Friday, December 11, 2015

Journalistic License

My mother believes that newspapers in California do not ever, as in never, ever, print any news about the Pope. She believes this the way creationists believe in the 7 literal days, the way children believe in the tooth fairy, the way NRA nutcases believe in the right to bear arms, lots and lots of extremely lethal arms: that is, irrationally and in the face of all science and evidence, because it suits one’s agenda. That is the way my mother believes and insists that California newspapers are entirely remiss in this important news function. She has forgotten the names of several of her grandchildren and the words fence and English muffins, and even pomegranates, but this fact of journalistic dereliction she clings to.

Contradict this assertion at your peril. I know this, as they say, the hard way.

Now that my mother is living at the Little Red House in our backyard, we thought that it would make sense to share our New York Times subscription with her. We would thereby save a few trees and save a few trips to the DPW recycling bins.

So on any given day, when my mother is here for a meal, for a visit, or a dose of filial obeisance, we have variations on this conversation:
MOM: Have you read this yet? I’d like to take it to my house and read it. I want to cut out this article about the Pope, and send to my friend Joan. The newspapers in California never write about the Pope, so she makes copies of the articles I send her and gives them to all her friends. She is a nun. All her nun friends are grateful, because the papers there never write anything about the Pope. Have you read the paper?
ME: Not yet. I will bring it to you as soon as I have.
MOM (scanning the headlines): Have you read this paper yet?
ME: No, Mom, I haven’t. Not yet.
MOM: Well I would like it when you have, because I always cut out articles about the Pope for my friend Joan.
ME: I know.
MOM: So have you read the paper yet?
ME: Not yet. But I will later. What is the Pope up to now?
MOM: I have to read about the Pope and then I will cut it out and send it to Joan. Have you read the paper yet?
ME: Not since you last asked me. (I know I shouldn’t get testy; such testiness flouts the principles of “Habilitation”, but the testiness is coming over me, like a fucking tsunami.)
MOM: I haven’t asked you before.
ME: No, of course not. (I am chagrinned, ashamed.) You take it home with you. I can read it online.
MOM: Oh no. I don’t want to take your paper. I used to have my own paper, at the Orchard. I don’t want to take your paper before you have read it.
ME: Please take the paper, Mom.
MOM: Have you read it yet?

(I can read it online.)

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