Democratic Underground  

A Bush in the China Shop
May 24, 2002
By Art Bushwald

My parents' anniversary was coming up, so I decided that I would get them a little gift to honor the occasion. Since they are both interested in the potter's art, I thought some nice ceramic knickknack would do the trick. So, being a supporter of the small businessman, I started walking around downtown to see if there was any locally-owned shop that was selling such an item. After passing by several blocks of mostly boarded-up or otherwise deserted-looking storefronts, I chanced upon a business that might have just what I was looking for -- Patriotic Pete's Porcelain Emporium.

The outside of the shop was bedecked in American flags of all types and materials -- tattered cloth flags, faded nylon flags, torn plastic flags, and scrunched up and dog-eared decal flags of every sort imaginable were plastered on the big display window.

Inside the shop, I was met with the screechy sounds of a flag-waving tune that was blaring from a couple of miniature speakers that were hooked up to a ramshackle cassette player.

"Greetings!" shouted the store clerk, who, I assumed, was the legendary Patriotic Pete. "What can I do for you?"

"Isn't that music a little loud?" I complained, holding my hands over my ears.

"It's 'God Bless America'!" he snapped. "Do you have something against 'God Bless America'?"

"Well, no, but..."

"You ain't one of them terra-ists, are ya?" he snarled suspiciously. "'Cuz if you are, I'm gonna have ta report you to Attorney General Ashcroft."

"I'm not a terrorist!" I exclaimed. "I just want to buy an anniversary present for my folks!"

"Oh, you're a shopper!" he cried, showing a sense of relief in his voice as he turned down the volume. "Well, that's different! As you know, our honorable and integritous president has said that the best way you and me can fight terra-ists is to shop til we drop! Let me say, I sure admire your courage in showing your willingness to stand up to those evil evil-doers! So, what is it you're looking for?"

Before I could answer, a bull suddenly came from out of nowhere and whizzed past me, his horn missing my back by millimeters.

"What the hell was THAT?!" I shrieked.

"Oh, that's just Little Georgie. Isn't he sweet?"

"Little Georgie???"

"Our watch-bull! He must've thought you was Al-Qaeda -- that's why he came after you the way he did!"

"He almost killed me!" I protested.

"Hey, you're lucky he can tell you from Al-Qaeda! There was this tall fella with one of them turban thingies come in here the other day, and I don't even want to mention what Georgie done to him! But now that Georgie realizes you ain't Al-Quaeda, he won't harm you. Don't pay him no attention! Now what can I do you for?"

Too shocked to get out of that shop while the going was good, I stammered, "I'm looking for something for my parents' anniversary, you know, something along the lines of "bluebirds of happiness".

"You don't want that kind of mushy junk," sneered the patriotic proprietor. "Get with the times! You need to get your folks something like this!" he proclaimed, as he pulled out a plaster figure from his showcase. The figure depicted General Franks standing victorious over a downed Taliban fighter, a booted foot pressing defiantly against the defeated fighter's chest.

"That's not quite what I had in mind..."

"Well, how about this?" continued Pete, as he handed me a figure of Dick Cheney dressed in red, white and blue fatigues, with bandoliers criss-crossing his bare bosom and an M16 rifle held Rambo-style in his hands. "It's made of the finest Wyoming clay and painted with the the best Texas enamel that oil money can buy!"

"Pyew!" I yelled, holding my nose as I shoved the figure back toward the shopkeeper. "It smells like gasoline!"

"Well, whaddya expect?" sneered Pete.

"Well, actually, what I have in mind is something cute, maybe exotic. Do you have any Japanese figurines?"

"What's wrong, ain't Murican stuff good enough for ya?" scowled Pete.

"Well, shoot, probably nothing in this shop is made in America", I replied as I examined a couple of figurines that bore the words "Proudly made by little kids in China".

"Ya got a point", conceded Pete. He took me over to the Oriental section and showed me a delicate Japanese maiko dancer holding a paper umbrella and folding fan. "It took them a century and a half to carve this baby!"

"A century and a half?"

"OK, a half century, then!" he growled. "But, really, half a century, century and a half, what's the difference?"

Before I could answer, Little Georgie started charging at me again. I ducked out of the way just as the crazed bovine rammed the Oriental display shelves, sending Japanese dancers, Korean tea cups, and Chinese fat-man carvings crashing to the floor. But that wasn't enough for Georgie -- he then headed straight into the "Don't Leave Your Child Behind" display, which met the same fate as the Oriental pieces. After that, he smashed the shelves of the European import section, sending German steins, French castles, and English teapots tumbling to a date with the dustbin. The mad cow then lunged at the "Gifts for Seniors" displays, causing them to fracture and shatter. Soon, piles of broken glass, smashed crystal and sharded earthenware littered nearly the entire floor. Amazingly, Little Georgie seemed to take great care during his rampage to avoid damaging the sections exhibiting the "Wealthiest Americans " collector plate series, as well as the baseball section, where he stopped to gaze -- dare I say, wistfully? -- at a hand-carved figurine of Sammy Sosa. Then he stormed off into the back room.

"What a mess!" I yelled, after the angry angus was out of earshot. "That stupid watch-bull of yours has caused you more damage than he'll ever be worth as a defender against terrorists!"

"No sweat off my back," chortled the unabashed store owner. "I'll just make my kids and grandkids pay for everything!"

"I've had enough of this nonsense" I shouted, as I made my way toward the door. "This has got to be the craziest damn shop I've ever been in!"

"Well, screw you!" shouted Pete, as he flung an ivory chimp in my direction. "Who cares what you think?!!"

Printer-friendly version
Tell a friend about this article Tell a friend about this article
Discuss this article
Democratic Underground Homepage