Yesterday, Iranians were breaking their necks to get to the Dollar Palm Tree and get cards to wish a big old Happy Birthday to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, born in Mashhad, Iran (1939).
I bet Mashhad is really pretty at this time of the year. That was my first thought when I read that it was his birthday- actually, heard Mr Keillor talk about it. It was hardly shocking news a month or so ago when the rigged elections in Iran turned into street riots. People will only stand for so much oppression before they will rebel. *cough 11/4/08 USA * cough* But for crying out loud, I heard of an American woman who was injured in those fracases, and the news report indicated that she was "on vacation in Iran." Now, I don't know how to say this without sounding provincial, jingoistic and so hopelessly middle-class, but can anyone tell me any good reason for going to a corner of the globe that is usually identified as "war-torn" for a vacation? I just do not understand. My idea of vacations is all about surf 'n' sun, also surf 'n' turf and surf 'n' suds. We like the ocean, and relaxing around in Cape May, and reading out-of-town newspapers (me) and arcane Eastern philosophical books (not me.) But vacation in Iran? Help me understand.
Mr Keillor went on to say about this Grand Ayatollah (which sounds like a sporty Hyundai to me) that it is against the law to criticize him in Iran. Well, there's another reason for me to avoid vacationing there and stick with the kind of resort town where college kids bring you stacks of golden pancakes, all steaming right off the griddle, the sunlight dappled off the rich maple syrup tapped right out of a tree by a guy wearing one of those wool red-and-black plaid baseball hats with ear flaps, and with butter - great scoops of dairy-rich creamery butter, melting sweetly and forming little rivulets as it runs down the side. Down the side of the stack of pancakes, that is, not the hat with flaps.
I have always enjoyed having the freedom to speak my mind, what there is of it, and would be vexed, miffed and peeved to find that I no longer had the right to do so. What's more, even though I heap disdain on fellow Americans such as George Bush 43, Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Bill O'Reilly and others, I cherish the right to do so, I respect their right to vehemently disagree with me (and oh Lord, do they ever!), and I would never willingly relinquish their right to free speech, nor mine.
Years ago I met a couple of friends who had an interesting habit. Any time they found themselves criticizing a person, they turned to each other and made it a point to say something good about that person. In that vein, there is something that I learned from reading about Bush 41 - George H.W. Bush, the "older" Bush. He made it a regular part of his day to carry around little note cards and dash off quick thank-you notes to people who had been especially helpful, or kind, or had just done something that called for a little pat on the shoulder. I think that's great. No one ever got vexed, miffed or irked because someone else sent them a thank-you note, and to be commended for being commendable is just a good thing all around.
And, one good thing about Bush 43 is, he never tried to talk me into vacationing in Iran. There you go!