November 13th, 2023
So, I was watching football—the kind where they use their feet “football”—the other day and I suddenly had some deep thoughts. Please forgive me.
It was a Manchester United game, and though they were losing to Brighton—as in:
“Ever since I was a young boy
I’ve played the silver ball
From Soho down to Brighton
I must have played ’em all…”
Can’t get those lyrics out of my head—sorry. Anyway, I thought that it was wonderful that the city of Manchester was “United” and I found myself wishing my country could be “united” too.
Then I remembered that there were two Premier League teams in Manchester–Manchester City and Manchester United. I also discovered that Man-United fans hate Man-City fans. Last summer, in fact, there was a big brawl in a London tube station after the teams met in the Cup final. Insults were hurled, eyes were blackened, souvenir jerseys were ripped, arrests were made by the Bobbies and, in a nod to modern reality, a viral video was produced.
It turns out that Manchester City’s number one fan is Elton John and Orlando Bloom wears the Man-United Red & White. I don’t think those two celebrity fans have ever come to blows, but if they ever do face off, I’ll bet on Legolas finishing off the Rocket Man even though Elton did do a great version of “Pinball Wizard” as in:
“Even on my favorite table
He can beat my best
His disciples lead him in
And he just does the rest…”
Again, forgive me…I am really sorry, the lines are just stuck in my head and they pop out without warning, or copyright consideration. Okay…okay…back to today’s topic. So, it turns out Manchester isn’t very “united” at all, and maybe, just maybe, it’s okay that my “United” States of America isn’t really “united” either. And, just to be clear, an Elvish bow will always beat a short guy in Liberace hand-me-downs.
Like Manchester football clubs, the “United” States also has lots of celebrity fans, many of whom hope to appear at various halftimes lip synching their songs. Though it should be noted that attendance at our football games—where players don’t use their feet to move the ball all that much—and all other sporting events is way higher than the number of citizens who go to city council meetings, congressional hearings, ten-thousand-dollar-a-plate fund raisers, or voting booths.
We “United” States-ians disagree about almost everything, even food, which is something we, as a species, never used to disagree about. Back when our semi-furry ancestors were hunting and gathering, if we could eat it, we did. If it was edible, we all agreed it was food. Not any more, now some folks are carnivores. Some are omnivores. There are vegetarians, vegans, and a tiny minority even like okra. That’s why America is number one in big all-you-can-eat buffets—something you will never find in Manchester.
width and depth of our disagreements and quarrels is enough to make you give up on any hope at all that America can survive.
But then, out of nowhere…a ray of hope…One day earlier this year, America turned on its 287 million television sets and there it was…Something we could all agree on…And the lyrics that tried to burrow into our brains…threatening to replace the timeless rock opera lyrics I love like an invasive species of garden snail…
“It’s a little pill with a big story to tell
Yada yada yada…
At each day’s start
As time went on it was easy to see
May cause a life-threatening infection…”
And now, after nearly a year of almost constant, mind-numbing repetition, it’s unanimous. 100% of us absolutely hate this jingle. I even posit that Elton John and Orlando Bloom would agree if they spent even one day with me watching American cable TV. We all speak with one voice. Stop!
Finally, we truly are the completely “United” States of A.