Thoughts while shaving:
Isn't it marvelous the way some cops can keep their senses of humor and humanity?
In the old days, a lot of law enforcers were clones of Dragnet's Jack Webb. Just the facts, ma'am, and if you're hoping I'll smile, or hold a civilized, polysyllabic conversation with you, don't hope too hard.
There's still a "recorded announcement" quality to the approach of many cops. Get stopped for speeding sometime, and listen to the way you're asked for your license and registration. You'll see what I mean.
But in many other situations, the police are surprisingly spontaneous, even (glory be) friendly. Take, for example, a scene I witnessed the other day in front of the White House.
It starred a guy who pickets the northwest gate all the time. He claims to have been cheated out of his veteran's benefits. He wears three sports jackets at once when it's 85 degrees. He mumbles to himself a lot. Tourists take his picture and snicker at him, and he doesn't seem to notice, or care.
But the other day, he had hurt his leg somehow. Not only did that put a serious crimp in his picketing, but it was about to make it difficult for him to get down to the Gospel Mission, 15 blocks away, for lunch. Bus fare for a guy like this is a major expenditure.
Recognizing that, the guard at the White House gate gave the man 65 cents. Without being asked. Just handed it over, and said, "Here, go get yourself some lunch."
The demonstrator was stunned. He looked at the cop with a gaze that said, "There's something you're not telling me."
So the cop said: "I'm not trying to fool you. Here. From me to you. I'm not going to hurt you. Just take it." And the man did.
Television is trying to drive me crazy again.
Once more, the local channels are spewing forth a series of ads for their news staffs. Once more, they're missing the point about as badly as one can miss it.
We're a Team!, shout the ads. We Like Each Other! We Smile! We Hug Little Kids and Walk Around a Newsroom With Our Ties Pulled Down, Looking Busy!
I couldn't care less if you're a team, or if you like each other. In fact, I find it very difficult to believe that team spirit can exist in a medium as transient as television. Many of you weren't within 1,000 miles of each other six months ago. Many of you won't be six months from now. So don't insult my intelligence by implying that you all grew up together.
I'm delighted that you hug little kids. But what does that have to do with reporting the news? And I agree that walking around a newsroom makes for interesting film footage. But most of the news I know is gathered and written at a desk, or out in the field.
Just give me the news, please, without trying to persuade me that you're the salts of the earth. You're more likely to succeed at the former than at the latter.
An embassy family lives down the block from us. They keep pretty much to themselves. The one thing they do in public is to have their blue Lincoln Continental waxed.
In fact, as best I can tell, they have it done every day. When I head to the bus stop early in the morning, it's often still dark. But a man in a chauffeur's uniform is out there, rain or shine, with a bottle of Johnson's, going at it, with much elbow grease.
Meanwhile, our 10-week-old Detroitmobile is already a disgrace.
Its shiny paint job is turning dull with mud spatters. Its interior is a collage of coffee stains, baby books and maps that have been stepped on 20 times.
The glove compartment contains the registration. For every year and every car since 1973.
The trunk contains our baseball gloves, a blanket that was last cleaned in 1965 and a jug of windshield washer fluid that rattles around every time you step on the brake. It's only a matter of time before it breaks and spills blue glop all over the place.
We might become a great nation again. But not before we learn how to keep up with the foreign Joneses by using American Johnson's.