T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
an irreligious blog
with egalitarian and individualist tendencies!

On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!

Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Soyez bienvenus!

Intelligent comments are always welcome!
Showing posts with label Good to know. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Good to know. Show all posts

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Will Smith's Illogical Logic - by Hénock Gugsa

Will Smith

Will Smith's Illogical Logic 
[on "Fault vs. Responsibility"]
- by Hénock Gugsa -
     Recently, thru a video, Will Smith had the following to say about  fault and responsibility:
     << I was just having a debate with a friend of mine, and we got stuck on the difference between fault and responsibility.  She kept talking about how something was "somebody's fault".   I was like it don't matter whose fault it is that something is broken, if it's your responsibility to fix it.  For example, it's not somebody's fault if their father was an abusive alcoholic, but it's for damn sure  their responsibility to figure out how they're gonna deal with those traumas and how they're gonna make a life out of it.  It's not your fault if your partner cheated and ruined your marriage; but it is for damn sure your responsibility to figure out how to take that pain and how to overcome that and build a happy life for yourself.  Fault and responsibility don't go together.   It sucks, but they don't.  When something is somebody's fault, we want them to suffer, we want them punished, we want them to pay.  We want it to be their responsibility to fix it, but that's not how it works, especially when it's your heart.  Your heart, your life, your happiness is your responsibility and your responsibility alone.  As long as we're pointing the finger and stuck on whose fault something is, we're jammed and trapped into "victim's mode".  When you're in victim mode, you'stuck in suffering.  The road to power is in taking responsibility.  Your heart, your life, your happiness is your responsibility and your responsibility alone!>>
My reaction: ===>
     I hope that dd not come from Scientology ... it surely does not sound charitable because he is not exactly talking about forgiveness or Love.  On the contrary, I only hear a tone of harshness and reverse-blaming in this message.  There is no sympathy or empathy for the "abused".  Instead that person is being berated to suck it up and move forward.  There is no specific help offered on how to deal with the bad experience.  It could at least have been suggested that the first step to healing is self-forgiveness!  Moreover, it is implied that there is no fault at all.  What if the damage were a fatal one? Telling the dead person to take responsibility would really be a silly proposition then, wouldn't it?! 
         Another point I want to raise ---  I wonder where Will Smith stands on "Black Lives Matter".  Does he consider it just a "blame-the-whites" movement ... or ... a responsive "sick-of-being-victims-organization-that-seeks-retribution"?  I suspect that he is more concerned with the individual (the self) than the group (the community).  I also do not see enough seriousness or gravitas in him to consider him a selfless, concerned citizen.  These are just my views and impressions of the person ... I could be wrong of-course.  But these are matters where you cannot separate the man from the things he says.  Strangely, Will Smith protests (takes matter into his own hand, becomes "responsible"?) when blacks are not adequately represented for movie Awards in a single year and he and his wife boycott the awards ceremony.  Big deal!
Punching the tiger doll !

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A Little Comic Relief - from "wwdtm"(NPR)

A Little Comic Relief - from "wwdtm"
("wait wait don't tell me!" - NPR) 
/// ~~~ /// *** ///

Friday, February 2, 2018

Oil Lawyer for C E A - by Hénock Gugsa

Oil Lawyer for Chief Environment Attorney 
- by Hénock Gugsa -
~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~

     Someone on Facebook posted a link on the latest news of a new Justice Department  appointee titled:  "Trump Names BP Oil Spill Lawyer, and Climate Policy Foe as Top DOJ Environment Attorney".*
     The general reaction was mostly negative and indignant.  But one lone proponent had this to say:
     "Ok so .....he picks an attorney who has litigated VERY well and knows all the tricks of the trade to avoid environmental regulation and the inner workings. A lawyer who did his best job for his clients and did it WELL. Sounds like a pretty decent choice in that respect....there are always more to it....but get your blood pressure boiling...our system is MEANT to allow for those who have NOT served in government to be appointed to offices to avoid group think. Bottom line the average joe left leaning American likely is not out to make America a communist Soviet, and the right are not Nazi fascists. I challenge you to stop looking at all we have that divides us ideologically and start looking at what we share. Both sides will agree that despite our differences in ideological ways to get there truly our republic is better served in how we find common cause. Both parties came together and have throughout history. So I choose to have faith in the system and voice my resolution at the ballot box. Otherwise I'll be hanging with my five year old."

