What men do

By Maralyn Lois Polak

So I’m sitting here waiting for another war to start.

Disaster du jour’s on my laptop, sonic scrim of soothing music’s on the radio, and my cat’s a vaguely political sideshow. He’s chasing his tail with such sportive relish he makes me laugh out loud.

This could be a Heavy Metaphor: Especially since “they” say Osama bin Laden may have finally and definitively returned from the realm of the near-dead, demonstrating DUH-Be-Yah’s vaunted Terror War was just us – not justice – chasing our own tails.

Spending billions to further devastate an already devastated country.

It all must be pretty obvious when, nearly simultaneously to my thoughts, even lame-o Demo Tom Daschle seemingly reads my mind and rips Bush on the Terror War: The Senate’s top Democrat says the Bush administration’s inability to catch Osama bin Laden raises questions about whether we are winning the war against terror.

No spit, Spurlock!

Suddenly, slicing through my reverie is a stentorian radio commercial for Seagram’s whiskey, with the portentous, gender-specific slogan, “IT’S WHAT MEN DO.”

How perfectly … retro.

But isn’t this oversell? Are we really back in the ’50s, men and women on opposite sides of the room, like a prom? With more “Real Men” who bypass quiche for remote-controlling drones to fight their wars for them?

At midnight, while taking out the trash, I observe an actual spotted slug wearing a dangling live worm for a necklace – no lie – sliming its way across my backyard brick wall. Don’t ask why, but that remarkably bizarre tableau reminds me of my journal entry for this past Sept. 8. Notice how much – or is it how little? – things have changed in just over two months:

Why am I not surprised the same day Saddam’s supposed death dossier of enough biochemical weaponry, or worse, to wipe out the planet is unlocked by DUH-Be-Ya’s bosom buddy in bellicosity, Tony Blair … the same day Condoleezza Rice warns London and Berlin could be next as terror targets if Saddam Hussein is not soon toppled … is also the same day the Iraqi tyrant’s mistress – “The Blonde” – conveniently emerges like some pent-up and pathetic Sheherezade, inciting the world’s outrage against her erstwhile lover with her incendiary accounts of what a brute he was to her?

After 30 years as Saddam’s on-off lover, the woman he called “the blonde” has escaped Iraq to tell a story of rape and humiliation.

A brilliant propaganda coup, this playing the Slut Card. I can just hear the regular Joes in Oshkosh lining up at pharmacy counters en masse to pick up their Viagra prescriptions, muttering to the pharmacist – enviously – Two wives aren’t enough for that sucker? He needs a mistress, too? Nuke him!

A year after 9-11, the U.S. government seems to be shrugging – “Osama Who?” – and suddenly the Elusive One is so … so Last Year, replaced in America’s gun-sights by Saddam as demon du jour. Even “Sforza Destino,” my normally high-minded Manhattan psychic friend, momentarily loses his equanimity upon reading how Saddam reportedly goes fishing, tossing grenades in the water to stun carp. No gefilte fish jokes, please!

Manipulation, anyone? Few are immune. Remember “Hate Week” in George Orwell’s visionary nightmare of a novel, “1984”? Pinch yourself – this is from 1949:

The new tune which was to be the theme-song of Hate Week (the “Hate Song,” it was called) had already been composed and was being endlessly plugged on the telescreens. It had a savage, barking rhythm which could not exactly be called music, but resembled the beating of a drum. Roared out by hundreds of voices to the tramp of marching feet, it was terrifying …

On the sixth day of Hate Week, after processions, speeches, shouting, singing, banners, posters, films, waxworks, rolling of drums and squealing of trumpets, tramp of marching feet, grinding of the caterpillars of tanks, roar of massed planes, booming of guns – after six days of this, when the great orgasm was quivering to its climax and the general hatred of Eurasia had boiled up into such delirium that if the crowd could have got their hands on the 2,000 Eurasian war-criminals who were to be publicly hanged on the last day of the proceedings, they would unquestionably have torn them to pieces – at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally.

War – It’s What Men Do!