Chatological Humor with Gene Weingarten

May 26, 2020

You asked for it and you got it. Gene holds weekly mini-chats every Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country — and anything else you want to discuss.

Here is this week's poll.

Good afternoon.  

Below, a Hollywood pitch meeting.  Story by Tom Shroder, screenplay by me. .   

Writer:  So, our movie will center on a powerful man who rises to the very top of his field.  He is really disagreeable in every possible way.  He is physically repulsive yet vain. He is an abusive bully,  stupid, ill-informed, racist, thin-skinned, vindictive, selfish, and startlingly incompetent to the point of costing people's lives.  He is a serial philanderer.  At work, he surrounds himself with toadies and lickspittles, and when he realizes he has accidentally hired someone with at least a scintilla of character and independence of thought, he fires them.  He is a blowhard and a congenital liar.  He cheats at golf.   He has an explosive temper.  He has no compassion or empathy.   He is impulsive.  When he appears in public and is trying to look powerful and in control, he cocks his head back, throws his jaw out, inflates his chest, and looks exactly like Mussolini. 

 Producer:  Wow.  Interesting.  Okay, go on. 

Writer:  That's it!  

Producer:  What are his good traits?

Writer:  There are none!  


Writer: That's the strength of this! 

Producer: There needs to be some balancing qualities.  It's what gives the story depth and emotional strength.  It injects tension and complexity.  Even Charles Foster Kane had some redeeming qualities. 

Writer:  Nope.  

Producer:  Uh, we'll get back to you.  


Important personal news: I have purchased an elegant toilet-seat bidet.  It is very new and I am not prepared to give my views on this, but be reassured:  I will be reporting back week after week, month after month, describing the experience of using this machine in extraordinary detail involving minutiae of its cleansing, dispersion, deodorizing, massaging and drying  functions. 


Lastly, on Twitter yesterday I asked readers to vote on which misuse of spoken language is worse: visa-versa or ek-cetera.   (Ek won, handily.)   This resulted in a hemorrhage of other worthy nominees, among them "asterik," "expresso" and "supposably."

Taking more nominees here.  

Chat begins at noon sharp.   


Aside from resigning, is there ANY way he could redeem himself to many in the (knock on wood) last few months of his presidency?

One way.  To leave with dignity.   Accept defeat graciously.  No insane last minute pardons.  Acceptance he could have done better.  Offers to help his successor.  Acknowledgement his successor ran a good, fair campaign.  Begging his supporters to be similarly accepting and gracious.  

Don't bet on it. 

Back in late January I started a weight loss program. I'm 45 years old and had hit a record high weight and decided that I needed to do something about it for my long term health. I've been very successful and have lost 43 pounds. I'm very proud of my weight loss, but have been reluctant to share with others since I hear so many stories of folks gaining weight during this pandemic. So I'll brag here anonymously instead.

I am not a nutritionist, nor am I a doctor (but I play one in this chat.).   But that sounds like a LOT of weight to lose in four months.   I'm not sure this is wise, but here goes: 

Can you share what you did?  Warning: I am prepared to denounce you as a quack.  

Your opening reminded me of this comment from Scott Z. Burns, who wrote the screenplay for the 2011 movie “Contagion”: "I would have never imagined that the movie needed a 'bad guy' beyond the virus itself. It seems pretty basic that the plot should be humans united against the virus. If you were writing it now, you would have to take into account the blunders of a dishonest president and the political party that supports him. But any good studio executive would have probably told us that such a character was unbelievable and made the script more of a dark comedy than a thriller." 

Yep.  That's what this guy is: Unbelievable. 

Trump went on another namecalling rant over the weekend, re-tweeting some horrible tweets. It disgusts me that it is now acceptable for the POTUS to call people names. Four years ago, I predicted a Trump win and I understood why people would vote for him. (Disagreed, but understood.) If he is elected again - which I think is probable, I don't think Biden would win if the election was held tomorrow - the whole country needs to be written off as a failed state.

I agree with all of this except your pessimism about the election.  It presupposes a worse electorate than I think we have.  This is a president who has actively (and passively) contributed to thousands of deaths, AND he is one of the most loathsome and disagreeable humans on the planet. 