 * The appointee's name is Jeffrey Bossert Clark ... and the link is:

     My Response: 
     Obviously, in the new cabinet, there is a NEW "group-think" ... and it is well-oiled (no pun) and there is no timidity, no conscience, and not even an ounce of self-consciousness. The members and their leader can straddle issues, and support both sides against the middle no matter what or who they are. Naturally, these days, so-called "devil's advocates" thrive and muddy the waters without rein!

James Stewart knocks down John Wayne

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Magical Tale (Part 3) - by Hénock Gugsa

Hénock in Minneapolis, August 2017
A Magical Tale *
by Hénock Gugsa
--- Part 3 of 3---
Like a magician, Eve dove into her big purse and brought out a checkered table cloth and studiously laid it down on the ground in front of Zach.  Then she opened up the lunch bags that she'd picked up at the corner deli.  The ground beneath her was firm and even.  This was indeed a nice park, and there were hardly any crawly critters in sight.  She handed Zach his favorite sub which consisted of fresh Italian bread, mortadella, big hunks of muenster cheese, cucumber slices, and a generous layering of mustard.  There was potato chips to munch on, and bottled water to wash everything down.  Eve's lunch was going to be a boring vegetarian's "salad delight" ... and that was that!  For dessert, they were going to have a banana each. 
As they sat eating, Zach began to hum the tune he'd heard in his dream.  It was all kind of eerie and unsettling.  No surprise then that Eve didn't much care for it, and her displeasure was quite visible.  So, Zach stopped and concentrated instead on his sandwich.  He wanted to get done with lunch and pick up where he left off on his little tale.  But sweet Eve was in no hurry, she always ate slowly.  She never hurried about anything in her life, ever!  But she made up for that oddity with her good manners, she always apologized and earnestly too.  Eventually they were both done eating ...  and while Zach disposed of the garbage, Eve put her tablecloth back into her magic purse. 
- "What do you think, Eve, are we going to live to a ripe old age, in good health and comfort?"
- "Maybe ... if you're good and sweet as you are right now.  If you change, get grumpy, or get greedy, and get angry like the generation before us ... why then I won't even stand to be near you let alone be your friend and lover."
- "Yeah, I know.  And I'd be miserable without you.  And I'm really afraid where we're headed right now.  It is beginning to look like there won't be much of a world left for us."
- "Why, babe?  What makes you say that?"
Zach sighed.  He was beginning to fall into a rueful and melancholic mood.  He had to be careful lest he wallow too deep in such dark waters of the mind.  Still and all, he was happy that his sweetheart was there to cheer him up and bring the sunshine in.
- "I'm worried and we both know the old timers are not leaving this world the way they found it.  They're leaving us a horrendous mess, and they don't even care," he said.
- "But we have magic on our side ... and it is a special, secret magic.  We have to be careful and keep it hidden from them. However, we among ourselves can spread it around ... kinda like by osmosis!  You know what I'm talking about, right?"
- "Of-course ... yeah, yeah, yeah!  We're not so hung-up on that "individualism" b.s. like they are.  They have nothing really to teach us except their mistakes.  More and more, and day by day, we are seeing how morally bankrupt they are. "
As Eve's hands softly caressed Zach's face, he could not help but smile warmly at her.  She loved his brown eyes, and he loved her dimples --- It thus seemed natural that Eve and Zach continue gazing at each other longingly ... even while they discussed the world's weighty issues!
- "What is the first thing to come out of our magic bag?" Eve asked.
- "A new language, a secret language that only we young people can understand and speak, right?"
- "Right! .... And magic number two is exclusive group-think between ourselves.  We have to shut the old people out of our lives."
- "We will be pioneers, establish our own island communities.  You and I, we're in our early twenties.  We'll be a unit and join or better yet start a commune.  Yeah, Eve, we can do that!  We should start our own EveZach pronto!" 
"Yeah!" She laughed. 
Zach was momentarily lost in thought again. He looked inquiringly at Eve, and she was gleefully smiling and nodding at him.
- "Yes, yes, I just now heard your thoughts inside my head," she said, "We are indeed telepathic already!"
- "S w e e t !  But this is new territory for us humans.  We have to tread lightly."
- "Yes, but don't you see the bigger picture?  With telepathy, you have to be careful with your thoughts ... 'cause your thoughts will control your actions and behavior as well as those of our group." 
Zach's face lit up.
- "This is fantastic.  This is magical.  With this power, we'll be able to build a new society unlike any that came before.  All the old problems of society like distrust, fear, lying, and cheating will die out.  Crimes, large or small, will be eliminated to a great extent. Utopia, here we come!"
================================ The End.
* Inspired by a dream I had on 11/15/17 

