Thursday, October 7, 2004

Make Candidates Run in Women's Shoes

Could George Bush and John Kerry function in panty hose and heels?

Before we vote, women have a right to find out. The battle for presidency should include more than just debates. It's much too difficult to determine the winner of such events. Let's get back to the basics of competition we learned in elementary school and so many reality shows. Candidates for president should be required to run an obstacle course; one that confirms our leader could manage life like half the country's population-women.

The presidential obstacle course will last a week and consist of tasks many women perform daily. John Kerry will get a head start. (It's only fair. George's best friend Hal E. Burton has the exclusive contract to build the course in the first place.)The only money allowed will be wages earned working for a moderately flirty, mega-ego boss. They will each receive a four-year-old child, a pair of panty hose, and a tube of mascara.

An average day of competition will include, waking at 6am to feed and dress their four year old, putting on panty hose with a jagged fingernail, cleaning up the Fruit Loops spilled by the four year old, taking the kid to daycare and starting work at 8am (where they have to smile sweetly no less than 1,000 times.) The candidates will get off work at 6:30. (George will not be allowed to collect overtime pay since he's trying to take it away from everyone else.)

After work, they must pick up the child at a daycare across town, go to the grocery store, the post office, the dry cleaners, an aerobics class, drop off the electric bill, jump through a flaming hoop and have dinner on the table by 7:30. To make sure the course is not too easy (this is after all a race for the presidency), at a random point during the week the candidates will be given a baby. (I know what they'll be thinking: What? A Baby? I can't do all this with a baby! )

At this point, they have two options.
1. They could choose to continue the race without the baby. This means they must find the nearest clinic (which could be three counties away), make an appointment within the week (fat chance), plead with the jerk boss to get an unpaid day off, hop on one leg through a gauntlet of screaming people and pay a $500 fine.
2. Keep the baby. In this option the candidate has to pump breast milk on his lunch hour, hook and unhook the baby from the car seat every time he runs an errand, change a diaper in a public restroom, pretend to like Teletubbies and smile politely as people tell him how he should be raising his child. (Actually, according to the rulebook where it says, "Candidates will have a taste of their own medicine," George will be allowed to choose only this option)

The first candidate to successfully complete all tasks, with panty hose intact and no running mascara, will be the winner. However, in the probable event that neither candidate can finish the race and ends up passed out on the kitchen floor with a bag of Cheerios in one hand and a burning casserole in the oven, the first woman to arrive on the scene to clean up the mess he made will be appointed president of the United States.

On second thought, I'd rather not have another president we didn't vote for. Getting to the polls can feel like an obstacle course, but please vote in this very important election. We women have the power and opportunity to turn this country around. Early voting starts October 18 at the Supervisor of Elections office. To help get more women out to vote, contact Gainesville Area National Organization for Women by visiting http://www.gainesvillenow.org/.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Killer Bees in the backyard! SARS on the airplane! Toxic mold in the kitchen! Popular media incessantly chirp that death could be lurking anywhere from your mailbox to your muffin spatula.

The latest from the scare factory--The Bird Flu.

Scientists discovered this deadly virus in nine species of wild birds in Thailand. It has the potential to mutate and spread among humans, sparking a global pandemic that could kill millions of people. But with a pathetic name like "The Bird Flu" I predict it will be difficult to attain the proper level of panic for this lethal disease.

I can drudge up some alarm for West Nile Virus. It sounds foreign and spooky. Even SARS has the ring of a sinister tyrant from another planet. But "The Bird Flu?" Birds aren't scary. They're delicate and whimsical. They sing pretty songs. And if the need arose, I feel confident I could take one out.

When confronted in the wild, they're skittish and scared. When faced on the road they hop along feeble and confused as we barrel down the pavement. Birds are so easy to bully. They pose no real threat and so no one will be scared of their namesake flu.I like whipping up a frenzy as much as the next person. So I thought I'd lend a hand and inject the title of this deadly virus with a little more, well, deadliness. (For the record, I have not received any compensation--as of yet--from the government. I am spreading bird fear completely of my own accord.)

Let's face it. Birds have had it in for us for quite some time. They've endured ages of little boys' stones, of being the sole target of beebee guns and neighborhood cats. We've ruffled their feathers for years with offensive portrayals in movies, television and Christmas carols. No self-respecting partridge would be caught dead in a pear tree and don't even get them started on Big Bird. The Avian-American community really flew off the handle when Falcon Crest left the primetime line-up.

We use their traits as fodder for common insults. Nagging women are "henpeckers." Stupid people are "bird brained." Show any sign of fear and you're a "chicken." Refer to yourself in the third-person and you're "cuckoo."

Crapping on our cars was only phase one of their revenge attack. You'd think twice about brushing off "The Bird Flu" if you knew that an eagle can kill and carry away an animal as large as a young deer. Harpy eagles often feed on monkeys. Could your child be next?You wouldn't bully another bird if you knew the Antarctic Petrel repels enemies by regurgitating food in their faces with a force great enough to knock over a human. Let's see your little old grandmother protect herself from that.

The African Bateleur Eagle hunts over a territory of two hundred and fifty square miles a day. That's the same area as forty neighborhoods, seventeen playgrounds and more than fifty busy intersections. Could the Bateleur eagle be hunting over your lunchtime crosswalk?

So you see, birds, like their flu, are vicious and terrifying.Even the common chicken poses a threat. It is estimated that there is one chicken for every person on this earth. Yours could be staking out your house as you read this. My best advice, board up your doors and windows, avoid going outside. But if you do, beware of chickens crossing the road, because they could have--The Bird Flu.