Have you read about the theories and preparation regarding Trump trying to interfere with the election, for instance putting bans on mass gatherings in Democratic strongholds? The NYT published one such article. Most of me thinks, "surely not" but it sends chills up my spine. Any thoughts from you or fellow chatters on whether this is possible? If he did do anything, would most of the country stay silent or even notice?

If he feels threatened -- and he will -- I would put nothing past him.  He does everything for the good of Trump and nothing for the good of the country.   Even Richard Nixon made decisions that hurt him, for the good of the country.  

Now, we have a guy now who would stop at nothing.  

Ooooh, I've been thinking of investing in one, especially since my friends who use them state they don't need toilet paper, they just use a towel. Is this true?? Think of the paper saving and lessened stress in seeking out TP!

You still need toilet paper.  You don't use nearly as much, but you still need TP

So as a dog owner and a New Yorker, what do you think about the latest video from yesterday, where a black man has asked a white woman to leash her dog in Central Park and she responds by threatening to call the cops on him and then following through, growing more and more agitated as she talks to the police -- many think in an effort to imply an attack? On the one hand, glad she's getting lambasted for this. On the other, she's losing her dog, possibly her job, her privacy ... over one horrible incident. She'll be forever google-linked to this incident. Is the punishment worth the crime?

I have a hard time feeling sympathy for her, obviously.  She may only have been  IMPLYING an attack, but she was also prepared to allege a crime ("...threatening my life.")  She was treating her dog horribly. (This is a clue to me, about who she is.)  She was exercising white privilege at the expense (and possibly reputation ruin) of an innocent black person and making it clear it was about race.   

One thing on her side, not an excuse but a mitigation:  We are all a little nuts these days.  This may not totally represent who she normally is. 

So your real question: Is the sin commensurate to the punishment?  Of course it isn't.   Social media has amplified everything.   She was guilty of being a huge jackass in public; whether she would have followed through with police and literally tried to get the guy in trouble with the law, about that we can only surmise, and surmising shouldn't be part of the calculus of crime and punishment.  

She has an explanation for what happened, and it differs from the guy's but not enough to excuse what she did, even if we accept her version.  I don't.  Just based on what else we've seen of her. 

I don't feel bad for her, exactly, but I do think that what she is about to go through is too harsh for what she did.   She may not lose her job, she may get her dog back, but she's never going to be able to live without being known as the b---- in the park. 



I once saw a woman working in a coffee shop write down a phone order as cafè olè instead of cafe au lait.


Every individual is experiencing different levels and different types of challenges, but I have to say a word for the single folks. I arbitrarily picked drinking because that's getting a little out of hand. But I also sleep all the time -- the better part of 20 consecutive hours Friday/Saturday and the occasional nap during the work day. I spent all day on the couch yesterday watching a reality show marathon because it was all that my brain had the bandwidth for. Forget reading. I started exercising when all this started to keep me sane but I physically and mentally haven't been able to do it for the last couple of weeks. I've gone from healthy cooking to ordering in 4-5 times a week. I spent my birthday having a nice meal and toilet paper delivered. I am supremely lucky to have a dog I love and a home I love and a job and income. But the only faces I see are people not wearing masks, and I am told to be afraid of them. Every time I left the house yesterday, I just got to smell other people's barbeques. Video chats with friends are helpful but not the same because they ultimately remind me that I haven't touched a human being for over two months. Simultaneously, I'm becoming agoraphobic because it's scary out there and it's safe in here. I don't know how this ends, and I don't know who I'm going to be when it does.

Beautifully written.  I haven't read that much about the plight of single people; your insights help.  I imagine there is another factor: Having no one else to hold it together for.  I think I'd sink into worse behavior if I didn't have a person I love and respect who I am trying to hold it together for (or at least not to repel.)  I couldn't bear that look of pity and/or disappointment.  And it's also a reason not to swell to 270 pounds.  

Thanks for writing.  Hold it together.  It's important that when this ends, you will be yourself. 

I've met you a few times, and if I had to guess then I'd guess you're a hairy man in ... certain areas. If that's indeed the case, as a fellow hairy man ... in certain areas ... I'd be interested in hearing as time goes on how the bidet works in that context. I would assume the more hair, the harder it is for a bidet to work -- or at least, the longer it takes to work.

I do not have abnormal or excessive butt hair.  Now you know. 

