FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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: missybeat@gmail.com.

More articles by:

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: missybeat@gmail.com

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail