Most of the time, the really obvious and quasi-tragic items we keep on our "don't-bring-this-up-at-Christmas-dinner" lists are discussed only with our live-ins, while we're shaving and getting a little tuned-up on wine before said Christmas dinners. Like Aunt Meg's thick, dark whiskers, f'rinstance.
Most of the time, nobody crosses that line. But eventually, though, these things do come up on their own (or nearly so). Case in point: my former paralegal, Lisa.
Lisa worked with me in northern California, back when Enron (read: BP without any actual oil) was backrooming the rolling blackouts, and Jeff Skilling could still get a table outside the mess hall at Camp Concertina. And she was hopelessly (albeit uncharacteristically stupidly) in love with me. But I was (characteristically stupidly) off the market then, we worked together, and that was the end of that.
Point is, everybody knew, and nobody said beans about it. Until the party.
See, her law-school semester was ending, and her roommate invited me to the shindig. I brought the ex, the ex (characteristically cruelly) arrived on my arm wearing those heels and that skirt… whereupon Lisa laid personal claim to four or five bottles of cheap Cold Duck and put on a ripsnort that'dve made an authentic '49er proud (if not dead in the creek).
That would've been fine, semester-ending blowouts and modern stomach pumps being what they were and are. But 'long about two or so, in the living room, Lisa decided to lurch up onto her wedges, stagger toward me, lift her very lovely party dress up over her face, and sort of hook it on her head.
We saw London. We saw France. There was nothing else to see. Let's just say Aunt Meg's whiskers took a distant back seat to Lisa's.
One of the third-years playing quarters on the coffee table spoke up first: "Uh, Lisa, honey? Your slip is showing."
Monday morning was awkward, despite my polite suggestion that she, for the good of mankind, consider donating her liver to medical science someday.
Anyway, it was out there now, man. Whoops. No turning back.
All of this brings me to Congressman Joe Barton (who doesn't have much in the way of whiskers). Well, to all the Republicans, really, but Barton's the one who got caught stomping his wingtip in the stall this time.
Beady-eyed, flat-foreheaded Joe (make your own diagnosis) actually - I swear - apologized to BP, because Barack had the temerity to settle the Gulf-foulers' $50 billion cleanup tab for $20 billion in up-front cash. (Plus, maybe, a few consulting gigs for Tony Rezko later. We'll have to see.)
Barton's gaffe was epic. It was a Lisa-caliber sink-cracker of a hurl. This is how bad it was: even Boehner, Cantor, and Pence (read: the Manny, Moe and Jack of the right-wing economic-warfare armored divisions) hauled him into the cloakroom (if not the stall) and kung-fu-gripped his boys until Barton - get this - one-cheek-apologized for his apology.
Can you imagine that conversation?
Barton: "What's up, guys? I have to get back to bible study."
Boehner: "Jeeezis, Joe! What the effing eff was that?"
Barton: "What? Guys, you told me - oil, banks, and insurance. Remember?"
Boehner: "Yeah, but Joe…"
Cantor: "Joe, you know the rule. Not in front of people."
Barton: "What? What'd I say?"
Pence: "This dumbass has gotta go. I can't believe it…"
Boehner: "Quiet, Mike. I'll handle this. Joe, you gotta apologize."
Barton: "But I just did!"
Cantor: "Not to BP, Joe. We'll handle that after the midterms. To everybody else."
Barton: "What for?"
Pence: "For being a dumbass."
Boehner: "Mike, please. Listen, Joe, just go do it, and we'll talk about it later."
Barton: "Well… o.k., I guess…"
Too late, guys. The one chance you might've had to stay in the bushes is as far gone as any mystery about Lisa's anatomy. And it wasn't just Barton. Repub Conference Chairman-cum-Tea Partier Dick Armey's already offered up a cork-pop-quick "haAAyyy, th' Consitushun duddn't say O… Oh- [hiccup].. OhBAMA cn' make a pulluter akshully paaayyy, pay munnnney, duzzit? Wher'? Showme wherrre, muhfuh!" And Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Stepford) called the deal "extortion."
Look, everyone does dumb things when they think nobody's looking. BP skimped on the casings 50 miles out in the Gulf and a mile deep. Larry Craig… 'nuff said. Heck, I used to take Lisa to lunch when I was fighting with my ex.
But in the middle of the party? Wow… there's only one thing to say.
Hey, Republicans? Uh… your slip is showing.