Sunday, April 29, 2012

Because Ayatollah you so

Reading the news these days can be very depressing. I myself, though, have been finding some of it very instructive. For instance, I can’t help but notice how a country called Iran has been throwing its weight around, making demands and making other countries step lightly in negotiations. How can this country, the 18th in size in the world, ever get its way? Simple: Its rulers say they have nuclear weapons—and we believe them.

I don’t happen to have a nuclear weapon. (Amazon doesn’t sell them with Free Super Saver shipping.) But neither do I dangle almosts and maybes in the faces of my various nemeses. Since my last birthday, I have something else that I consider far more personal than a nuclear bomb, which wouldn’t fit in the trunk of the Corolla anyway. And now that keeping up with the news has taught me I don’t even have to show a weapon to get my way, I realize it’s time to make my quiet declaration and take some control in my life.

Just think of the potential. Of course, my plan would work anytime I’m on a line in a store and the cashier decides to wait on his friend, who’s just walked in, before me. But that’s the easy stuff. I’m thinking more about our regular health-care provider, teamed up as usual with our insurance carrier. Do you recall the schoolyard game of salugi, in which two kids play catch with a hat, throwing it back and forth above the reach of the hat’s helpless owner? That’s what provider and carrier play today, only it isn’t a hat; it’s my wallet. Unrecorded co-pays, coverage allowed or disallowed depending on the mood of the agent…the list goes on.

Today, when we have a problem, Elena contacts them, tells them where they screwed up and sends receipts to back up what should be obvious. On rare occasion, I’ve called them. How much more productive I could be if, at the first sign of bureaucratic obstruction, I made a simple statement: “You don’t understand. You see, I have a chainsaw.” Call it my contribution to the health-care crisis. You’re welcome.

In my twisted mind, nearly everyone in the world has seen some version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or, at the very least, Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series. So by uttering those simple words, without even having to fire up the machine, I could benefit on a personal level from a strategy unfolding, so far successfully, on the international stage.

With son Andrew’s college years quickly approaching, I’m weighing my options—with a look back five years, to when daughter Katie was accepted at NYU.  Hoping to talk our way into the school’s raising her amount of financial aid to the level another school had offered, we walked up to what looked like a teller window. An officious young man, probably a grad student, looked down his nose at our handful of papers and flatly suggested that our firstborn go to that other school instead.

Were that exchange to occur today, we would not bring that handful of papers. I would only take along a photo of the chainsaw. I’d have shot it outdoors, with a ray of sunlight reflecting off a few sharpened teeth of its hungry blades. “Maybe this will change your mind,” I’d say. The temptation would be, if it were the same agent, to follow through on my threat whether or not we got the money.

Alas, there are limitations to this strategy. A chainsaw might not have its intended effect were I to announce it during, say, an IRS audit or a similar dispute with a government entity. People with real nuclear bombs, along with drones, F-22 Raptors and other instruments of death aren’t folks to threaten unless you’ve got comparable firepower.

There’s another limitation that I’ve saved for my most devoted readers who are reading to the end. My chainsaw is not one you’d have seen in those horror classics, or one with which you could compete in Maine’s Lumberjack Show. In fact, it’s a rather modest plug-in model from a brand better known for electric razors. Remember Victor Kiam? And if I were chasing you with it, anyone with legs could easily run out of reach of the extension cord. If you didn’t have legs, well, there’d be no point.

I know I can count on you. We’ll keep this to ourselves, won’t we? No putting my secret on the Internet or anything. But if you do, just remember one thing. I have…

Oh, never mind.


  1. Talk about cutting to the heart of the matter... Ah, if only life was this easy. Being a big fan of Mobster movies, there are many times I'd love to put someone's head in a pizza oven to make a point. I wish I had the temperament. Fun Bell.

  2. Talk about cutting to the heart of the matter! Being a fan of Mobster movies, I can think of many times I wish I could have put someone's head in a pizza oven. I guess I just don't have the temperament. Fun Bell.

  3. Did you say pizza oven? Sounds like time for a slice--though there'd be more to clean up than tasty sauce. Thank you very much for the comment!