People flaunting the rules

My thoughts don't jive with yours.

Trouble coming down the pipe

She literally hit the roof

Hm.  This is slightly different, but still good.  I was talking mostly about mispronunciation, not wrong word usage. 

So, Biden's comment about if an African-American is undecided between him and Trump, said African-American "ain't black" qualifies as a joke Joe shouldn't have told, right? If Jim Clyburn or Cory Booker said it, the response is "yeah, you right." But for a 78 year old white guy to say it? Just, no. Or is there something more?

Agreed.  It was a joke he shouldn't have told.  I have read three pieces by black columnists saying just that, and that's good enough for me. 

From last week, someone wrote about working on a comedy routine at home. I do the exact same thing. I make myself laugh. I wonder, how many of us are there? And is there a chance we could all be onstage at the same time? With microphones? Gotta say, my jokes are the best.

It could be an interesting traveling show, once this is over.    And would allow for you guys being good, but not really prime-time, because there would be a CONCEPT behind it.  

Tiffany has finished law school. None of the other adult Trump kids have shown any inclination to continue beyond the Penn bachelor's degree. Chelsea Clinton's post graduate degrees are far beyond impressive, yet if Hillary were president, and utilized Chelsea in any of the many areas of international relations and government where Trump has inflicted his kids, the right wing protests would be in constant Screech-Mode. Will sanity ever return to Republicans?

I think they are completely sane.  They are getting away with it.  

Hi Gene - my 80-year-old mom had a brilliant insight into the Tara Reade allegations against Biden, and I can't think of what to do with it, so I'm asking for your thoughts! The alleged incident took place 1993, in Senate offices, yes? I just can't picture that a Senate staffer on Capitol Hill in 1993 would be wearing a skirt without hose. I even checked the Wikipedia entry for pantyhose to see if I was mis-remembering when bare legs became more acceptable in the workplace, but no - they place the decline in pantyhose beginning in 1995. I know she said in an interview that she wasn't wearing hose because it was hot, but I don't remember that making a difference back then, any more than it would have been acceptable for a man to ditch his tie. Anyone out there in chat-land work on the Hill in the early 90s remember whether bare legs would have been a thing? Do you, Gene? I'm firmly on the "believe women" side of things, for what it's worth - I just thought this was an interesting angle that isn't getting talked about much.

I will be throwing this out there, because I am ignorant.  

Maybe he took this since he couldn't get the glass of bleach past his nose

Wasn't the bleach supposed to be mainlined? Or was that the Lysol?   I forget the details of Dr. Trump's advice. 

I think you'll appreciate how well this is written and what it has to say.

It's elegantly written, and elegantly heartbreaking.  

There are things I miss due to shutdowns. I miss being able to go out on an adventure on a weekend, not knowing ahead of time if I was going to end up in a bookstore, in the woods or waking down Main St. But I’m an introvert who is perfectly happy talking to friends, family and coworkers remotely. Still, my depression is at an all time high — it’s not because I’m isolating, it’s because so much of the rest of the country isn’t. Seeing the pictures of crowded beaches and armed protesters and people definitely refusing to wear a mask has sapped what little hope I had left for this country and the future. I’m staring down a bleak future where my weekend adventures may never return, because people believe in lies and propaganda and value their own comfort over the lives of people making that comfort possible. I don’t know how to feel better. I’m not sure it’s possible.

Did you see the photos of these selfish idiots on the Ocean City boardwalk on Memorial Day?  Tom looked at a similar photo from Missouri, and said, "Residents of the Show-Me State are about to get Shown."  

You'd think I'd be used to this by now... but I'm still aggrieved by "ink pen" Is there any other kind of pen?

Yeah, but that's just a regionalism.   Doesn't bother me at all.  New Yorkers stand "on" line.  Regionalism.  It has taken me literally 50 years to wipe that from my vocabulary. 

I came across your chat from 2004 where you posted the audio from your call with Rodney Dangerfield. But the audio link didn't work anymore. Do you still have it in playable condition? Could you repost it? We could all use a laugh right now!

I will look for it.  I think I have it, literally, on tape.  

