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Nope, not going to go there ... no way, no how

I don’t want to talk about it.

You don’t want to talk about it.

Even the people who are paid far too much money to talk about it don’t want to talk about it.

But we do.

Worse ... we listen.

We can’t stop ourselves. It’s a national story, the fallout from which is felt in every neighborhood.


So, while the leaves change color we know we’re heading into a winter of discontent during which even the voices in our heads talk about ... That Which Shall Not Be Named.

It’s everywhere.

I hope we all enjoyed the reprieve afforded by a fire season that blessedly didn’t make us sick from orange-tinged, omnipresent and repressive foul air, because that other headache is just getting heated up — and has become as unavoidable as that big orange-tinged elephant trumpeting from the corner of the room.

Try to look away. You can’t. I can’t.

Frankly, I’d rather play a few hands of Fizzbin with Bela Oxmyx, Jojo Krako and the crews down at Iotia than deal with the hand we’ve been dealt.

We, especially those of us who have lived through this before, aren’t looking forward to getting a piece of this action. But we have a better chance of beating the incalculable odds of holding a Royal Fizzbin than we have of steering clear of it.

We know when to walk away, we know when to run ... but where can you go when That Which Shall Not Be Named stares you in the face every place you look?

For instance, I was combing over some wire stories the other day when I came across the news that “The Far Side” — Tacoma native Gary Larson’s much-missed, off-kilter view of life, liberty and the happiness of pursuit — might return in online form from its 20-year nap.

Talk about ... timing ... the most important element of comedy being ...

“Far Side” fans have their favorite panels. I have two, and I suspect these are among the usual suspects for many folks.

Yet even while happily lolly-gagging in nostalgia, That Which Shall Not Be Named reaching out with its gnarled and narly fingers.

I first thought of the caption-less panel depicting the entry to a Boneless Chicken Ranch, where hens are scattered to and from — aside the entry road, straddling the fence ... because it’s impossible for chickens lacking a spine to stand on their own two feet.

And, naturally, I immediately made the connection to congressional Republicans.

“No, no, nonono ... don’t go there,” the voices in my head implored. “That’s only opening the door to talking about it.”

When I heard myself say “opening the door,” however, I segued to my other favorite “Far Side” cartoon — that of the student pushing with all his might at the entrance to the Midvale School for the Gifted, his hand forced up against the steel door — just below the sign reading “Pull.”

And, naturally, seeing this clueless soul’s determination to get where he wanted to go, but doing so in the most fruitless way possible ... I immediately made the connection to congressional Democrats.

See what I mean? You can’t escape That Which Shall Not Be Named — even in the funny papers, although these days I will grant you that it’s difficult to tell those apart from the rest of the news.

Of course, that’s just how my mind works. Yours, Lord willing, works differently; but since I was stuck on this road void of exit ramps or intersections, a name suddenly appeared before me ... one I was certain I hadn’t thought about in decades.

Alexander Butterfield.

Slowly, I turned. Step by step ... inch by inch ... I moved closer to a vast waterfall of memories cascading over my synapses.

Alexander Butterfield testified on Friday the 13th in July of 1973 about the existence of a to-that-point secret tape recording system in the Oval Office that recorded the conversations therein of to-that-point President Richard Nixon.

And so on, and so forth ... leading to a half-vast array of stooges getting what was coming to them.

Politicians of all stripes had spines in those frightening, fascinating days, and they knew that to open the door to the president’s chamber of secrets meant using That Which Shall Not Be Named only as a last resort ... not a 24-7-365 media-controlled game of King of the Hill.

This all played out over the to-that-point three television networks in the afternoon, which meant that teenage me would arrive home from school to hear my mother swearing at the TV because she was being prevented from finding out whether Alice Matthews and Steve Frame would finally find love on “Another World.”

I tried convincing my mother that the Watergate hearings were just a different kind of soap opera — with heroes and villains, dirty tricks and backdoor deals — but she would have none of it and demanded the television be changed to the mysterious U spot on the dial.

Talk about heading off to another world. The U channel was the home of the sorts of fuzzy, black-and-white, horizontal hold-less programming that could lead your train of thought beyond the straight and narrow track of reality.

But that’s a story for a different day (and not to break the fourth wall, but a different column). For now, there’s a circus surrounding the big orange-tinged elephant in the corner of our lives — as we try to find a moment’s peace in this action.

Good luck to us all.

Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin has a bummer of a birthmark at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com