Walking Tall

Am I happy with the way America sees me? Well, no, I’m not going to lie to you. It makes me angry sometimes. I mean, the stereotype that has grown up about our kind…you can feel it every day. Just yesterday at work, I was in the elevator on my way up to the eighth floor (The firm of Harrelson, Tripton, and Kaiserdale just moved there from the sixth) and a bunch of people crowded in, and some guy said the obvious thing, that he felt like a sardine, and then he looked at me and got all red in the face and muttered, “Sorry.” Like that’s going to make up for decades of that kind of thing. So apparently that’s what I worked my way through law school for, so I could be seen as nothing more than a slim, salty fish capable of nothing other than being packed into a small space. It’s the year 2007, and we’ve had a sardine Supreme Court nominee, a sardine Cy Young winner, and a sardine Oscar nominee for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, but you know what? Nobody cares. Nobody cares about accomplishments. They just want to pigeonhole us. I was stuck in traffic on Sunday, in the middle of a bunch of cars, all of us pressed in tight, trying to inch our way out of the right lane because of construction, and some moron yelled out, “Hey, you must be used to this kind of thing!” Yeah, that’s freaking hilarious. The worst part is that it’s all getting internalized by my kids. When we took them all camping in May and Jeremy and Jake’s tent broke and we all had to sleep in the big one together, you could feel everyone who passed by on their way to the bath house checking us out and nodding to themselves in that self-satisfied way that makes me just want to slap them, and Jake refused to sleep with us the second night because, as he put it, “I don’t want to be a joke to everybody.” I’ll tell you, that broke my heart. That’s the kind of society we live in. It’s all about labels, the easy labels. Well, guess what? Billy has a soccer game tonight and there’s only bleacher seating at the park and there’s never enough room for all the parents so sometimes the family has to squeeze in together all in one row, and I’m going to go and sit there and be proud of being a sardine, because dammit, I have something to offer this world, and if you want to look at us and only see a bunch of closely packed fish, then go right ahead. Make your jokes. It won’t be so funny when I sneak into your house later on and beat you over the head with those stupid Muppet slippers your wife bought you for Christmas. (Oh, did I go too far? Did I go too far? Huh? Never thought you’d get threatened here on the White House tour, did you? Just goes to show you, I’m tired of the nonsense. Now please, move out of my way, I’m trying to get one decent shot of the Jefferson Room before my damn camera battery dies.)