Bush in the China Shop
May 24, 2002
By Art Bushwald
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
"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?"
"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
"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
"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?!!"