Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

I’m Obnoxious


By the time you read this, I may have a grandson. May be on my way to spend a week with him. I’m excited yet anxious, thinking of years ago and the way I felt when I was pregnant, unconcerned with gender, caring only about a healthy baby.

Now, the worries are wider.

Where I live, you can’t spit without hitting a Prius. And most of the bumpers display an Obama sticker, a peace symbol, and an anti-fracking message.

One afternoon last week, my neighbor D came over. With a friend and a bottle of wine. I said, “It’s too early to drink.”

D asked, “When do you start?”

I looked at the time on my computer screen and said, “Two forty-three.”

After one glass of red, I knew I was talking too much. Blathering on about injustice. D tipped the bottle above my goblet, pouring a second. When she lifted it to land a third, I shook my head no.

Suddenly, I had to ratchet up about being unable to vote for the lesser of two evils. Next thing I knew, D’d reloaded my wine glass, skillfully, while I was distracted. I pressed on about the illusion of choice, those small baubles we’re offered, like cellphone plans and TV and Netflix menus, pathetic nods to freedom.

Oh, dear, I felt terrible the next day. Not just from the hangover but knowing I’d been obnoxious.

A few evenings later, D requested my presence. I couldn’t believe it. Thought there might be method to her invitation—to exhibit me as some specimen, the person who never shuts the Grandma Fletcher up. I made a silent vow to behave, practice restraint.

As soon as I entered D’s condo, I recognized a couple I’d met at a pre-theater cocktail party months ago. Back then, they’d discussed their activism at Moral Mondays in Raleigh, protesting the conservatism of Gov. Pat McCrory. I wasn’t sure I could maintain allegiance to that vow I’d just made. I longed to say something innocuous, such as, “Yes, I remember you.” And then, if there were a pause, “How long have you lived here?”

But there was no lull. Because almost immediately one of them mentioned seeing me at a Moral Mondays rally. Yes, I’d gone, at the urging and in the company of my son, when I first moved to NC. Then this very nice man said he and his wife had attended the large, recent event held on Saturday to denounce the policies of the Republican-controlled state government. I smiled. Then blurted that my rallying, protesting, marching, holding signs, holding hands, and candlelight vigil-ing had achieved nada. Not only have I accomplished nothing for peace and justice, and how naïve I was to think I could, US foreign and domestic policy have become even more repressive.

There I was, at it again, no control, as I yapped on about the influence of multinational corporations whose voice is louder than ours, even if we amass in large numbers to shout that the status quo is intolerable. Yammered on about politicians, the twinning mainstream parties, the Koch brothers, and Art Pope. Blah, blah, blah-ing that Pope used his uber-wealth to deliver a draconian blah, blah, blah to NC and that no state is protected from this. But I didn’t stop there. I had to yap more with the why-I-won’t-vote explanation—that the system’s corrupt and to vote is participating in corruption.

Then, when I was asked my opinion of Elizabeth Warren, I said, “She supports the Israel Lobby.”

This, after only one drink.

It’s embarrassing. For many reasons but especially since I don’t have a solution. I just bitch. And I’m conflicted. Really. I have friends who adamantly disagree with me, who organize and risk arrest in pursuit of justice. If one of them called tomorrow and asked me to join her or him at a demonstration, I actually might go. Even though I know that politicians exploit these protests by saying, “Look, here’s an example of dissent. This is democracy in action.”

When I left D’s and walked across the hall to my place, I said, “You have to stop this wretchedness, accept the decisions others make about their own contributions.” Talking to myself.

I imagine my grandson, his innocence, my wanting to protect him forever, this child I will love with all my heart. I think of that look between parents, an expression so joyous, so electric, it sparkles. I’ll see this soon, feel it.

But I’m thinking too about mothers and fathers who’re waiting the arrival of a baby, worried about the effects of US WMD, DNA-changing depleted uranium, worrying that schools, homes, and playgrounds are battlefields. And I’m ashamed—ashamed that I am incompetent to do anything except express frustration with such intensity I’ve become un-fun.

I wonder too if my grandson will look at me when he’s old enough to comprehend, when I’m diatribe-ing, and say, “Shut the Grandma Fletcher up, Grandma Fletcher.”

Missy Comley Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future