Restraining Red 

Who speaks for the soccer babies?

"What brings ya'p t' this side o' town, Cope?"

"Oh, gosh, Red. My wife sent me for some milk and eggs and stuff. So here I am, at the grocery store. And when did Meridian get a 'this side of town,' anyway?"

"I date it back t' the day ya' fired me, Cope. I fig'r since'n I ain't acceptionable 'nuff f'r y'r dang column anymores, then maybe it'd be best if'n I'd stuck t' my side, an' you do the vicee-versee."

"OK then, how am I supposed to know where my side of town is, and where not to go because that's your side?"

"I figger the train tracks is the best way t' tell what side we's on."

"But we both live on the same side o' the tracks, Red. And we've both been getting our groceries from this store for years. So who's breaking the restraining order here? Me or you?"

"Gull durnit, Cope! M'I supposed t' think o' ever'thin'? You could help a li'l, y' know."

"Look, Red. This is silly. There's no reason for us to be avoiding one another. And besides, a few weeks ago, I came to you to offer reconciliation, remember? But no, you were too busy running for governor to sit down and talk with me."

"Wull yuh. But the only reason I was runnin' f'r gov'ner was acause ya' fired me. Ya' took away my platforum, Cope! Ya' just can't take away a man's platforum, not when he's got hisself used t' havin' one. Sos I ran f'r gov'ner t' get myself a platforum back. An' 'sides, I din't sees no reconsilification. Where was it?... in y'r back pocket?"

"No, I mean, I wanted to talk about maybe you coming back to the column. Maybe on a more limited basis than before."

"Wha's tha' mean? Lim'ted bassist?"

"I was thinking that whenever some topic or issue or whatever comes up that I don't give a crap about, then maybe I could let you write a column about it. See, we could say, And here's Red, filling in for Bill, who is away on assignment, or on vacation, or whatever. You could be like Willie Geist to my Matt Lauer."

"Ain't that what ya' kept y'r pal Badger Bob 'round fer?"

"Sure. But sometimes he doesn't give a crap about the same things I don't give a crap about. Like right now, everybody's all zazzed up over soccer, and I feel an obligation to write something about it, but that's hard to do when you just don't give a crap about soccer. Then I went to Bob to ask if he'd write a column on it, but as it turns out, he doesn't give a crap about soccer, either. So then I thought of you. You don't give a crap about soccer, by any chance, do you?"

"Dang sure I give a crap 'bout soccer! I din't used ta', but ever since I found out how soccer is roonin' 'Merica, I had my eye on soccer like ol' McCain on ol' Ben Gassy."

"Soccer is ruining America? Gee, Red, that's not exactly what I had in mind."

"Course it twern't! It was you lib'rals what sat back like sleepy chickens and let all those 'Merican kids get indoosicated int' the soccer lifestyle. Ain't you heard what ol' Annie Coultry had t' say 'bout y'r dang soccer?"

"Oh dear. Here we go."

"Moral decay! Tha's what she says! Hows havin' soccer balls bein' booted back an' forth in 'Merica is a sign of hows our morals are decayin' away like a toot' what ain't never chewed nothin' but jelly beans! Hows havin' our childrens get taught how soccer is natural as shaggin' flies an' shootin' hoops in the driveway! Hows the reason all them foreigners love soccer so dang much is 'cause they hate the way we 'Mericans use our hands t' catch a dang ball! Hows a sport ain't really a sport 'lessen the players got brain damage by the time they's too old t' play no more."

"So, you still haven't matured beyond Ann Coulter."

"Wha' yew mean, Cope?... 'still hain't matured?'"

"Red, I think of Ann Coulter as a clumsy, untalented, cheerleader from some special school for the dumb and dumber. And it's her job to pump that crowd up for whatever dumb thing the team is playing at, be it accusing liberals of being un-American, or drumming up scandals where none exist, or showing scorn for a game that Americans didn't invent and aren't very good at. It's what she does, and she's so cruddy at it that anyone with a serious brain doesn't pay her any attention. But she has to keep doing it because she's no good at anything else.

"But the thing is, she still appeals to those who are in this special school mostly because they don't have much to choose from. It's like, in the land of the stupid, the biggest mouth is king. So where people with a mature perspective on what matters and what doesn't totally ignore her childish braying about how the special school and everyone who goes there are the bestest ever, the people in that school eat it up. Rah! Rah! Pa-tri-ots! We're the tops, the rest are snots!

"See, Red? Most people grow out of that adolescent fantasy that whatever they are and whatever they're doing is the end-all-be-all of creation. But not the people who are in this special school, oh no. And not Ann Coulter. And apparently... not you, either."

"Cope, since I's too unmaturized f'r you, hows 'bout we call the frozen vittles aisle the center line o' this store, an' you stay on y'r side, and I'll stay vicee-versee?"

"OK, Red. But what if we're both shopping for frozen peas?"

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