he now has unlimited access to the emergency room.  Of course, he has a $6,500 deductible, but he can sign up for free lactation counseling on his way out of the hospital.  That benefit alone makes it perfectly acceptable that his insurance premium doubled this year.

Every possible negative label was thrown at Trump.  They were piled on his back like heavy rocks, purposely designed to weigh him down and count him out.  The right hurled labels at Clinton as well, but the aim of those hefting the labels wasn’t nearly as good.

I’m no cheerleader for Donald Trump. I’m not going to defend or explain things he has said or done.  I probably can’t and I sure as hell don’t want to.   Lord knows the man is far from perfect, but neither is he the anti-Christ he has been painted.

I think people saw both campaigns as the hatchet jobs they were, and they chose to look beyond the labels.  When presented with two, deeply flawed candidates, voters tried to look past the man or woman and determine from their words and actions what each believed.  More importantly, what they intended to DO.

I’d like to think that everyone would give the President-elect a chance.  Maybe a new way of doing things WOULD be good for our country.  I feel that way after every election, no matter which way it falls.  I say I’d like to think that will happen, but I gave up on impossible dreams when I learned the Easter Bunny wasn’t real.  After a one-day pause to cry and lick their wounds, the attack dogs went right back to the task of tearing down everything Donald Trump does, says or is with renewed vigor.

There is one change I think we can count on as a result of this election.  Now that the intelligentsia has figured out they need the votes from the flyover zone, we’ll be seeing a lot more hard hats and Caterpillar tractor t-shirts on Capitol Hill in the next 4 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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