I was at another dinner and the guy who bought and runs a major chain of yogurt stores in the United States stared straight at me, past about five other people in between us and said, his face slightly red, his voice raised, “I’ve done two tours in Vietnam. Nobody should be pontificating about wars if he hasn’t had a grenade thrown at him.”
I really do not want a grenade thrown at me so maybe he’s right. I don’t want a grenade thrown at my kids ever either. And if that means they can never talk about war, then I guess that’s one of the things they will have to give up in life, along with heroin via needles, masturbation via asphyxiation and ever getting into a car when a teenage boy is driving. I have made it very clear that these things are off limits.
Some conclusions: I probably should avoid dinners. I get into a lot of trouble at them. Was it really so bad to say the simple sentence: “I can never imagine a situation justifying sending my 18 year old child to a place where a grenade is going to get thrown at her.” ?
And then I wondered about other things I said at that dinner and now I feel even worse. I said that maybe Israel should’ve been put in Montana. The US could’ve handled it. And then we wouldn’t have all this bloodshed in the Middle East. And the Israelis would have a much bigger plot of land to do their thing on and not have to worry about constantly being attacked. Is it any wonder that Jewish people in the US are much more involved in culture and the arts and innovation than Jews in Israel? It’s because they always have to worry about being bombed there! Would Wyoming bomb Montana? Maybe, but I doubt it. Is Wyoming even next to Montana?
But now I realize that the host of the dinner, who I have much respect for, is part Israeli. In fact, to top off my humiliation, I think her mom was “Miss Israeli”. Did I offend?
I really need to stay home at night. I don’t even drink. And yet these things come out of my mouth. Like that movie with William Shatner where everyone had tarantulas coming out of their mouths in this small town and he had to use all his Star Trek and Twilight Zone martial arts skills to save the town.
The guy sitting next to me was a co-founder of foursquare. I asked him if he regretted not taking $100 million off the table when Yahoo offered it about a year ago. He said, “things are going great at foursquare.” That’s a great non-answer.
Another guy walked in. This was at the cocktails pre-dinner. I asked him what he did. He said he was a businessman. I said, “that’s funny. You look like a politician. As soon as you walked in I said to myself, ‘that guy is in politics’.” He was tall, gray hair, blue suit, red tie, thin.
He said, “well … I just finished a stint as Governor of Kansas.”
Another guy said, “how did you know he was in politics?”
And I said, “look at him. He looks like the opposite of me and NOBODY would ever say I was in politics.”
And then I wondered, “that must be fun to have a “stint” as a governor.” Sort of like a tour of duty in Vietnam with no grenades.
I asked him, “was that fun being governor?” And then I felt bad because that’s the sort of question I would ask governors when I interviewed them when I was twelve years old. In the 31 years since then my interview style hasn’t changed at all.
“Yes,” he said, “I loved the policy side of it. But I’m a businessman at heart.” Good guy. Something about Kansas makes people good guys. Maybe Israel would’ve done ok staking out a part of Kansas. Everyone would’ve left them alone I bet. The ex governor of Kansas made some anecdotes implying that the cost of living in Kansas is about 1/6 that of the cost of living in places like DC and NYC. I might want to move there. I wonder if they need a chain of yogurt shops there.
I was a bit harried when I got to the dinner. I had just been on CNBC’s show “Fast Money”. Some gloomy, suicidal guy, Dick Bove, said that “the end of times were near” if we don’t come to an agreement about the “debt ceiling”.
I said on TV, “no matter what they do over the weekend with the debt ceiling I’m still going to buy my kids candy on Monday and when the ipad 10 comes out I’m probably going to buy it.” And then on twitter someone said if “someone got that guy hair gel he might actually sound smart” which I thought was an odd comment but unless someone has ever thrown a grenade at him I guess he’s allowed to say it. Or not say it. I forget the subtleties of these things when it comes to grenades.
Dan, my business partner, and his dad were watching the segment. Dan told me later he turned to his dad right then and said, “James couldn’t tell you three things about the debt ceiling and now he’s on national TV talking about it.”
When I got home around midnight my kids were still up. I don’t think they ever sleep. What do they even do? They don’t have to work. Or plan things. Or even think about debt ceilings. Why are they always up puttering around? If I were a kid right now I would not waste precious time puttering around. I would sleep as much as possible.
We were going to a water park the next day. I tried on a bathing suit I had just bought. They were laughing hysterically when they saw me in it. I haven’t worn a bathing suit in about fifteen years. Or shorts. I hate shorts. I grumbled something and went to sleep in my bathing suit upstairs. I had to break it in like a baseball glove.
The next morning, Claudia asked me how the show, the dinner, and everything went the night before. We were drinking our first cups of coffee. Outside it was gray, little specks of rain hitting the windows, the neighborhood cat peeking in the window on occasion. I said to her, one of these days I’m going to write a post and say it was quite possibly the best night this universe has ever experienced. And she laughed because that could only mean that many things had gone horribly wrong.