Friday, January 26, 2018

A Magical Tale (Part 2) - by Hénock Gugsa

Hénock in Minneapolis, 2014
A Magical Tale *
by Hénock Gugsa

 --- Part 2 of 3 ---
Zach looked at his left foot and willed it to take one step forward, then he looked at his right foot and gave the same order.  As he repeated these actions a few more times, he realized he was no longer stationary.  He continued to walk at a good pace and he was soon in pursuit of the pesky little girls.  He had to rescue them from their folly.  As he was hurrying along, an angry witch with the face of a fox appeared before him and started to taunt him with insults and curses.  She was trying to impede him from reaching the children.  Zach closed his eyes firmly and covered his ears with his hands, he kicked the dirt in front of him and spat.  When he opened his eyes, he saw that the witch with the fox head was now gone.  Zach smiled and resumed his furtive and determined pursuit of the children.
  ---  Just then, his shoulders were being shaken ... at first gently, and then more forcibly ....
"Zach, Zach ... wake up wake up! ... ZACH !"
 A pair of gentle hands were pressing and shaking his shoulders, he was being wakened from a deep slumber by Eve.  As his eyes gradually cracked open, he became aware that he was at the City Park.  Apparently, he had drifted off into a magical dream world while sitting with his back buttressed against a young oak tree. 
Eve apologized for being late and asked if he was okay.  She was concerned because he had a strange, far-away look on his face.  He was now visibly starting to get irritated ... he was feverishly trying to concentrate and remember every detail of the dream from which he just  got yanked.  Indelicately, he put an index finger to his lips to indicate that he needed a quiet moment.  As soon as he felt sure that the memory of the dream was not evaporating, he smiled and hugged Eve.  Then he told her his dream with every detail in tact.
- "What do you think it all meant?" Zach asked.
- "Why it is all so obvious, isn't it?" Eve replied.
She continued, "The whole thing is just one big metaphor for the current state of affairs.  Almost everything in your dream can be ascribed to things, to people, and to events in our life."
Zach looked mystified.  He wasn't sure what Eve was talking about.  It was clearly up to her to clear the cobwebs off his brain.  That seemed to be the norm these days ... men were getting doltier and doltier by the day!
 "Think about it ... you being stuck, having a lead foot.  That's where we are politically today, ... stuck, mired, so to speak, and in a hopeless situation.  And the three little girls wearing three different colored blouses ... blue is for fear, green for greed, and red is definitely for hate.  Fear, Greed, and Hate! .... And we know who the fat old man with yellow hair is, don't we?  And the witch is, of-course, snarky old FOX-News!"
 - "So, Eve, what do you think?  Do we stand any chance of extricating ourselves from this mess?"
- "Well sure, Zach darling.  All you need is smarts ... and we can provide you that too!"   She laughed.                                      

 [... to be continued! ...]

*Inspired by a dream I had on 11/15/17

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Magical Tale - by Hénock Gugsa

Hénock in Duluth in 2008
A Magical Tale *
by Hénock Gugsa

--- Part 1 of 3 ---
Zach was not sure if he was in some sort of reverie where, out of the blue, he found himself in the middle of a strange forest.  The surroundings were dark, ominous, and unfriendly.  Not too far away, and in a starkly gray panorama lay a sort of a gorge, almost a canyon --- barren, craggy, and totally devoid of life except for a tall, fat, old man.  He was waving his arms feverishly from the center of the canyon, and the tuft of yellow hair on his head was billowing wildly in rhythm to his arms.

Then came the sound of determined feet as they crushed and crumpled the fallen leaves on the forest's uneven ground.  The unsettling rustle seemed to be headed in Zach's direction.  At that moment, he was suddenly shaken loose from his frozen state.  He was now sharply alert and his ears could now make out a choir of small angelic voices singing arcane nursery songs.

Zach looked around him, but saw nothing.  He was at his usual spot in the park ... and he had not felt the need to walk around and explore the surrounding forest.  But now as the voices seemed to draw near him, his feet which moments before had seemed non-existent had miraculously materialized.  He could feel them pulsating although he wasn't yet sure he was their master.  His toes wriggled as if they had lives of their own, and his knees started to bend and then to flex .  Zach felt alive!