I almost feel guilty for how stress-free my family's quarantine has been. The only thing I'm really bummed about is that my kids' spring sports were cancelled and I have no idea when they'll be feasible again. But we've avoided the virus. My wife and I can both work from home productively and my kids' schools have done a good job with distance learning. Our house is big enough so we can get away from each other when we need to. My kids are old enough to mostly entertain themselves--it's all on screens, but that's not any worse than the way kids were glued to the TV when I was their age. I can sleep in longer because I don't have to get the kids to school and then commute to my job. I'm getting things done around the house that I've been thinking of for years. As much as I miss my kids' sports, I don't miss spending the whole weekend at their games. I feel a little guilty for all the packages being sent to my house, but on the other hand, in contrast to, say, transit drivers, there hasn't been any reports of outbreaks among delivery drivers. And I'm sure the businesses I'm ordering from are glad to keep selling. I have no lack of things to do or books to read at home. There are summer traditions that I will miss, but I'm not anywhere close to going crazy.

I am also not discommoded much -- my biggest loss, I am embarrassed to say, was "restaurants" -- but I am pretty bummed.  Part of it is that I look bummish (no haircut and no prospects for one, and a downwardly sliding attention to self grooming) but most of it is a general, free-floating despair about the state of things, the idiocy of the voting public, prospects for my children's lives in an era of retrenchment, etc.  Consider yourselves lucky.  

Your Facebook comment about the poll said it's "maybe a little disturbing." Why would it be disturbing? Yes, the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation as a whole is disturbing, and this administration's response thereto is extremely disturbing, but some fairly innocuous questions? I don't get it. (It wouldn't be the first time.) Pray elucidate.

Just that I was asking people to assess and confront the severity and details of their own despair.   

Is Hewitt the one-eyed midget or Mr. Jones? 

I'm thinking.   The one-eyed midget teases and torments Mr. Jones about his cluelessness.   Okay, that gets me nowhere in trying to answer your question. 

I do not like Hewitt's politics, nor (probably) would any of the people about whom he is writing reverently.   But I'm not sure how this applies. 

Hewitt is not a bad writer, at all.  He writes this about boomers, and it is pretty damn good:  "As young people, old people menaced them. As old people, young people do. Their parents voted in presidents who sent them or their friends to Southeast Asia. Their kids have children who are asymptomatic balls of kryptonite."

He does seem to ignore enormous anxieties of the post-boomie generations -- 9/11, AIDS, one and now two enormous financial crises -- but that doesn't obviate what he's writing about. 

Okay, you have me stumped.  Splain your question. 

Or wait.  Were you being the one-eyed midget to my Jones?

if he loses. The question is, of course, irrelevant because squatting in the White House doesn't make you president. Being president does. However, if Trump loses, he will leave before the next president is sworn in because he is entirely incapable of doing the traditional meet and greet with the newly elected president. He will leave the night before, probably after signing a bunch of pardons and resigning so Pence can get sworn in and pardon him. However there is an interesting question. What happens between the date the election is called and January 20th. I fully expect a government shut down. The continuing resolution at the end of September will be for 6 to 8 weeks. After that, there is little chance that anything will be signed whether he wins or loses. If he wins, he is going to insist on a budget that gives him everything his tiny little heart desires and Pelosi will refuse to give it to him. No way to know when that one would end. If he loses, nothing will keep him from denying most federal employees (who will not have voted for him on average) their paychecks for two months - possibly excepting a few favored departments. It is going to be really, really, really ugly. Oh, and if the first wave of the pandemic ever ends at all, the second wave will be upon us by then.

I think there is only one hope, considering the man's stupidity and narcissism:  That someone he trusts will persuade him leaving with a scorched earth will harm his "legacy," such as it is. 

I selected "depression/mood" as the umbrella issue that can manifest in the other issues listed. My sleep is way out of joint, sometimes disrupted and sometimes fine, but at majorly shifted hours (I got up at 1:20 p.m. today). My productivity is way off, in part due to my sleep schedule, in part because I find myself eating up time with distractions. My eating is probably better for the most part, because I'm cooking more and getting less takeout, though I'm treating my mood disorder with candy. I have not, fortunately, taken to substance abuse, unless you count the candy.

I think you made the right poll choice, considering.

