Parents seek distractions, detox to combat fiscal cliff angst

Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

“What in the world are they thinking?” That’s the question folks are asking in diners, in barbershops and around watercoolers across the country. This is quickly followed by, “And what on earth are they drinking?”

According to wire reports, this has sparked a rash of mug flinging, head banging and the overthrowing of said coolers, much to the dismay of restaurateurs, barbers and office managers. As a frustrated barber from Biloxi, one Billy Bob, put it, “You cain’t give no decent haircut when a feller sets to bangin’ his noggin. You ask me, there’s been a whole lot of ‘cuss’ in the ‘discuss’ around here. If you know what I mean.”

I do know what he means. Not that I’m the one cussing, mind you, but I’ll admit to a dark and terrible urge to fling a mug myself, followed by some head banging.

I’m referring to the so-called fiscal cliff and our economic crisis. If the American economy is an Oldsmobile, then a heap of our 535 legislators are standing on the accelerator—with both feet—as it hurtles toward the edge.

It seems pretty simple to me, but then I’m a pretty simple girl with nothing but a high school diploma. That, and the “simple” experience of helping to manage a household on a budget.

In our real local economy, we can’t operate like Washington does. We know, we simple folks, that habitually spending more than we make invites disaster. This involves frightening words like “bankruptcy” and “penury.” Words like “repossession” and “foreclosure.” All of these, plus words I can’t repeat left on your answering machine by the likes of Thugs R Us, a national collection agency, as reported by Those Who Know.

Meanwhile, lawmakers continue to “kick the can down the road” as if it were a red Solo party cup instead of a time bomb set to blow. Thus, the angst and upset in the electorate.

To combat the aggravation, heartburn and irritability, Mr. Schrock and I have come up with a super-secret, complicated plan. It’s called, uh, The Plan.

Under other circumstances, if you’d ask me to share it, I’d have to say what any high-level intelligence agent would say, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.” Since I’ve got you riled up now, however, I figure it’s only fair that I deal you in. Here it is.

We’ve adopted a two-pronged approach called Detox and Distraction. Yup. We’re detoxing. From the news. This, we’ve found, has been helpful in resolving our symptoms.

Distraction’s worked, too. Let’s say you’re larking along in a department store, the one where you bought a certain handbag last summer. Passing by, you note that they’re still selling orange purses. In the dead of winter. Orange purses!

This makes you happy because it validates your fashion sense. Never mind that this can work against you. For instance, we all know there are certain outfits you can’t put an orange purse against. You can’t. So you switch colors, grabbing a black one. And then discover that your gum, lip balm and colored pens are in the other purse.

Rats. That’s the price a girl pays for not having the male recessive gene that’s content to carry a brown wallet. All year. With every outfit.

See what I mean about distraction? For a minute there, I forgot all about Congress, the economy and red Solo cups. It sure helps to stroll through Macy’s.

What doesn’t help, though, is strolling through Macy’s (or pretty much anywhere) with your kids. “Help,” see, is a relative term.

When they’re younger, you have to worry about where they’re at. Ours were little magicians, forever pulling a disappearing act. They’d vanish into clothes racks, around corners and down aisles.

I was a nervous wreck. While I was searching frantically through the store, those guys were hiding out in a rack of women’s slacks, snickering into a pant leg. It was distracting, alright, but not in a way that worked out well for them.

On the flip side of that wooden nickel, I’m great at distracting as well. Just let the “magicians” bleeble the first word about being bored. Or let me catch them lounging around too long with no discernible movement, and I’m on it.

Why, just the other day, I laid it down. “Wash the dishes, fold the clothes and put your suitcase away,” I said, peering darkly at Someone who clearly needed something to do.

“Man, what is this? Egypt?” he whined.

“Yeah,” I said sternly. “It is. Welcome to the desert.”

“And Moses isn’t coming,” a quick-thinking friend with distracters of her own, added.

Nope. He’s not. Too bad, really, because we could use him (and that staff of his) up on The Hill.

Meanwhile, we’ll settle for some distractions. To help you out, I’ll let you borrow my kids and take ‘em to Macy’s. You’ll forget about the fiscal cliff. I promise.

If they disappear, just check the nearest pant rack. And take your time. I’ll be distracting myself at the nearest Starbucks.

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