TOOTHPASTE …

16 years ago, I woke up to a bunch of phone messages regarding planes and towers. Suddenly, the world stopped. Planes had crashed into the World Trade Center twin towers, in New York City and Washington DC. We were all dumbfounded. Nothing like this had ever happened in our lifetimes. There was blood and carnage and people jumping out of burning buildings.

For the days and weeks and months and years that followed that horrible event, America and the western world grappled with what we were, what we are, what we should do, what we should not do, who we want to be and who we don’t want to be. .

But as years went by, life went on. And our lives went back (remarkably) to what they had been prior to 9/11. We worked. We loved. We got drunk. We got sober. We got married. We got divorced. We had tragedies. We had triumphs. We got healthy. We fell off the wagon. We went to rehab. We lost weight. We gained weight. We changed our hair. We found ourselves. We read. We learned. We voted. We danced. We had sex. We had kids. We had enough. We came back. We moved on. We pulled through. We remembered. We forgot. We put it all behind us.

In short …we LIVED. And whoever the masterminds were behind 9/11, didn’t stop ANY of that. They just created an event we all remember. Well …at least the older folks remember. It’s kinda like a hit song from a decade ago. We SORT OF remember it. But we can’t quite sing all the words.

This weekend, I was in New Jersey, walking down Monmouth Beach with my wife, gazing out at Manhattan across the bay. It’s still bustling and bright all these years later. Nobody lives in terror. Nobody hides in fear after sunset. It’s pretty much exactly what it was on September 10th, 2001. In fact, it might be a little louder.

I played a show later, in a multi-million dollar mansion, right on the water, overlooking the bay. At 9 pm, fireworks went off on the far side of the water …just because. Before the show, I had beers with several born and raised yankees who want to hoist confederate flags on their porches. Why? Just to piss off and freak out their neighbors and get a laugh out of it. Nothing more. This is what guys talk about after enough beer.

The next morning, after singing and playing and partying all night with men AND women – both equal in the eyes of the law – I packed my suitcase to fly home. And there was a momentary lapse, wondering which bag I should pack my toothpaste in. My wife and I had the obligatory TSA discussion and threw the pouch with the toothpaste in it, into the check bag. And that got me thinking …

Whatever grand scheme was in play to bring America and the west to its knees; whatever high-minded and soaring rhetoric was used to convince people to strap on C-4 or pilot suicide planes; whatever passionate vision of faith called for martyrs and soldiers to eradicate the Infidel and strike fear in the hearts of those who knew nothing of the coming revolution …whatever that was …turned out to be kind of a yawn and an afterthought.

The only legacy you left was TSA and a hassle at the airport. All of your grand schemes yielded nothing but a wrinkled, sleepy songwriter having to put his toothpaste in one bag instead of the other one. You failed …miserably. You’re a joke and a punch line. Not only did you NOT change the world, you only made it more inconvenient. Instead of being the hand of God, smiting and setting right, you’re the annoying crossing guard with the pocket protector, making me surrender those nail clippers I forgot were in my bag. You’re the class tattle-tail, who makes me take off my slip-on shoes near the X-ray machine. You’re a joke. Not a problem. You’re an inconvenience …not a life changer.

Whatever you dip wads were trying to accomplish, didn’t work. All it did was make us have to leave for the airport an hour earlier. And instead of catching up on work from an uber hip office, we catch up in an uncomfortable chair at the airport, waiting on our boarding group to be called.

Congratulations, assholes. You succeeded in adding more beuaracracy to our lives. That’s it. We don’t really fear you. We still don’t really know what you’re trying to achieve. In fact, you’re all still a punch line to us. Except, instead of an endearing one, you’re a punch line that has forced grown men to wear flip flops on airplanes. Thanks a lot. Because of you, I’ve seen more male feet than I ever wanted to. That’s what your stupid revolution has been reduced to …man toes. I hope you’re happy.

So, for all of you dill weeds out there who think you’re about to curb freedom and suppress art and expression and conquer the human will to be itself …think again. You’re on the wrong side. We aren’t giving up that easily. And we outnumber you. We will out-sing you and out-dance you and out-learn you and out-work you and out-drink you and out-think you and out-love you and out-live you.

