StreetLegalPlay by Kyle Thomas Smith

My, My! Aren’t They Friendly at Friendly’s!

Posted in Uncategorized by streetlegalplay on August 4, 2008

Let me start by going back to March 2007. Julius had 12 gay guys over to our house for brunch. Most of them were quite well-traveled and many had spent lots of time in countries where homosexuality is still illegal. When I asked how they got by in those places, one of our guests, Chris, piped up, “Honey, there are loopholes to every law.”

Chris then went on to describe his experience in Bombay, which still has sodomy laws on the books. Evidently, in Bombay and other cities in India, you can order several masseuses at a time up to your hotel room. “They’ll rub your body down with oil till you’re ready to scream,” Chris told us, “And, then, for a few extra pennies, they’ll give you a Happy Ending.” When I asked what a Happy Ending was, Chris opened his mouth and performed a simulation on a buttery leek that was on his plate.

One year after our brunch, Eliot Spitzer’s administration came to an abrupt and not-so-happy ending for similar experiences that Spitzer had procured with a call girl in various American hotels. A few days later, former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey’s former driver, Theodore Pederson, came forward with the claim that McGreevey and his ex-wife Dina Matos McGreevey engaged in frequent three-ways with him. (Matos later denied this allegation, which would otherwise have obviated her own questionable assertion that she’d never had reason to suspect that her husband was gay.)

This past Friday, Julius and I drove upstate with our friends Ed and Tom. We were going to the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in Cooperstown, New York, which is six hours north of New York City by car. After three hours on I-88, we were all facing blood-sugar crises and had to find a place to eat. Off the highway, there was a billboard for Friendly’s Restaurant. Ed suggested we go there.

The four of us took a side-booth at that Friendly’s off I-88. It was located in some unincorporated township of some unincorporated town. The place was full of bucolic teenagers, housewives and old folks, who looked like they’d been sitting there for years. Our waitress was a hearty middle-aged woman named Joan, who radiated a cheer that alone could make Friendly’s live up to its name. It seemed like everybody in the joint knew Joan. No matter how hangdog their faces were when they walked in, Joan knew how to bring them all back up to bright smiles.

Our faces were no exceptions. Joan told us that she just got back from tasting the New England Clam Chowder in the kitchen and it was par excellence. Well, within thirty seconds, she had me ordering a cup of it myself, along with a basket of chicken tenders, waffle fries, and a Diet Coke. Joan had Ed sold on the Clam Chowder too. He ordered a whole bowl of it and a turkey club sandwich. Tom ordered a Chicken Caesar salad and a malted vanilla shake, whose top Joan agreed to smother with whip cream and cherries. Julius ordered a Colossal Burger with Bacon, no fries, and a Coke.

Upstate isn’t like New York City. The cooks took their time, no matter how much Joan tried to hustle them. That was okay. Ed, Tom, Julius and I all had lots to talk about. We were going to be seeing operas by Handel and Bellini. We wondered how those would go. We speculated on whom Obama’s V.P. choice would be. That topic alone took up a good twenty minutes of conversation.

Then our food came. Between bites, we expressed our disappointment over how the Democrat-led Congress has performed after having proffered so much hope.

“It’s the worst time for Democrats to fuck up,” Tom said.

“Hey,” I said, raising my finger for everyone to wait for me to finish cooling off the steaming chicken tender in my mouth before I continued speaking, “What’s Eliot Spitzer doing these days?”

Ed said, “I don’t know. Keeping to himself.”

“Will he be facing criminal charges?” I asked.

Ed, a lawyer, replied, “He could. It wasn’t just a matter of prostitution. There was money-laundering involved too. I don’t know how his case is coming along. Everyone on both sides is keeping any likely proceedings quiet.”

Julius was polishing off his Colossal Burger with a passion equal to Spitzer in those hotel rooms.

Tom carried on, “We have a friend who worked for Spitzer. After the scandal broke, we went to see her. She was crying her eyes out. She said that Spitzer was one of the few honorable men in office. You know, those guys who work in those government offices, right? All those former frat boys and those old, frustrated fat cats. At meetings, their jaws would go all slack-and-slavering whenever a woman’d walk into the room. But not Spitzer. She says he always kept his eyes on the table and his mind on the matter at hand. She says he was the last one she’d suspect would do something like this.”

“What’s going on with his wife?” I asked.

Ed shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. I think they’re separated.”

Julius wiped his mouth off with a napkin. He’d finished his burger, so he pushed his plate to the side. “It’s amazing,” Julius said, “how indiscretions come back to haunt people.”