I put "social occasions" because it was the best of the options, but it's not what I miss most. What I miss most (as a 30something white lady) is the feeling that, when in a public place like a grocery store or restaurant, I was basically safe. Yeah, freak accident could happen, but eh. And that even activities like running on deserted park trails, my biggest risk was accidental injury or sexual assault. That's not to say I didn't worry about those, but seeing a child or an old person walk towards me in an aisle or on the street did not, in itself, spike fear. I rode metro and wandered the city and lived a full life. I no longer feel bodily safe anywhere except in my own home, because literally any human I see has the real possibility of carrying a virus that could kill me. I fully acknowledge that if I were a POC, i wouldn't have been guaranteed this bubble before, but it is without a doubt what I miss most. Would give up movies or restaurants or haircuts forever to have that sense of security back.

Well put.   Of course, you WILL get that sense of security back, eventually. But the question is, when?

That some high profile conservatives are finally starting to speak out against Trump such as Coulter and Sessions. Anomaly or tip of the iceberg?

More the second than the first?  Maybe?  I think conservatives will start turning on Trump when it is becoming clear he is not only doomed, but a downward drain on the party.  That is the level of their "patriotism," but I'll take it.  I'll take anything.  I would be happy if conservs started abandoning Trump because of his taste in hamburgers, or that he can't spell "hamburger."  I'll take anything, and officially applaud it as wise.  

A while back, on Twitter, you said: "I just for the first time learned the derivation of the word 'taint,' and am laughing." Well, what is it, for crying out loud? What a tease...

Gonna try to say this in a way that allows me to remain employed: 

Anatomically, is is in no-man's land.  It ain't yer xxxxx and it ain't your xxxxxx.    (It ain't, in hillybilly English, becomes " ''tain't," which has not one but two apostrophes. 0

So, has the loss of Barnaby (and my condolences) prompted Rachel to get an itch for bringing a different sort of wee soul into your relationship?

Yes, and I suppose I am revealing something personal and intimate here, but here goes: We are considering getting a parrot. 

The biggest impact/thing I miss due to the pandemic wasn’t one of the choices - lack of child care/school. My spouse and I are very lucky in that we can both work from home but doing that with three children under 10 is far and away the hardest part of this for us.

Yep, I missed that.  Thanks. 

Apologies for resubmitting this, Gene, but since you had to break off early last week, I trust you won't mind. Two weeks ago, you said this: "When I was about 15, I learned "penis erectus non discriminandum est." I do not know If this is real but I have remembered it for a half century." Sorry to burst your bubble, Gene, but it isn't real. Or, more precisely, it's probably a conflation of two different Latin tags: "Penis erectus non habet conscientiam" = An erect penis has no conscience "De gustibus non est disputandum" = There's no accounting for taste You're welcome.

Interesting, and you are right.  In my feeble defense, I did say that I was unsure it was accurate.   I took it to mean exactly what the first quote above meant. 

I also dispute its accuracy.   Perhaps I am naive, but I do believe that even horndogs men consumed in lust and favoring indiscriminate, no-commitment promiscuous sex, are ultimately motivated by a need for love.  They just don't know it.   And a search for love is by its nature discriminating. 

I think those men have a short in that hardwired search-for-love.  It doesn't excuse their behavior or make it less unappealing.  But I think, deep down, all people of all sexual orientations are looking for the same thing.  

These protestors, especially the armed ones, appear to be a primarily white 2nd amendment absolutist subgroup of the trump death cult. I was thinking we could refer to them as "Branch Covidians", then a friend suggested it should be "Branch Covidiots". Which do you prefer?

I'd have to do a focus group or poll as to whether the pun is lost with the "idiots" end.     If it is, I'd go with the first.   If people still get the reference, definitely the second. 

After all his posturing, first before Easter and most recently re this past weekend, about churches reopening, I expected to see President Trump spending all day Sunday attending a succession of church services, to demonstrate his sincerity. Actually, no I didn't. Pleasuring himself by going golfing, that I anticipated.

Of course! 

