January 29, 2012 by morganmcfinn
copyright by Morgan McFinn
It was just past noon and I was languidly ensconced in a rattan armchair munching a plateful of fried rice and chicken at the Kampot River Bungalow Restaurant. All of a sudden, the level of the said river dipped lower by a noticeable degree which, probably, explains why I noticed it. A very large human specimen of the male variety clambered up the stone steps from the now much shallower river, entered the dining area and looked around for a place to sit. Actually, the said human specimen was of the female variety but, in deference to the fact that women are far more sensitive about their weight than men are, we’ll just pretend it was a man. Men don’t seem to care so much about their weight. Not to suggest that they shouldn’t but, they simply don’t.
The only place available was a rattan sofa adjoining the table at which I sat. He politely asked if she could share the table. I had no objections so he squeezed into the sofa, extended a beefy mitt and said his name was Betty-Sue but, let’s say the name was Billy-Bob. We shook hands and after mine reappeared he claimed to be from Mississippi.
Somehow, that didn’t particularly surprise me. Mississippi has perennially ranked as the poorest of the fifty U.S. states. I spent ten days there some years ago. What did surprise me was that I had never seen so many people living in poverty and dying of obesity. My guess was that this character was around 30 and unlikely to be still above ground at 50. He said she was surprised at how small the Cambodians were. As I recall, Gulliver made a similar observation for a very similar reason while he was tied up in Lilliputia.
We talked briefly about American politics. However, as I am generally considered to be ‘politically incorrect’ most people prefer to change the subject rather quickly. Billy-Bob was no exception so, we moved onto sports. Since Mississippians have no professional sport teams they are free to pick and choose whoever they like. Billy-Bob is baseball nut who loves the New York Yankees…a team with a storied history and twenty-seven World Series titles. Being from Chicago, I have from one of two teams to choose. When I declared my allegiance to the Cubs, good-natured derision ensued. No bother because I’m used to it. There isn’t another professional sports team on the planet that has gone so long without a championship. If you are shameless enough to declare yourself a Cub fan then you might just as well cut to the chase and say, “Hey, I’m a loser…please, take pity on me!”
The last time the Cubs won a championship was in 1908. Many people know that but, what few know is that the Cubs won the World Series in 1907, as well. 1908 is a long time ago. No World Wars, no U.S. personal income tax, no Federal Reserve, no massive and meddling bureaucracies, no self-serving, disingenuous media behemoths and no a lot of good things like Jazz, American musicals, Cole Porter and the one and only Mr. Fred Astaire. In an attempt to make the list more relevant let’s add Johnny Carson and the Beatles. And, that’s as relevant as I can get without cringing.
To really put it perspective, consider this…the last time the Cubs won a championship, the iceberg that sunk the Titanic wouldn’t have been big enough to make a decent scotch on the rocks.
I was midway through this ramble when Billy-Bob opted to change the subject once again. We talked about the weather and that got me through the rest of my meal. I think God created weather so people would always have something to talk about without annoying each other.