Standing on the corner isn’t what it used to be.
Lunch with my pal, T., a man my age from South Carolina. He was with his son, a young man of 29, whose occupation is extremely unclear. I picked them up at the Beverly Hills Hotel after my 12 Step meeting. The son was obviously in some kind of funk and said barely a word as he slid into my ancient Cadillac. I had suggested La Scala, a formerly superb Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills. It has some outdoor seating and the day was fine, so it seemed like a good choice.
I parked my jalopy in a huge underground lot and we went to the sidewalk and walked towards the restaurant. As we three sidled along, a simply beautiful woman in a short skirt and a T shirt walked by on the other side of the street.
“That is a gorgeous girl,” said my friend, the 71-year-old retiree as he looked appreciatively at the woman, some fifty feet away, or so.
The son looked at his father in alarm, almost in shock. “Shhhh!,” he commanded. “You can’t talk like that. You can get us all in trouble.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked him. I was laughing, on the assumption that he was leading into some kind of joke.
“You can’t talk about women’s looks,” the son said sharply. “Haven’t you seen what happened to Trump? Besides, what are you going to do next? Use the n-word?”
The father looked as if he had been forced to put up with this nonsense for years but was still upset about it.
“Look,” I pointed out to the young man. “We’re the only people on this side of the block. There’s not one person on our side of the street. Not a single one. No one heard your father.”
“I heard him,” said the son.
“Is this some kind of gag?” I asked him. “Is it illegal now to say a woman is beautiful? And in what possible way is it like calling someone a degrading racial slur? What is the possible point of similarity?”
“There could be someone with a security camera you don’t see,” the son muttered.
“So f–king what?” I demanded. “What’s wrong with calling a woman beautiful? When did that become shameful?”
“It’s beauty discrimination,” he insisted with the earnestness of idiotic youth.
“The whole world is based on beauty discrimination,” I replied, getting steadily more furious. “Have you ever been to a movie? Have you ever been to a magazine stand and seen what’s on the covers of the magazines for women? Have you ever seen the ads for perfume or jewelry or cosmetics? This is a basic of life.”
“It makes women who aren’t beautiful feel bad,” he hissed.
“That’s just the nature of life,” I said. “To go against it is to go against human life and human values.”
“Those are the values of old white men.”
“I think they’re the values of young white men and young black men and young Asian men, too,” I said. “The pretty girls get the attention. That’s just the way it’s always been. It’s hard wired into the human psyche.”
“It’s old white men brainwashing the whole world,” the young man said.
“No, it’s always been this way, in every culture,” I said. “If you’re going to try to change it, you’re going to have some kind of nightmare Orwellian Thought Police state.”
“I don’t know what those fancy words mean,” he said. “I guess that’s your old white man’s way of showing off.”
I stopped and suddenly had revelation. “You’re kidding me, right?” I asked him. “You’re jacking me up with all of this insanity just to see an old white man get upset.”
The son did not answer. He just took out his sun glasses, put them on over his very bloodshot blue eyes, glared at his father and me, and walked ahead of us to La Scala.
“I think I’ll sit inside,” he said. “I don’t feel like eating with you two.”
“Good,” I said. “That way we can plan how to oppress you brave heroes of the revolution.”
“He’s like this all of the time,” said his father, whom I have known for decades. “This is what they learn in school.”
“Wow,” I said. “The Hitler Youth. The Young Pioneers.”
“He actually threatens to go to the newspaper if he hears me saying anything he considers non-PC. He’s going to inform on his parents for being ‘racists’ for noticing that far more blacks than whites are in prison for violent crimes relative to their population. He’s going to TMZ if he hears me talk about what a great figure someone on TV has.”
“Why would the media care? You’re an accountant, not a politician.”
“I know,” my friend answered with a rueful laugh. “He’s deluded in a lot of ways.”
“I think I’ll call my assistant to drive you two back to the hotel,” I said. “I don’t want to see him again today. I’ll see him in ten years if I’m still alive.”
“This is the way it’s going,” he said. “It’s so many of the young people. So many professors. All of the mainstream media. No more freedom of speech. No more freedom of thought. No more human nature. They started by shaming us about racism, and that was a real thing, and then they were off and running to the races about sexism and beauty discrimination and other nonsense. Rush calls them ‘Feminazis’ and he’s totally right.
“We’re in a big war. Separate the blacks from the whites. Separate children from parents. Separate the workers from the leeches. Separate men from women. Separate the straights and the gays. Then the ultimate. Separate us from ourselves. That’s why the Trump thing was so bad. It was a way to make men feel like criminals for being men.”
“But he’s a pig,” I said. “He is awful.”
“Yes, but he’s a real person,” said my pal. “And now you’re not allowed to be a real person. You have to be a creature of the women’s movement and the New York Times or else you go to prison. This is not a free country anymore.”
“It started with the war against racism,” I mused. “Sad but true. That was a holy war.”
“And so was the workers getting a share of the pie and the ethnic Germans all being united in one country,” said my friend. “And it turned into fiery hell.”
I didn’t say anything. My friend finished his veal and said, “Let’s just you and me go back to the Beverly Hills and sit in a corner of the Polo Lounge and look at the call girls at the bar. My son can find his way back. An old white man got him a Platinum card. Let’s not even say good-bye.”
I went home and went swimming instead. I felt dirty and wanted to be baptized in my warm blue pool.
What the hell happened to our America? Treason at the universities. That’s just a start.
God help us. I notice I end too many columns that way these days. Not good. I think I’ll watch Casablanca again. In those days men wore hats. They all smoked. Maybe that’s it. Maybe we’re suffering from a national withdrawal from nicotine. I’ll feel better when I look in my Julie’s face for a while. She’s my dog. She can’t talk. She can’t read. Good dog.
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