The Rant 

All right, I want to know who is responsible for

this conspiracy. No, not the usual and ongoing conspiracy involving

Sarah Jessica Parker being on television every time I happen to glance at it but there's no bartender asking her, "Hey, why the long face?" (One can dream, can't one?) And no, not the mass media's conspiracy to give many of us tormenting rectal itch by continuing to report on Sarah Palin's family's penchant to breed, even though she has resigned as governor of Alaska and should be remanded to her fishing hole to carry out the rest of her tyrannical assault on intelligence there in her own private sanctuary of bad grammar where no one else knows the difference, except for maybe the fish, which can't comment on her daughter Bristol's "personoll loff," even though she keeps dragging that baby around from talk show to talk show to get camera time as the new, unofficial spokesperson for the G.E.D. Completion Association. And no, no, no — not even the conspiracy being deftly carried out by NutriSystem to brainwash the masses into believing that Marie Osmond really shed all those pounds by eating lasagna and chocolate, when we all really know that she was out of work, got a personal trainer, and lost that weight to become the company's highly paid spokesperson. Just kidding, of course. Marie, please don't sue me. I can't be in the same courtroom with that many hair extensions without at least a couple of Percocet.

No, I am talking about this conspiracy: Take this past Sunday's edition of The Commercial Appeal. Headline: "50 hotels deliver free night after community service." Or this one from the same issue: "50 years ago it all began with two questions." Or how about this advertising headline for a dishwashing product: "Still Washing Dishes the Old-Fashioned Way . . . Try Today! For 50 Percent Off!" Or this one: "I live alone. I am independent. I am safe. I have Life Alert. Life Alert 50+ for people 50+." WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE TRYING TO DO TO ME? Fifty, 50, 50, 50, 50, 50, 50, 50, 50!!!!

Okay, so I'm just kidding again, of course. I don't blame the daily newspaper for my paranoia. They didn't cause Michael Jackson and Billy Mays to both die, so sadly, at ... 50. They didn't choose for Marie Osmond to lose, yes, 50 pounds, or however much it is.

I mentioned on this page a few weeks ago that I would soon be a half-century old. Well, a few weeks ago, that seemed like, well, 50 years from then. But now, by the time the ink starts to dry on this paper, that day will have arrived — Bastille Day, to be precise. And I just find it very hard to believe. Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. I'm older than the president of the United States. Hell, I'm older than the presidents of most corporations. Add to that the fact that I am bald, fat, have a white beard, can't read the phone book, have high blood pressure, low blood sugar, short-term memory loss, and long-term psychological problems that cause me to chase my cats around the house screaming, "Iron Cuisine!" and here we have a picture that could in every way be just a little bit prettier. Oh well. At least I've stopped, for the time being anyway, and probably due to old age, boiling large pots of toilet paper in my sleep and obsessing about speaking in French at the Burger King drive-through window.

But speaking of that, is it public opinion that once you reach the age of 50 you're old enough that it's okay to say pretty much anything you have on your mind? Have I earned that right yet? Certainly, I should be able to claim quasi-senility and tell people that if they continue to end sentences with prepositions that they deserve to be publicly humiliated. When I hear someone say, "Her and me went to the movies," can I pelt them from across the bar with olives and spit wads and just sit back and say that it's because I'm in the early stages of dementia and didn't really mean to do it?

I also think that it's time I consider a run for political office. No offense, Myron, because I think you'd make a mighty fine mayor of Memphis, but how about I take a stab at this? The first thing I will do, besides having MLGW show me photographic documentation of their meter readers in my backyard, will be to make sure that the city of Memphis legalizes, regulates, sells, and taxes some medical marijuana up in here — for the common cold. And make sure that the Pyramid no longer sits empty and covered with bird poop when it could very easily be operating as a refugee shelter for those who are fleeing Iowa. Do you know what Iowans have to go through? Sure, they got gay marriage — something that is as inexplicable as gay marriage being illegal in the first place — but what kind of consolation is that for all those people whose hopes are hung on the possibility of a sequel to The Bridges of Madison County being filmed there and breaking up the day-to-day monotony? Think of the economic advantages of this. Think of all the corn they would bring. The wholesomeness. The plaid. They are river people too!

Okay, so maybe I wouldn't make the best mayor in the world, even though I am 50 and have the maturity the job requires. But I'm not giving up. The world hasn't heard the last word from me. Not by a 50-yard long shot.

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