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Monday, March 05, 2007


Not that long ago, I was cooking dinner at my parents’ house and I wanted some music. My mom has a CD player in the kitchen, so I switched it on to see what was in there. What came out was some very heavy, uneven breathing and coughing.

I popped the disk out and looked at the label. It read: PEDIATRIC RESPIRATORY DISTRESS. This is the kind of thing that sometimes happens when your mom is a nurse. I looked around for an alternative, but the only other choice was Il Divo. So I put the disk back in, hit play, and returned to cooking.

I was on track three of Pediatric Respiratory Distress when my mom came back in from wherever she was.

“Why are you listening to this?” she asked. “This is croup. It has a distinctive barking cough.”

It didn’t seem right to say that I sort of liked it. I thought she might think less of me. It was sort of like the stuff we listened to in yoga, but scarier. And there is something really fascinating about serious wheezing and coughing. It makes you really glad to be able to breathe well, and reminds you not to smoke.

“I am working on a new dance routine,” I lied. “I am looking for an alternative soundtrack.”

I left the stove for a moment and showed her some impromptu dance moves. I can dance to anything, even Pediatric Respiratory Distress. My dancing is very experimental and possibly tragic, but it makes compelling viewing. My mother couldn’t take her eyes off of it. Then she left me alone to enjoy the wheezing, but not before explaining the relationship between normal croup and spasmodic croup, even though I hadn’t asked.

Believe it or not, this brings me to Ann Coulter. She was in the news today.

I realize you don’t usually come here for my political commentary. This is the place to get information on what John Green eats and how to procrastinate and where to get pink stun guns. But bear with me. I’ll get us both out of this mess in a page or so and we can get right back to those things.

For those of you who don’t know who Ann Coulter is (and that’s okay, it’s not required knowledge), I will tell you.

I have sometimes mentioned my (imaginary) personal encounters with Ann Coulter in the (imaginary) Amazon Connect Authors’ Lounge, the sparsely-chaired room that I claim that Amazon.com makes us sit and wait in while people order our books. In these encounters, Ann Coulter always knocks her way into other authors’ conversations, steals their mini-pizzas, and then runs away, chewing on her own hair.

Ann Coulter and her delicious, delicious hair.

In real life, Ann Coulter is a right-wing commentator and author. She is so right-wing, in fact, that she has sort of flown off the map. Even a lot of Republicans are pretty horrified by someone who says things about Islamic people like “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” Or, when talking about the environment, “The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet, it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars, that's the Biblical view.”

“So,” you’re probably asking, “why does Ann Coulter say these things? Is she, you know, insane?”

No, I don’t think so. She does it to be noticed. That’s it. She may actually believe these statements of hers, or she may not. It really doesn’t matter.

A.C. (as we in the Lounge like to call her) knows if she says something really, really offensive and crazy she’ll get on TV. And then people will buy her books and have her on TV more. Which is good for her, because she has starved herself down to nothing in preparation. It’s no fun having to walk past the dessert cart and chew on your own hair instead just because you might get a 30 second spot on Fox News and you want to look all shrunken for the camera.

In a lot of ways, she’s pretty much like Steve-O from Jackass (except that Steve-O seems nice and is a lot more fun). Her remarks are the verbal equivalent of the time that Steve-O did the “bobbing for jellyfish” stunt, where he stuck his head into a container of live jellyfish. Stupid and horrifying, but nonetheless fascinating.

“But how does this relate to me?” you ask. “I’m in high school. I have tests! I have a locker combination to remember! Where does this fit into my life? I only came here because I wanted to hear more about E. Lockhart’s princess party.”

If you are in high school, this so relates to you. You are surrounded by Ann Coulters, in the same way that Steve-O is surrounded by jellyfish.

Ann’s that desperately needy person in your class, the one who brags about her SAT scores or how much her prom dress cost even though she knows that you hate her for broadcasting these facts. She’ll take your disgust if she can’t get anything else, and she can at least relax in the knowledge that YOU HEARD HER SAT SCORE AND HOW MUCH HER PROM DRESS COST.

Or that guy on the back of the bus who won’t stop burping? Ever? Even when he annoys his friends who kind of thought it was funny at first, and now only that one guy is laughing, and everyone knows that one guy laughs at everything because he is a clinically certifiable idiot. Burping guy just wants you to see that he is in it for the long haul. He’s willing to be more annoying than other people.

For some people, being noticed is the goal of their lives. In Ann Coulter’s case, she makes money off of it, which is more than burping guy can say.

She makes a lot of people upset in the process. She invokes frenzy and causes involuntary teeth grinding. She even makes some people post long blogs about her when they should be talking about E. Lockhart’s princess party.

There’s no point, really. Ann Coulter wants to engage in meaningful political debate about as much as burping guy wants to have an in-depth discussion on the causes of gastrointestinal upset. She offers nothing but her own brand of entertainment, which you either like or you don’t. Yes, some people actually like Ann Coulter. But then, some people eat pork lips. There is simply no accounting for taste. If you put a product out there, someone will buy it.