I said that I miss the ease of shopping more than social occasions/friends, but that's not because I'm antisocial. I have been video chatting with friends across the country and having more social interactions during the pandemic than I did before! But I am just not an online shopper. I can't buy clothes without trying them on. Period. Right now I need to buy a new mattress and boxsprings--an investment I'm not willing to make without an in-person shopping experience. And while we aren't about to go hungry because we are using one of the grocery delivery services and shopping at 6 a.m. when we go ourselves, I really miss being able to pick up packages, make leisurely comparisons between items, and explore new foods that I might spot if taking my time in the store. I also have two cousins who had babies this month, and normally I would go to Eastern Market and pick out unique DC onesies for the newborns. Sigh. I said my mental health hasn't been affected by the pandemic, so I acknowledge that missing shopping is a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things. But it's my minor annoyance.

Understood.  I am not sure what I am going to do about the haircut thing.   I am currently really longhaired (as long as when I was 18) and I see no way it's gonna get cut for months.  Someone could make a fortune with a good book on how to have a significant other cut your hair competently. 

I was zooming with a friend the other day who proudly showed off how his SO and housemate of two years cut his hair.  Since it was zoom I had to be VERY careful about controlling my laugh muscles.  

Poll question 3 was tough for me, and my answer isn't fully correct. I answered "Matters of Work/Employment" because my work requires me to travel, and those travels and work brings me into contact with all manner of thoughtful, creative, interesting people with a wide range of viewpoints. I have spent many years in my career where I've logged over 100 days in hotel rooms. I've been doing this 20+ years, and I still love it. I still love meeting people I'd otherwise never know. I still love finding a little, local restaurant in a small town in Nowheresville, Random Midwestern State. I don't miss my work (although that's fulfilling), and if I could travel in the same way and meet the same people without the job part of it, I would. I MISS travel, I MISS finding that hidden gem in a part of the country most other folks would never visit. I miss just being able to go. To be able to throw a dart at a map, jump in a car, and just GO. I miss our country, in all it's beauty, coast-to-coast. I miss our people, in all their glorious quirkiness and our ability to find connection where one would think none exists. I miss America, most of all.

Thank you.  Well put.   Somehow, I initially read that last line as "I'm Miss America." 

Since mid-March, I have conducted psychotherapy sessions via screens, and one of the things I miss the most about the in-person experience is seeing the patients' hands. So much can be expressed through fists and fidgets, and while I still get the occasional glimpse of a face-scratch or emphatic gesticulation, the hands are largely absent from the interaction. However, nearly all my patients wave at the end of the session, just before we sign-off. It may be a quick wrist-flick, a salute, or a mere raised hand to the camera, but there is always some gesticulation. This never happens in-person. You don't wave at someone who has been sitting three-feet away. Waves are for people at a distance. And, as much as I try to replicate the intimacy of the counseling room online, I get a clear signal at the end of the hour that the efforts have fallen short.

Thank you.  This is really interesting, and oddly moving. 

I can't believe you didn't list the most egregious of all: Aks. As in, "Let me aks you a question." Ugh.

Well, there's a lot of online debate over this one.   Apparently, "aks" was one of the original pronunciations; utterers of it are arguably speaking the King's English.   

Many people have commented in the past that these "misuse(s) of the spoken language" are either racially tinged or at the very least, due to a lack of proper education that the speaker had no control over. So you may not want to wade too deeply in these waters.

I have heard such arguments.  Anecdotally, all of the mispronunciations I have listed so far are things I have heard from white, well educated colleagues and friends.  I know a supposably and several ek ceteras and I even know a vunerable, though he denies it.  

Yeah, he shouldn't have made it. But let's get real: It's almost exactly equivalent to Trump saying no Jew could vote for a Democrat (and Trump wasn't joking). And on the scale of "Offensive Things Trump Has Said as President," that barely cracks the top 50.

He still shouldn't have made it.   A key difference, of course, is that Biden was being interviewed by a black man, in a funny, top-this sort of interview.

One of the things about politics that has always galled me is that you cannot be funny except in safely sanitized ways.  But you can't: It's too risky.   

"New Rule: If obnoxious middle-aged women are called “Karen”, we need a name for obnoxious middle-aged men. What would be a good name for male equivalent of Karen?"  I think I'd go with "Mitch."

Mitch is pretty good.   How about Karl?  

They had similar dress codes to capitol hill - very, very, very conservative. Wearing a trouser suit was as good as declaring that you were leaving in a few months. But you always wore hose. Skipping it would have been like declaring that you were leaving in a few weeks or possibly days. It was mandatory. Also, other than during your commute, you wanted them because everything was air conditioned to the point that men wearing wool suits, shirts (over undershirts) and ties were comfortable. It was freezing in the office itself. Her claim that she wasn't wearing hose is not believable at all.