The singers appeared as if from empty air and floated in front of him ... a strange sight indeed!  Three little girls were dragging a little boy behind them. His hands were tied in front of him with a  coarse rope.  The children, including the boy, were all about the same age ... not older than six or seven.  Each girl had on a different color blouse, ... the leader wore blue, the second girl had on green, and the third girl wore red.  As for the little boy, he was nondescript as to clothing or general appearance, but he looked distressed and helpless.

Now face to face with Zach, the little girls began to sing a mocking song ...

     Zachary, Zachary ... where's your sanctuary?
     You're stuck, you can't move, you got feet o' lead
     What to do, what to do, poor boy without hope
     The year went by quickly, we're back to January!
     You can't jump, and you can't fall on your head
     'N to get over that rock, you gonna need some rope!

     Zachary, Zachary ... where's your sanctuary? ...

The little girls sang and cackled as they dragged the little boy along.  Soon they tired of him, dumped him in front of Zach, and scampered off ... away toward the bleak canyon and the old, fat man still waving his arms.

Zach looked at the disheveled little boy closely, and as he did so, the little boy started to dissolve into thin air right there in front of him.  But as the child started to vanish, he became recognizable to Zach.  That was Zach himself some fifteen years back!

[... to be continued ....]

  "So, then, what next?!"
*Inspired by a dream I had on 11/15/17

Monday, January 22, 2018

Thoughts on Traveling - by Hénock Gugsa

Thoughts on Traveling
[and My Status as a U.S. Citizen]
by Hénock Gugsa
~~~~~~~ **** ~~~~~~~
In less than a month, I'll be traveling to Ethiopia for the second time in the last 37 years.  And if you should know, I've been a U.S. citizen for a quarter century.  However, that has not exempted me from receiving the special "treatment" coming-and-going ...  and you can safely infer that there's absolutely no way I'll turn into a Patrick Henry in front of ICE.  I have to grin and bear it all ... and say to myself, "The terrorists have indeed won!"

Indeed!  The last time when I arrived at MSP's International gate, a surly-looking ICE man (?!) made a bee-line toward me and another brown-skinned person while we were still standing in line to go to the Arrivals' processing window.  This agent asked to see our passports and inquired where we were coming from.  Meanwhile, he never even glanced at the young couple behind me who were white.  The questions this man asked were asked of me two more times on the way to retrieving my luggage.  I have to take these indignities in stride as I would many things.  What was that thing I read somewhere that said: If you shout at the devil, do you think he will shout back at you!
Happy trails! 

The ever-wonderful Lee Marvin !

Thursday, January 18, 2018

America, "the Perilous Fight" - by Hénock Gugsa

America, "the Perilous Fight"
by Hénock Gugsa
====== ~~~ ======
      A Facebook friend who lives in a tiny border community in Arizona recently sent me the following message ... with an accompanying video which I have included here ...
           <<  We see the deaths every week here, finding old remains and average about one new death per week, not to mention finding immigrants continually begging for succor sometimes a week or more without food, days without water .... [Unfortunately, they're considered] just mojados, wets.  They aren't going to elicit sympathy or interest.  Trump's outrages and that sensationalism captures the attention ....>>
      I have no words to descibe the disgust, the pain, and the total frustration I feel about America's current condition and its bleak future if things continue the way they are or grow worse.
      This beloved country has had its ups and downs, and its resiliency has of-course been exceptional.  Adversities and challenges have been met with courage, grit, and optimism.  Enemies from within and from without have continually failed to bring America to its knees.  This nation has been down as often as it's been up ... and always, there have been real heroes that have arrived just in time before the fall into a dark abyss.  To name the the three greatest ones, America was blessed with Washington, Lincoln, and FDR.  Often, America's heroes were just the people needed to mop up the disasters of previous, incompetent and unfit leaders and the parties they headed.  Recently, we had Obama pulling us out of the calamitous eight years of George W Bush's presidency.
      But alas, now, we are in the clutches of what Philip Roth describes as "[an] ominously ridiculous commedia dell’arte figure of the boastful buffoon ... a massive fraud, the evil sum of his deficiencies, devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac."
     True, in the Fifties, reference and blame for the world's problems was cast on "The Ugly American" as described in the excellent 1958 political novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer.  America got tangled up in the Korean War in the Early Fifties.  Then in the Sixties thru the mid-Seventies, Vietnam was the quagmire of choice.  Fast-forward to 2003 and up-to the current day, the "war against terrorism" is being waged full blast in the Middle East. 
     These wars and foreign adventures naturally affected the domestic political policies and direction of where the nation has been headed.
     Presently, or more specifically since late January of 2017, our country has been steered wrong on all aspects of Government.  The three-headed monster of
Greed-Fear-Hate is in charge.  A con-man extraordinaire with no plans but those of lining his pockets as well as those of his family, and his wealthy friends is shamelessly gutting our lives, our sense of security, and our hopes.
      We are in a period not too unlike that of Germany under Hitler.  Corporate plutocrats were buttressing the regime then, and they are doing the same thing now in Trump's America.  Truth is being dismantled, and everywhere corruption and injustice grow roots and thrive.  America needs to shirk off the current inertia and stand up to tyranny and evil everywhere.  In this respect, the Women's Resistance Movement has been a godsend and it should be replicated in every walk of life.  We should all rise up as one and cast off this yoke of misery and doom, and we can do it because we are optimists!

Monday, January 15, 2018

J & K Heinz's Wedding and the mock Divorce! - by TPO

This is it! .... From 2009... the actual wedding of

Jill Peterson & Kevin Heinz

and the satirical mock divorce video
by indigoprod actors   ...

Monday, January 1, 2018

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ending 2017 ! - by Hénock Gugsa

Ending 2017 on an appropriate note! 
- by Hénock Gugsa -
  "The Sound of Silence" - by Disturbed

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Annum [ a year! ] ~ by Flora Willis Watson

Winter night
Annum [ a year! ]
~ Flora Willis Watson ~
January, falls the snow,
February, cold winds blow,
In March, peep out the early flowers,
And April comes with sunny showers.
In May, the roses bloom so gay,
In June, the farmer mows his hay,
In July, brightly shines the sun,
In August, harvest is begun.
September turns the green leaves brown,
October winds then shake them down,
November fills with bleak and smear,
December comes and ends the year.
"Time Concept"

Friday, December 22, 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

America's Stephen Crane - by Hénock Gugsa

America's Stephen Crane 
 A most underappreciated writer and poet 
- by Hénock Gugsa -
~~~~~~~~~~ *** ~~~~~~~~~~

