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Cabin Fever
A note to readers from the end of the rope.


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Jonah Goldberg

For those of you truly sick of the libertarian-versus-conservative debate, let me just repeat that, as a conservative, I respect established authority. In this case, that happens to be my wife and she says I’m not allowed to play with the libertarians anymore. She agrees with my position, but she also thinks I might as well go to a Star Trek convention and yell, “Warp speed is impossible!” Cosmo the Wonderdog, meanwhile, is completely uninterested in this debate as well — but that’s mostly because Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty doesn’t taste or smell like bacon, and the only things going back and forth between me and the ‘toids are words as opposed to, say, squirrels or tennis balls.

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Anyway, I don’t really mind having my ideological crayons yanked away, because I’m sick of the topic (that’s a hint, by the way, to readers who want me to read their 4,000-word essays on why Ayn Rand was a Vulcan).

The “On Deck” teaser for this column is “G-File: Something Light and Bubbly, Like a Chablis,” which is, of course, a butchered reference to The Sure Thing. Alas, by the time you read this column the “On Deck” doohickey will have disappeared, so I could have said the “On Deck” teaser was “G-File: ‘We’ve Got Armadillos in Our Trousers’” and you wouldn’t be able to prove me wrong. It’s sort of like the mystery of the light going out when you close the refrigerator door.

Still, the reason I wanted to do something light and bubbly — like a Chablis — is that I am a bit burnt out today. Since Sunday, I’ve completed an article on airline security for the magazine, and written an endless response to Andrew Sullivan, another to Nick Gillespie & co., a syndicated column on the stupidity of the latest assaults on John Ashcroft, a rave review of The Lord of the Rings (click here if you want to read that, because I have no idea where this column is going, though I am eager to say “We’ve got armadillos in our trousers” again), and this column — and it’s only 1:00 on Wednesday. And I didn’t even mention the zillions of e-mails I’ve gotten from readers demanding — yes demanding — that I respond to their sometimes deeply complex, sometimes deeply loopy, critiques of something — or everything — I’ve written.

Which I guess is part of the reason I’m a little ticked at you people. You see, I’m holed up here alone, save for a dog with a limitless sense of entitlement and a very limited notion of personal responsibility. Some days, I can spend the eight or more hours between my wife’s departure for work and her return home without saying a single word aloud except to Cosmo, and that’s hardly stimulating conversation: “That’s my lunch”; “Please, let me just finish this column, then we can hunt squirrels”; “Licking your nether regions is not a meaningful contribution to the family unit.”

So in the throes of my cabin fever, I tend to start thinking you are all one, single, collective person, sort of like a bunch of small creatures in a horror movie who combine into a single giant one. I know that’s not a great analogy, especially since you’re my customers more or less, but it’s all I can come up with right now. Combining all of you people into one collective person may not be healthy, but you have to admit it’s healthier than talking to a volleyball, like Tom Hanks does in Castaway. Then again, that’s a pretty low bar for a guy who lives in downtown Washington with a car, a phone, and a wonderful wife. Then again, again, until I got Cosmo I spoke to my couch on a regular basis. And that’s no better than talking to a volleyball (“I heard that! You insensitive bastard!” the couch just yelled).

Nevertheless, the problem is that, as a collective entity, you guys are daffy, fickle, and annoying. One second you’re all, “Brilliant! Great work!” and the next you’re screaming, “That was the dullest piece of navel-gazing gibberish I have ever read.” You can’t make up your mind about anything. You want more turgid prose on libertarians and you want nothing but funny-punny porn-movie titles. Are you bipolar? I sometimes wonder.

But then I remember that I have a wildly eclectic bunch of readers, by which I feel deeply honored and flattered. Some of you demand X, and others insist that the only thing I do well is Not-X. (Obviously, this is my attempt at logic-talk and not a reference to movie ratings. I’m a PG-13 kind of guy at best.) That both the Xers and the Not-Xers tolerate me when I write the stuff they don’t like, is a great compliment.

Regardless, I guess what I want to say is, “We have armadillos in our trousers.” No, wait, that’s not right. I guess what I want to say is, I’m wrong for getting peeved at you people, because you are all individually saying what you think, and for that I’m grateful. But, at the same time, I’d appreciate it if you guys would understand that even though some of the things I write aren’t your cup of tea, that doesn’t mean I’ve done anything wrong. Take it from me, a guy with armadillos in his trousers (“That wasn’t even funny the first time you said it!” my couch just yelled again).

I’m pretty sure this column was going to be about something, but now Cosmo has a huge electric magnet in his mouth and he insists that if I don’t take him out, he will erase my hard drive and find someone else to help him roll up the terrorist squirrel network. And, we’ve still got a lot of work to do, rolling up the NRO tent for the holiday break (btw, have you noticed the super-cool new search engine acquired by our unfairly smacked-around Aaron Bailey?) So, anyway, I apologize in advance for wasting your time. Still, I know someone out there will like it.



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