Someone, somewhere, bought Urkel-os.

I’m not really worried about offending anyone here. If you do like Ann Coulter, you probably aren’t reading this blog because you’re off banning Harry Potter or clubbing a baby seal. Or maybe you’re Googling that totally hysterical guy who used to be on your bus and burped all the time so you can get together.

The fact that I am talking about her begs the other, possibly more interesting question: why are horrible things and people sometimes so amazingly fun to listen to? Why will you talk about prom dress girl for the rest of the week? Why am I STILL talking about that girl who broadcast her SAT score to me EVERY SINGLE DAY of December of senior year until I threatened her with my pen?

I’m not entirely sure. But my guess is, like with SAT girl or Pediatric Respiratory Distress, sometimes it’s just a relief to be able to say, “I may be a lot of things, but at least I don’t sound like that.”

What about you, dear readers? What’s so deliciously horrible in your life that you simply can’t turn away from it? I would love to know.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a bowl of Urkel-os to finish before they get all soggy.

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Blogger Becs said...

Power Rangers. I go back and watch it every now and then, and talk about cheese! But god, it's hilarious. :D

9:58 PM  
Anonymous Cameron said...

Well targeted, right tone, clear message. Very well done.

2:14 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

I know that it's nasty and irreverent and inappropriate - but I can't help it. Sometimes I get into burping contests at the dinner table with my sons. And it's ME that starts it! And they are young! Impressionable! I am so going down on the 'bad mom' list!

2:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deliciously horrible? All I can think about is that comic strip, "Mallard Fillmore". I guess I can't ignore it because I am so amazed that this is actually in the newspaper. The strip spends most of its time just saying "Liberals Suck" in as many ways as it can. Also, that duck spent THREE days talking about how Chinese people eat dogs. How is that insightful or even funny? Why is this even in the newspaper?! I find my eyes wandering to his strip just so I can see how bad it is.

3:00 AM  
Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...

I'm with you, Kristen. I still find burping incredibly funny. And even funner to do . . .


Oh wait, I'm Australian, I didn't have prom. But if I were American and I did get to go to prom I bet my dress would have been awesome. I would take Hussein Chalayan back in time to design it for me. It would involve all sorts of advanced tech and at the end of the night it would blow up.

Um, don't mind me. I have been working too hard for too long.

Thank you for the fabulous post, Maureen. You are the wittiest.

3:26 AM  
Anonymous Dawn said...

What's so deliciously horrible in my life? Probably watching John Green attempt to rip the hairs off of his chin with wax, or eat horseradish. No. No. Watching Hank attempt to be girly with a really strange hat and convince the people at his doctor's to film his earwax being removed. I don't want to watch John suffer in pain...nor watch Hank's earwax plop into the catcher-thingy. But I just can't help myself. :) I loved reading your amazingly long but extremely captivating post. No wonder you're an author. Good career choice. ;)

4:12 AM  
Anonymous Liz said...

Deliciously horrible things in my life? There's the terrible advice columns in the Tempo section of the newspaper, my horoscope, and Brotherhood 2.0 (who CAN'T be addicted to it?). I'm sure I'll noticing more the next few days...if my brain recovers from the lack of oxygen when I was laughing at the Urkel-Os...

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

My theory is that Ann Coulter and Laura Schlesinger are actually the same (warped) person. The people we see are actually actresses that spout the lines they are given. My story and I am sticking to it.

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The most deliciously horrible thing in my life?
Caleb Chavez.
He once asked our science teacher, " If you think too much will your brain hurt?"
She said " NO Caleb it shouldn't I don't know why don't you try it some time?" But no one can resist watching him make a fool of himself. SO that is why he is so deliciously horrible.

6:29 AM  
Blogger marrije said...

We have this politician here in Holland called Geert Wilders who, while not quite as crazy as Ann C. is very annoying himself. Thank you, Maureen, for giving me a handle on how to think about him when he start blatherating again: I will now think 'Hey! It's Steve-O!' and I will cope. Excellent image!

7:23 AM  
Blogger Tobias said...

woohoo, another dutch person. I couldn't come up with anything until you said geert wilders, he is terrible, but I still read his columns so I can laugh.

and I wanted to ask; are you're book anything for guys, they seem quite girly. no offense =P (if they're just as good as your blogs I will like it I think)

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Funny you mention Urkel-Os.

I was just watching the 100 Cutest Child Stars on E!, Urkel being one of them, though I think he wants to be known as Jamal now.

2:46 AM  
Blogger Justine Larbalestier said...

Tobias: My husband's a boy. (At least he was last time I looked.) And he's a huge Maureen Johnson fan. I think Devilish is his favourite. And, yes, they're every bit as witty as her blog.

7:23 PM  
Anonymous cep program said...

thank you nice sharing

3:34 PM  
Anonymous Chelsea said...

The blended Happy Meal thing on Brotherhood 2.0 was pretty horrible, and most certainly not delicious.

7:55 AM  
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