[Click on image to enlarge.]

Monday, December 18, 2017

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Jonathan Winters' Quips - by Hénock Gugsa

Jonathan Winters' Quips 
- by Hénock Gugsa -

     Hats off to all zany people in the world!
 [Please click inside the box to enlarge. ]

"It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World"

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Je sais" - by Jean Gabin

Jean Gabin (1904-1976)

-"Je sais"-
 by Jean Gabin 
~~~~ //~~~~
To people who say "I know" to everything ...
Jean Gabin's response:
Je sais ... Je sais qu'on sait jamais!
I know ... I know that we don't know anything ever!


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Baxter and Dreyfuss - by Hénock Gugsa

Jack Lemmon and Jack Kruschen ("The Apartment")

Baxter and Dreyfuss 
~ by Hénock Gugsa ~

Dr. Dreyfuss: Why don't you grow up, Baxter? Be a mensch!
                          You know what that means?

Baxter: I'm not sure.
Dr. Dreyfuss: A mensch -- a human being!
Source: "The Apartment" (1960) ...
with Jack Lemmon as Baxter,
and Jack Kruschen as Dr. Dreyfuss

Jack Kruschen (wearing glasses) speaking to Jack Lemmon

Portraits in Contrast - by Hénock Gugsa

Portraits in Contrast !
- by Hénock Gugsa -

Monday, December 11, 2017

Stuck in a Bathroom! - by TPO

Stuck in a Bathroom! 
- by TPO -
[Excerpted from "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth]
pp. 257-259
     It was a small bathroom, exactly like ours, quite confining, the door next to a toilet and the toilet abutting a sink and a bathtub squeezed in beside that.  I pulled on the door but it didn't open.  At home I would just have closed it behind me, but at the Wishnows' I locked it --- something I'd never done before in my life.  I locked it and I peed and I flushed and I washed my hands and, because I didn't want to touch their towel, wiped them dry on the back of the legs of my corduroys --- everything was fine, and then I went to exit the bathroom, and I couldn't undo the lock above the doorknob.  I could turn it a little ways but then it would catch and stop.  I didn't bang on the door or rattle the doorknob, I just kept trying to turn the lock as quietly as I could.  But it wouldn't go, and so I sat back down on the toilet and I thought that maybe it would somehow work itself out.  I sat there for a while but then I got lonesome and stood up and tried the lock again.  It still wouldn't uncatch, and I started to knock lightly on the door, and Mrs. Wishnow came and said, "Oh, the lock on the door does that sometimes.  You have to turn it like this."  She explained how to do it, but I still couldn't get it open, and so very calmly she said, "No, Philip, while you're turning it you have to pull it back," and thought I tried to do as she told me it still didn't work.  "Dear," she sad, "turn and back simultaneously --- turn and back at the same time."  "Which way is back?" I said.  "Back.  Back towards the wall."  "Oh, the wall.  Okay," I said, but I couldn't get it right no matter what I did.  "It won't work," I said, and I began to sweat, and then I heard Seldon.  "Philip?  It's Seldon.  Why did you lock it?  We weren't going to come in."  "I didn't say you were," I said.  "Then why did you lock it?"  "I don't know," I said.  "Do you think we should call the fire department, Mom?  They can get him out with a ladder."  "No, no, no," Mrs. Wishnow said.  "Come on, Philip," Seldon said, "it's not that hard."  "But it is.  It's stuck."  "How's he gonna get out, Ma?"  "Seldon, be still, Philip?"  "Yes."  "Are you all right?"  "Well, it's hot in here.  It's getting hot."  "Take a glass of water, dear.  There's a glass in the medicine cabinet.  Take a glass of water and slowly drink it and you'll be fine."  "Okay."  But the glass had something slimy at the bottom, and though I took it out, I only pretended to drink from it and drank instead from my cupped hands.  "Ma," Seldon said, "what's he doing wrong?  Philip, what are you doing wrong?"  "How do I know?" I said.  "Mrs. Wishnow? Mrs Wishnow?"  "Yes, dear"  "It's getting too hot in here.  I'm really starting to sweat."  "Then open the window.  Open the little window in the shower.  Are you tall enough to do that?"  "I think so."  I took off my shoes and stepped into the shower in just my socks, and standing on my tiptoes I was able to reach the window --- a smallish window of pebbled glass that looked onto the alleyway --- but when I tried to open it, it was stuck too.  "It won't go," I sai.  "Bang it a little, dear.  Bang the frame at the bottom, but not too hard, and I'm sure it will open."  I did as she told me but couldn't get it to budge.  By now my shirt was saturated with sweat, and so I angled myself to be able to give the window a good strong shove upwards, but in turning I must have struck the shower handle with my elbow because suddenly the water was on.  "Oh, no!" I said, and ice-cold water was poring over my head and down the back of my shirt, and I jumped out of the shower and onto the tile floor.  "What happened, dear?"  "The shower started."  "How?" Seldon said.  "How could the shower start?"  "I don't know."  "Are you very wet?" she asked me.  "Sort of."  "Get a towel," she told me.  "Get a towel out of the closet.  The towels are in the closet."  We had the same narrow little bathroom closet directly upstairs over the Wishnow's bathroom closet, and we used it for towels too, but when I went to open theirs, I couldn't --- the door was stuck.  I yanked but it wouldn't open.  "What is it now, Philip?"  "Nothing."  I couldn't tell her.  "Did you take a towel?"  "Yes."  "Then dry yourself off.  And you must stay calm.  Ther's nothing to worry about."  "I am calm."  "Sit down.  Sit down and dry yourself off."  Iwas soaking wet, and now the floor was getting wet, and I sat on the toilet seat, and that's when I saw a bathroom for what it is --- the upper end of a sewer --- and that's when I felt the tears begin to well up.  "Don't worry," Seldon called in to me, "your mother and father will be home soon."  "But how will I get out?"  And all at once the door was open --- and there was Seldon and behind him his mother.  "How'd you do that?" I said.  "I opened the door," he said.  "But how?" He shrugged. "I pushed.  I just pushed.  It was open all the time."  And that was when I began to bawl and Mrs. Wishnow took me in her arms and said, "That's okay.  Things like this happen.  They can happen to anyone."  "It was open, Ma," Seldon said to her.  "Shhh," she told him.  "Shhh.  It doesn't matter," and then she came into the bathroom and turned off the cold water --- which was still streaming into the tub --- and without any problelm she opened the closet door and took out a fresh towel and began to dry my hair and my face and my neck, all the while gently telling me that it didn't matter and that these things happened to people all the time.

     But that was long before everything else went wrong.
"The Plot Against America" - by Philip Roth
Copyright © 2004 Philip Roth
Houghton Mifflin Company