Thursday, May 27, 2004
PO Box 1902
5482 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Dear Dr. Phil,
You’ll never guess what happened since last time I talked to you!
All week long, the house has been bustling with family. It’s bulging at the seams! People have been flying in from all over the country--my daughters: Jennifer, Stephanie, and Bobbie, my older brother Sam, my 93-year-old mother-in-law Vera, and of course Jennifer brought her son, my grandson, my pride and joy, Lester. Also, Bobbie brought a “close friend” I had never met named Billie.
Wherever I went in the house, people were huddling and talking in low voices, and when I’d come in the room, all of a sudden it got real quiet. Have you ever listened to frogs at night when there are millions of them chattering all at once and then some frog conductor waves his baton and right on a dime, they all STOP!.... and it’s dead quiet? That’s how it was whenever I walked in a room.
So, last night, my wife, Viola told me we were going to have a family meeting and she had invited someone special to talk with us. Of course, I said I couldn’t make it because I had to watch Our President talk about the new terrorist He and Ashcroft had caught. I was complaining to Viola that I would have to watch it on the little TV because, you might remember, she broke our big one the other night when she threw my popcorn bowl at Our President. But she just cut me off and said, “No, Carl. You’re coming to the meeting.”
Right then, the doorbell rang and Viola turned off the TV and pulled me into the living room. Bobbie opened the door, and in walked a smiling 60-year-old gypsy refugee from Woodstock! She gave hugs all around--big hugs--like she knew these people all her life! She even kissed some of them and left a big, fat lipstick smudge on Viola’s face. Viola and the hoop earing woman walked hand-in-hand toward me, and Viola said, “Carl, I want you to meet Isabella. She’s going to talk with us tonight.”
Even though Isabella seemed pretty weird with her beads and her long, gray-black hair and her floor length dress and I even think she had Birkenstocks (!)--I have to admit, she had a nice warm smile that made me feel like a puppy that’s been brought into a new home and he’s thinking, “I don’t know what’s going on but these people seem nice and I think it’s ok...(?)”
Here’s what Isabella said to me: “It’s so nice to meet you, Carl.” She took my hand in both of hers and looked deeply into my eyes til I had to look away.
And then we were standing in a circle, holding hands. Isabella closed her eyes and started saying something and then everybody was saying it together, and it sounded like a prayer, except it was nothing I’ve ever heard in church before. They said:
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
There was a lot more to it than that, but that’s the part I remember.
Then we were all sitting, and Isabella was on a foot stool with her knees almost touching mine, and she was looking right in my eyes again. “Carl,” she said. “Your family loves you. They love you so much they’ve come here with me tonight to talk about your problem.”
“What problem?” I said. “Our President is a little bit behind in the polls, but we’re makin’ progress in Iraq and the economy is getting better and just because the Flip-Flopping Frenchman is playing dirty politics, that’s no reason...”
I thought I heard somebody groan. “Carl, Carl,” she interrupted me gently. “Carl, I am from an organization called ‘Bushaholics Anonymous.’ We at B.A. all fell under the spell of george w. bush to the point where our lives were out of control. After repeated unsuccessful attempts, we admitted that by ourselves, we were powerless to rid george w. bush from our lives. At first, we could not imagine life without him, but with the loving help of fellow B.A. members, we learned we could live much more happily and productively in a bush-free environment. But the first step, Carl, is to admit you have a problem.”
“I don’t have a problem,” I said. “He’s down in the polls right now, but he’ll bounce back!”
“Carl...” It was my brother Sam. “Remember when you stood by Nixon, even when he got impeached?”
“Nixon never got impeached!” I protested. “He resigned for the good of the country! Besides, you’re one to talk--you voted for Clinton! Twice!”
“Clinton could negotiate on the phone with the UN Secretary, sign an education bill, write a speech and juggle Monica and a cigar, all at the same time. Your guy can’t even hold a picture book right-side-up! ”
“Jennifer, Stephanie,” Isabella interrupted quickly. “Would you like to say something to your father?”
“Daddy,” Jennifer began. “We’ve been noticing you’ve been acting really...”
“What Jennifer is trying to say,” said Stephanie, “is we think you’ve gotten obsessed with george bush to the point where he’s taking over your life.”
“Of course He’s taking over my life. He’s Our President! He’s more important than life itself!
“CARL!” It was my wife, Viola. She took a deep breath. “Carl,” she said gently, “we all love you and that’s why you need to listen carefully. The first thing you do in the morning is salute the picture of Bush you hung over our bed. You wave an American flag with each hand as you march to the bathroom. Then you spend a half hour straightening your flag lapel pin so it’s just right...”
“I’m an American!” I said. “We’re fighting a New Kind of War, and I just think it’s patriotic to stand behind Our President! Besides, did you know the Flip-Flopping Frenchman has 1 the same plan for Iraq as Our President?”
Viola said, “That’s like saying: I need brain surgery because a chimpanzee hit me over the head with a shovel. The chimpanzee and a brain surgeon both have the same plan for surgery. Who should I choose?”
“What’s your point?” I asked. “You don’t need surgery. Besides, Our President is the only candidate who will pass a Constitutional Amendment to protect the institution of marriage by banning gays...”
That was my daughter, Bobbie. I hadn’t noticed, but she was sitting on the couch with Billie, and they were holding hands with their fingers interlaced. “Um, Dad, this might not be the best time to tell you this, but I’m a lesbian, I’ve known I was a lesbian for 20 years (in case you didn’t notice!), and last month, Bobbie and I got married in San Francisco.”
Then I heard my mother-in-law whisper to Viola, “I told you not to marry that bum!”
“Furthermore, Dad,” said Bobbie, “your darling Vice-President Cheney’s daughter is gay, too.”
I looked at Viola. “Did you know this?” I asked her. Everybody in the room nodded their heads. Even my grandson, Lester.
“Grandpa,” he said. “I know Our President is more important to you than life itself. And I believed you, until--remember that story you read to me about the emperor who had no clothes? I had lots of nightmares that night and I woke up the next morning and thought, ‘Wait a minute...’ ”
“Carl,” Isabella took both my hands in hers. “Would you be willing to come with your family to a Bushaholics Anonymous meeting? There you will find people like yourself--good people who have lost their way; people who have fallen under the spell of FOX-News and can’t turn it off; people who are scared and confused and want simple answers to complex problems and just want a Daddy to tell them what to do! Are you ready to admit you are powerless over your Bushaholism and take a fearless inventory of yourself, for the good of your family and your country?”
Tears were smearing Isabella’s mascara. I looked around the room and everybody else was crying too. I have to admit, it was contagious--I was choking up myself. “I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” I heard myself shout. “I’ll do anything to get my family back! I’m tired of sleeping on the couch!”
And then we were all hugging and crying and saying we were sorry (except for my mother-in-law. I heard her whisper to Viola, “Remember Frankie Baumgarten? You should have stayed with him. He was a McGovern man!”).
Anyway, Dr. Phil, you can see my problem. My whole family has gone crazy! I told them I’d go to Bushaholics Anonymous--I’ll do anything to get them to calm down. But what I’d really like to do is bring them on your show so you can talk some sense into them before they do something really stupid and vote for Kerry! I know you’re really busy, but maybe you can squeeze us in sometime before the elections.