We will win this. In fact …we already have. The Kardashians still have a show. Jimmy Fallon is still on the air. Football just cranked back up. My son just bought another fidget spinner. Americans are still helping each other bounce back from hurricanes and floods. Donald Trump is the president, for God’s sake. You didn’t just lose …you got completely humiliated. Go home. Pack it in. You suck. You always sucked. You always will suck.

All you did was mess with my toothpaste situation. And toothpaste is still so cheap, I can leave it in my hotel room and buy some more when I get home. I mean …you didn’t even make toothpaste expensive!

As my plane was soaring above the Statue of Liberty, I tried to remember if I’d packed it. But I couldn’t. Because it is SO inconsequential.

So I drifted off to sleep instead. Because I’ll have a new tube of toothpaste tomorrow if I need it.

And, other than forcing me to take off my hat and shoes for a bout six minutes, at the security line,  you have not slowed me down at all.

Did I mention, you suck?

Sincerely,

R

6 thoughts on “TOOTHPASTE …

  1. Great blog (as usual), but yur forgetting something. 9/11 was the hugest thing for those who lost relatives, were injured, ran into the inferno to help others, the thousands of dazed people in Manhattan, the Pentagon, the people on the plane that plowed into a PA field. It was huge for military personnel who wound up in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result. But yup, for most people, 16 years later it’s about the toothpaste.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I can’t think of this day without remembering the complete and total agony and horror of those who were killed, hurt, rushed to save, or waited to hear from a loved one.

    I think “they” are winning, they created the great divide, or at least they were able to widen it much further than any dispute between a liberal and a conservative could.

    The unrest, the anger, and hate can literally be traced back to that day I sat on an ottoman for hours in my jammies, here in the Midwest watching the horror in damp eyes peeking through soot covered faces. And bodies bouncing against the building as they fell from the sky escaping the fire.

    I’m not saying this to diss your blog, I love your your writing, and I want it to be reduced to that tube of toothpaste in the worst way. I just can’t.

    They are winning, Reg.

    Like

  3. Regie,

    Just in case thousands of others haven’t replied, I just have to say, hoorah! I always look forward to your blog and I intermittently share it with my four mid-20’s children. This one is a definite. Keep at it!

    Don Dupont

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  4. I was working as a police officer assigned to an airport on the West Coast that day, just arriving to start my shift. People kept asking me what had happened, but I barely knew and was unable to process the bigger picture because I went out on foot patrol as soon as I got into uniform; catching details from conversations and random breaks with a television didn’t cut it. I immediately began working mandatory 16 hour shifts, developed pneumonia and still had to work Christmas day, barely able to breathe. My lungs still don’t work right and I was far removed from the toxins in the bellowing smoke and ash of NYC and the Pentagon. I was there to watch the transistion from private security to Federal security (TSA) and marvel at the ridiculousness of regulations intended to protect which often only gave the appearance of safety, but which lengthened lines and shortened tempers.

    I was later assigned to work with the FBI’s JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) on matters of international terrorism, something which is duplicated across the country to this day and is the major reason why there has not been another 9-11. Thousands of men and women daily running down leads, working long hours, staying up all night, filing form after report, traveling across the country and around the globe and in the process missing family gatherings, birthdays, dance recitals, and opening games all while being shackled by further rules and regulations being fought over and changed regularly in DC. For each of them, 9-11 changed things.

    Someone else mentioned the lives lost, that day and later, and the families of those people, as well as the military engagements that have grown out of it and the lives lost there. For each of them, 9-11 changed things.

    Personally, I think the huge division growing in this country might use that moment as a touchpoint excuse, but it goes so far beyond and has so much more to it, that I don’t chalk it up as a casuality of 9-11. But there is plenty of casuality to go around.

    I understand your sentiment. I applaud your sentiment. I agree one quart baggies and “travel-size” toiletries aren’t that expensive (although collectively, that newly created niche in the market was a giant plus for free-enterprise/capitalism). But, while “they” didn’t win, and the resiliency of Americans did, things, and lives, did change. Not at all as “they” had hoped it would, however, but the battle rages on. Most of us aren’t on the front lines, which is another way they didn’t win–most of us can be annoyed by toothpaste and still get on the plane, feeling safe enough to sleep and continue living as usual.

    I just don’t want to forget those who, even today, are not most of us.

    Liked by 1 person

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