Friday, December 28, 2007

Not the best of days

When I was a younger journalist, I was introduced to the cynicism of the profession when a more experienced editor explained the distance/death ratio as far as where to play a story.

Which is to say, the farther from your home base, the more people have to die for it to be big news. And conversely, lesser deaths closer to home get more weight as well.

Which brings us to the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto today.

This was, of course, major news.

But, being the cynical journalists that we are, it was fairly easy to discuss in that jaded, "objective" way.

Don't get me wrong. I feel bad for her family, and I feel concern for the Pakistani nation.

But it's easy enough to debate things like whether it's overkill, or just thorough, to shoot someone in the head twice and then blow them up for good measure.

Or a pair of rural Pennsylvania liberals debating how long it will take for the disaster of some idiot white supremacist taking a shot at the first black president, and then diverge to the fears the Secret Service must have, given that white supremacists tend to be rednecks, and rednecks tend to hunt from the age of 4, and thus are naturally good shots from a distance, etc.

And, of course, the relative lack of wisdom of someone who's already survived at least one attempt on her life popping out of a sunroof to wave at fans like a teenager on spring break.

I mean, really. Popemobile, hello?

We even got to talking about roadkill and the time our home state's own PennDOT paved over a dead deer on the highway.

You know, death, whatever, affects someone else, yadda.

Then - figures - at the end of an otherwise trying evening at work, I found out a good friend of my father's died suddenly yesterday.

And you know, that's where the distance/death ratio applies here, even if he lived in Vancouver. Because while I feel bad for Mr. Bhutto and so forth, I feel a lot worse for my Dad. Even if his friend wasn't a world leader and wasn't shot in the head and then blown up. It still pretty much sucks.

And as far as I'm concerned, it sucks more than some woman I don't know getting shot in the head and blown up halfway around the world.

So on that cheerful note, I left work, and as I was headed out a road in Newark - which as far as I'm concerned has more than its fair share of shitty New Jersey drivers - I managed to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a stray cat in the road.

Unfortunately, said cat then turned around and ran the other way, into two lanes of traffic, and my efforts to save it went completely for naught...

As a car speeding downhill just obliterated it.

I hit the horn over and over, because I could see it coming the whole way, but the guy never slowed until after he'd crushed the little kitty.

Right before my eyes. I went from feeling sad to feeling sad and completely useless.

It's one thing to see a dead typical-roadkill animal - a la the possum, or Mr. deer, above - by the side of the road. Hell, I remember there was a dead cat on the off-ramp I used to take to work one summer that I dubbed the "Biodegradable Cat" because each day it was a little smaller and flatter.

It's another thing to see some poor little pet-type animal get squished right in front of you.

Just one more thing to make Newark a little shittier.

And all that's how I ended up sobbing to my animal-loving fiancee on the phone for most of my drive home.

I feel better now, obviously, though I gave Pumpkin a stern lecture on staying inside, out of the road, when I got home.

Still. Funny how your brain works. I could care less about a world-shaking assassination, but I'm reduced to tears over a nice man I never actually met, and a stray cat (I hope it wasn't somebody's pet!) I'd never seen before.

(Editor's Note: I know, you, my readers, have heard me complain many a time about the ongoing wussification of America. And here, I cried. It's hypocrisy. Get over it. Not that I have that many readers, if my latest poll - which, by the way, by majority declared "Dead Hunt" the greatest movie ever, so you may be few, but you're smart! - is any indication.)

On an up note, Marisa finished painting our dining room Martha Stewart wild artichoke. I'm so proud of her! She's a much better painter than I am. Yay!

Rest in peace, Art. Thanks for making my Dad's life brighter. Godspeed, and God be with those you leave behind.