Okay, thanks. 

I use "wrong" words to drive my wife crazy. Supposably, irregardless, li-berry, ex cetera, mute instead of moot, and foilage all get worked into conversation, when appropriate. It drives her crazy, which is why I do it: yes, I realize that they're wrong, but it's not enough to blow a gasket over. Language is supposed to be fun. Am I a horrible person?


As predicted, Trump has rolled back progress on women's rights, from choice, to pay equality, to discrimination - but 53% of white women voted FOR him. When I think of the damage to this country by dragging the religious loonies into the public discourse I would never make abortion rights a factor in my decision making again.

I bet he doesn't get white women this time around. 

My mom and I had the same discussion. I was required to wear hose at my first job at a courthouse in Oregon from 1999-2003, even if it was triple-digit weather. I remember running up to Nordstroms at lunch if I happened to get a snag in the morning, so I could buy a new pair and not be unsightly for the afternoon. I can't wrap my head around the idea that hose would not be required in the Capitol Building in 1993.

Is "snag" a regionalism?   Or is it a generational distinction?  It's not "run"?  They're both good words. 

I went from 250 lbs to 207 lbs (I am 6' 4" tall with a large frame) - so as an overall percentage of total weight loss, maybe not as much as you're thinking? I used Noom which is a weight loss plan/app. You track all your calories in the app and they give you a target for calorie consumption each day. You can set your target weight loss to a slower pace than what I did. I also upped my overall exercise. The program also classifies food into Green/Yellow/Red foods based on the caloric density of the food and tracks and gives targets for the amount of each that you eat. They also get pretty heavy into the science and psychology of it. I think overall for me, just tracking my calorie intake was key.

Okay, fair enough.  This wasn't, like, an all watermelon diet.  I declare that you are not a quack.   Also that at 6 foot four and 207 pounds, you are pretty damn svelte.  If I extrapolated my weight at 5 foot ten to what it would be at six foot four, I would be 230.  I am not svelte. 

Okay, why a parrot? And would that keep you from getting another cat?

Well, we have Buster in the house a lot, so I'd need some expert advice on how to integrate parrot and cat. 

Can you imagine what it would be like if a parrot were to learn and imitate Trumpisms in Trump's voice?

There have to be some, somewhere. 

Does foilage count, or is it too cultural?

Yeah, it counts.   Also "folage."

He's probably okay, but I still would've preferred Bernit.

Thank you. 

Did you hear the high school prank on Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me on Saturday? Someone or two managed to slip in "Harry Asscrack" as a graduate for the list of graduates that the principal read. He realized it too late...

Thank you. 

Heard a waitress ask the bartender in a puzzled tone if he could make a "bay leaves and cream." (Bailey's and cream.)

Also good. 

Then again, I'm inclined to go with the Tweeter who pointed out: "How many times has Amy Cooper said behind closed doors that a black co-worker “wasn’t a team player,” “isn’t one of us,” “made her uncomfortable.” How many times has she just not been able to put her finger on it, but just doesn’t think they’re the right candidate for the job? How many times has she already done this when it wasn’t on video?

I'm sure.   

... and is quite happy with it. But I find it rather uncomfortable, and requires a lot of drying. I actually saw an article praising the bidet by a frenchwoman. They use towels (yuch) for drying purposes although everyone in the home has a personal towel and they are washed frequently. I think I'll stick with TP.

Yeah, the towel thing skeeves me.   That is why I say you need a little bit of TP.

You've written several books on distinctly different topics. Do you have a favorite book among them? Or is that like asking which child is your favorite?

One Day is the one I am proudest of, and not just because it literally nearly killed me.  

Trump has made such a big deal about not wearing a mask, lest he appear "weak," it made me wonder: does he refuse to wear seatbelts while in a motorcade or on Air Force One for the same reason? Does he run around the Oval Office with scissors just because someone once indicated it might not be the safest idea, and he similarly feared appearing "weak"?

I love the scissors idea. 

Can someone explain to me why bidets have no seats on them? I mean, are you just supposed to hover? Why *wouldn't* you want to sit down for that? America is woefully behind (har) Japan's toilet technology.

Mine IS a toilet seat.   You sit on it.  It is heated.   

The classic stand-alone bidet doesn't have a seat and I am not sure why.  For one thing, it requires leg strength. 

... does being a curmudgeon ever become tiresome for you?

I hate people who ask questions like that. 

All intense and purposes

Yeah.  People don't think about what they are saying. 

I wonder if we've crossed some kind of universal mental health marker, as I've become aware of feeling depressed and anxious only in the past week or so. I am home alone with a middle schooler, as my spouse is deployed, and the virus is really starting to take a toll on us. I am eating too much, sleeping poorly, and bursting into tears at random moments. I know that we are luckier than many: I am able to work from home easily, my child is compliant and mostly cheerful, we live in a comfortable home in a quiet neighborhood. Technically we want for nothing, but I feel deeply unmoored without my spouse or other adult here. I am finding it harder and harder to keep up with healthy meals and a clean home. I know that grades don't really matter, but I am closely supervising what little schoolwork is still assigned. I want to keep my child from spending double-digit hours on screens, but that means I need to engage in a fun! educational! activity or resort to constant prodding and redirecting, both of which require more energy and mental focus than I think I have left. Then I feel guilty for not trying harder, for not embracing this extra time and teaching my child to cook, doing yoga classes together, and finally teaching cursive writing. I worry about catching the virus and being too sick to care for my child. I worry constantly about my elderly parents, one of whom is in assisted living. I worry about whether summer camps will be scheduled, and whether it's foolish to send my child if they continue. Then I worry about the effects of staying cooped up all summer. I worry about how long this will last, about our fraying society and the ugliness that we see every day. I guess the plus side is that I don't worry about my deployed spouse at all. Anyway, I had a good cry yesterday, got a little sun, called an old friend and chatted with some neighbors at a safe distance and felt a bit better. And another day begins.

The blessing about not worrying about your deployed spouse -- count that!  

I taught my 16 year old daughter to drive a stick shift first. I thought the driving tester might be a little bit impressed, but he didn't mention it. She passed. Now it's time for my son to do the same. THANKS GENE.

I think perhaps you are being sarcastic.   

I feel pretty sure Molly aced her test because she was rocking the shift. 

... it bothers me less than hearing trained chefs on television talking about "MARSS-capone" cheese instead of mascarpone.

Yes! Bothers me too.    

I have also known people who say "chipolte."  They cannot be persuaded it is wrong.   You can stand under the sign, and sound it out together, and they will say, ohhh, okay, and go back to "chipolte" on next usage. 

During several of the chats, Gene and others and talked about moving abroad because of Trump. I'm posting this message now because I am an American expat who has lived most of his adult life in Europe and I'd like to tell you how the U.S. looks from here. To many Europeans, the gun culture is completely insane. They're also mystified by the religiosity -- television evangelists, for example. But perhaps the biggest difference is health care. Europeans don't understand why your health insurance should be linked to your job and the notion that someone can go bankrupt because of health expenses is unthinkable. The U.S. has changed for the worse since I've been gone and it makes me very sad.

Not to mention the person we decided to elect president. 

My 99-year-old Dad says something you don’t hear much anymore when he wants us to wait just a second. “Hold the wire.”

Isn't that just a telephone reference?  

Gene, when you were a kid, did you play catch or have a catch ?

Played.  Bronx.   In the Bronx, you play catch but have a pizza.  The pizza is thin and greasy and great. 

Do you literally look up to Rachel?

Yes.  She is a half inch taller. 

Do you wear a mask when you leave your home? If so, what does it look like--solid color, print fabric, message on it?

All sorts of things.  Rachel cuts them out of T-shirts.  Most are blank but not all.  One of them says "Republicans for Voldemort."  

I think we'll end on "Republicans for Voldemort."   Thank you all.  

We are getting way more questions than I can answer, or even look at.   I am glad, but feel frustrated.   Suggestion:  Send in your questions as early as you can -- Monday if possible.  That way I can answer them in advance.  It means that there will be 768 questions answered.  YOU WON'T HAVE TIME TO READ THEM ALL. 

Okay, next week, same time, same place. 

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Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000. He was awarded the 2008 and 2010 Pulitzer Prizes for Feature Writing.

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