Godspeed Walter-Say Hi To Tim For Me
Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The most trusted person in America has passed away.

I’m not sure what we’ll do now with no one to trust. Maybe we can put our trust in Matt Lauer. He looks nice enough.

My friend Michelle claims Matt Lauer for her boyfriend. You know.... a celebrity boyfriend. Like mine is, (Duh), Bono but, sometimes I two-time him with Gerard Butler and a few other foreign boys. My sister's boyfriend is George Clooney. Every girl has a celebrity boyfriend.

But, I always say to Michelle, "Matt Lauer? That's just not right!"

A celebrity boyfriend is meant to be bad, rock n roll bad, like all scruff with an accent and earrings in both ears, looking like he just rolled out of bed and slid into his jeans from the night before that are all crumpled in a heap on the floor, riding a bad-ass motorcycle, with a dirty bad-boy smile like he knows what you're thinking about him and he likes it juuuust fine.

Matt Lauer wears pressed pants that are clean and has a crew cut and would probably never ride a motorcycle because it's not very safe.

It's just not right. He's too proper to be celebrity boyfriend material.

But, then again, maybe she's attracted to safe and proper, because safe and proper is not what she has at home.

You see, Michelle is married to Vince Vaughn. Not technically the movie star Vince Vaughn, but a man who is his lookalike body double. Looks like him, is the giant size of him and certainly, certainly acts like him or at least like Vince's character in The Wedding Crashers.

He's a wild man, hysterically funny and a little insane, who towers over the rest of us using his redwood height to lead us all into adventures, a few of those adventures being the stuff of legendary lore. He insists that he and my Hubby are going to Spain next year so that they can get drunk on Spanish wine and run with the bulls in Pamplona. You'll see them on TV. They'll be the ones getting gored by the bulls.

He also hates Facebook and refuses to be my friend. He hates blogs, too. And even though he hates everything I hold dear, I will say out loud on this vile, vile blog that he's a great Hubby to Michelle, a great dad, and a fun, fabulous friend.

So, I guess Michelle's just looking for something different, a non-bull runner.

Still, Matt Lauer? Out of all the men in the world? I'm disqualifying Matt and reassigning her Colin Farrell. That, Mister, is a proper celebrity boyfriend.

Now I've got to think of a celebrity guy for my friend Jane. Jane's into Zac Efron and I say, "Jane, a celebrity boyfriend has to be a MAN." I'm just watching her back, trying to keep Chris Hansen from showing up at her door.

I digress. (A rare thing.) Back to Walter.

I grew up in a household where Walter Cronkite was as much a part of our evening as the Wonder Bread stacked on a plate at the dinner table.

I’m certain he’s up there in the sky, comparing notes with the other big man of journalism, Tim Russert. Their brand of objective, yet hard-hitting journalism is sadly becoming more and more obsolete these days.

Here’s my Walter Cronkite story.

It really doesn’t have much to do with Walter, but since I don’t have any other Walter Cronkite stories, it’ll have to do.

My oldest brother was a bit of a playah in his days. In his early 20’s he juggled a circle of girlfriends. There were only a few things he looked for in a woman back in the day, essentially, they were all buxom and they were all named, “Shirley” we’ll say, for posterity’s sake.

The “Shirley” part was for efficiency only. Having to remember only one name helped him maintain his playah status.

Along with those two qualities, the only other characteristic they all seemed to have in common was the whooshing, empty space between their ears.

These girls were dumb. I mean, duuuummmbbb.

It’s why they fell for my brother and his Vega.

One night, one of the Shirleys came over for dinner. We were grouped around the television waiting for the Wonder Bread to be slapped on the table, watching Walter’s broadcast; my brother and Shirley all wrapped around each other.

This was in the midst of the Iran Hostage Crisis, an event that captured the nation; one of our first personal battles with the terrorism rising up against us in the Middle East.

It was the biggest story in our nation. As looming and present as our economic crisis, the Swine Flu, The Iraqui War and Kim Kardashian’s enormous ass.

Even my five-year-old sister knew that bad people had abducted our citizens and were holding them hostage. Everyone and I mean everyone, watched and waited as the days and years ticked by.

It was Walter who reminded us every night, his American outrage worn on his sleeve, by his unscripted ending to his nightly newscast, “And that’s the way it is, (the date), the 185th day of captivity for the American hostages in Iran.”

444 days. We Americans counted with Walter and held our collective breath.

As Walter ended his broadcast that night proclaiming this to be something like their 310th day of captivity, Shirley said, “Oh, wow. There’s still, like, those hostage people? I thought they went free, like a long time ago.”

There was a shocked silence in the room except for my one fierce, unafraid of anything sister. You could hear her choking on her outrage until she couldn’t hold it in another second, “Are you serious!!!! You can’t be serious! I think you need to leave!”

My brother told the fierce one to shut up as he entwined Shirley around him even more. We all walked out of the room, shocked that there was really a person on this earth that ignorant… in our family room…on our brother’s lap.

Her stupidity is why I didn’t feel so bad about Christmas.

My brother was juggling about three Shirleys at the time and he decided to break up with most of them so he didn’t have to buy them Christmas presents.

Told you he was a playah.

He decided to keep the Shirley of the “I thought the Iran Hostage Crisis was just a cute little mini series like Roots except with brown, shouting people capturing the white, American people.”

I’m sure he chose that Shirley for her stimulating conversation.

He came to me right before Christmas and held up a peach sweater that one of our aunts had gifted him a few years back. “What do you think? I’m gonna give this to Shirley for Christmas. It looks girly, right, being peach and all?”

I expressed in no uncertain terms how cheap and disgusting it was to give his girlfriend, who’d already given him his gift of rockin' speakers for his shit-can of a car, a cast-off boy sweater in return.

He said it would be OK because he was going to get her initials monogrammed on the castoff and If I went with him to the mall and helped him pick out the right monogram colors to make it look like a super classy expensive sweater, he’d buy me an Orange Julius.

I shrugged my shoulders and hopped in his Vega. I didn’t like Shirley enough to hold on to my outrage. It was an Orange Julius we were talking about.

He wrapped up his old peach sweater with Shirely’s initials in an elegant, cursive script and presented it to her on Christmas morning.

She wore it over to our house for Christmas dinner. My siblings and I couldn’t look at each other straight without bursting into delirious laughter. When she spilled a bit of gravy on the sweater during dinner and made this big deal about blotting it carefully, my sister's chocolate milk came out the nose.

Walter Cronkite would have enjoyed every minute of it.

Postscript: My brother grew out of his empty-headed, Shirley stage. He quit being a playah and married an intelligent, up-on-her-current events woman who is not named Shirley. They have lived happily ever after with their two children. I'm happy to say his wife has never received a peach, monogrammed sweater as a Christmas present.

Today's Terrific Download: "Long Ride Home" by Patty Griffin. Patty is in my top ten of favorite singers. I do adore this singer/songwriter with her haunting voice and beautiful songs. "Long Ride Home" is a song of mourning, a spouse of many years realizing a little too late how precious the years had been. Enjoy a little Patty. I hope you like her as much as I do. For Walter.




1 comment:

Michelle said...

Okay, well, who would you follow around the world??? Matt Lauer or Colin Farrell? Matt Lauer, of course, he's been to all those cool places. He's still on the top of my list, trustworthy and reliable, (do they mean the same thing?)But, I guess, Orlando Bloom, (man enough?) could come in a close second and,yes,of course, Vince Vaughn rounding out the top three :).

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