Just then, Joan walked up, looked down at Julius’ plate, and said, “Wow! You sure made short work of that Colossal Burger. I’m so proud of you. Would you like a Happy Ending?”

Our eyes shifted to her and back to each other. Joan must have spent a night in a Bombay hotel because she suddenly flushed crimson and said, “No, no, no. That’s not what I meant. The Happy Ending is the dessert special. You get a hot fudge sundae with your choice of ice cream!”

Tom said, “Good. I was about to say. ‘My, my! Aren’t they friendly at Friendly’s!'”

Taking away our plates, Joan said, “I guess I set myself up for that one.”

No need for Joan to be embarrassed, though. She endeared us to upstate for the whole rest of the weekend. We can’t wait to go back next year.

After all, where else can you get a Happy Ending just for finishing your burger?

Disappointing Me, Barack…

Posted in Uncategorized by streetlegalplay on August 4, 2008

Listen, Barack. You know you got my vote, but I don’t want this to become another John Kerry situation where I’m just voting you in to keep the Republicans out. But just like Kerry with Bush, you’re giving McCain cause to call you a “flip-flopper.” (A dog-tired if correct accusation, much like that hackneyed “playing the race card” claim. Can we be any more unoriginal, Mr. McCain?)

First, Barack, you amended your timetable for troop withdrawal. Look, I know my views on this are radical. I want our asses out of Iraq by midnight tonight. I understand that not everyone shares my opinion on this and I can see why you would want to “see what’s happening on the ground first.” But why didn’t you state this at the beginning of your campaign? Because it would make you seem less firm on your positions? Well, guess what: you are less firm on your positions than you’d originally claimed.

Now, you’re “willing to compromise” with regards to your opposition to off-shore oil drilling. Why? Because McCain’s got Middle America sold on the lie that further environmental destruction will drive down gas prices. (It won’t. Not for about ten years anyway – and, even then, only by a slim margin.) I know that you mitigated this by correctly proposing that we tap our own oil reserves first. You’re also right that McCain, like most of the GOP, is “in the pocket of Big Oil.” (Who does that surprise?) But your campaign took money from Big Oil companies too! And they’re right: you flip-flopped on off-shore drilling. Although, as with your stance on troop withdrawal, you oddly claim that this sudden willingness to compromise remains consistent with your original position.

Now, is McCain a flip-flopper? Shit, yeah! He said he wasn’t going to run a negative campaign. Next thing you know, he hires Bush’s propagandist p.r. team, the same ones who crushed McCain himself in 2000 and 2004. Suddenly, over 1/3 of his ads are attacking your character, Barack, like that lame-ass piece of character assassination where he compares you to Britney and Paris. Then there are other scare tactics like the old chestnut about how electing you will plunge us into a depression. Until recently, McCain also opposed off-shore oil drilling. Now he’s its foremost political proponent, once again, quite ingeniously convincing Middle America that this disastrous maneuver will be to its advantage.

But let’s be real here. A Republican can flip-flop all he or she wants and Middle America will cut them all the slack in the world. A Democrat has to work a hundred times harder and be a trillion times more consistent to win heartland votes. It isn’t fair, it isn’t equitable, but since when has politics ever been fair and equitable?

And you got far more to lose being a black Democratic candidate, Barack. A recent NPR poll revealed that, when asked, 10% of whites came right out and admitted that they would not vote for you, based on the color of your skin. 10% admitted that. How many more share the same view but won’t admit it? Again, it’s sad but true.

Barack, you did play the race card. You played it and I don’t blame you for it. If McCain doesn’t try to strike fear into people’s hearts based on how you “don’t look like the rest of the presidents on those dollar bills,” his backers at Fox News will – and have! You brought the matter of race squarely into the campaign. As well you should. Everybody knows it’s the pink elephant in the room and finally someone – you, Barack – had the guts to say it. But your campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs claims that you were referring, not to race, but to how you’re not as weatherbeaten and Washington-beaten as the dead presidents on American currency. Does Gibbs expect us to buy that rationalization?

The polls now say that you and McCain are tied. Convincing reports have surfaced, however, stating that you are actually way ahead of McCain and that the media has cooked the books on the polls to make this election look like more of a horse race than it is. I hope those reports are right.

But you will lose this election if you, Mr. Democratic Senator, keep changing your mind on your core values and strategies. We can’t afford for that to happen. Given the state of Iraq and our international relations, the fate of the world rests on your winning this November. Stop letting us down.