Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Noah at the wave pool

It was a bit unsettling to be at a popular area water park standing in line behind a man with “Noah” tattooed on his left shoulder.
Could this be the Biblical patriarch who saved humanity from the Great Flood? Did he come to a water park to see all he had wrought?
But I concluded this was not that Noah.
From all the depictions I’ve seen that Noah would have worn a long robe. I’ve never seen any scripturally-derived paintings of Noah sipping a Pina Colada from a coconut on the ark’s Lido Deck in an old Hebrew Speedo.

Perhaps tattoo Noah was a supporter of the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH), the support group for people dealing with that perplexing skin condition.
That would have been surprising, too. Like so many park patrons, his skin was lobster pink.
This Noah wasn’t even wearing any SPF 15.
You do a lot of thinking standing in line to enter a wave pool called Wowabunga!
In this sea of humanity, there’d be much more humanity than sea. I think if people were sentenced to endure what me and multitudes did yesterday the ACLU would file a class action suit.
But if people pay $32 and wait in line to do it, they for budgetary reasons convince themselves they’re having fun.
Well, I sure wasn’t.
I don’t like being amidst that many people when they’re fully clothed.
We’re taught that fashions come and go, but that immutable fact doesn’t seem to apply to swimwear.
It just keeps getting skimpier and skimpier even as our bodies get more and more expansive.
We’ve shed all our humility, but not our love handles.
Now add wave pools to the mix. They’re wonderful fun, but the ocean motion causes already flimsy garments to come undone and reveal parts of the body that should only be seen by paid medical personnel.
What would it take for the full-body one-piece to make a fashion come back? Would unsightly sunbathers don one for a fee, say if we all chipped in?
Since it doesn’t look like the old one piece is ever going to make a stylish return, then perhaps we’ll have to consider legislative alternatives.
Revealing swimsuits, both male and female, could only be sold with a prescription from a qualified physician.
There’s a reason why most acts of human conception take place in the pitch dark. Seeing what we all look like in broad daylight is a turnoff obstacle to romantic coupling.
Yet there’s something about a public pool that encourages us to let it all hang out.
I have to think if Noah were around to see all he’d wrought he’d be dismayed.
He’d at least have to reconsider what he’d done, that maybe mankind, once so full of promise and vitality, wasn’t worth preserving.
Maybe he’d let the animals go two-by-two to populate the planet, but he’d think twice about unleashing man on a world still bewitched by water.
Sure, lions, hippos and elephants can all act like real animals.
But no one’s ever had to endure watching them adjust a thong after a Wowabunga wave unsettled their goodies.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Thanks, vets! Happy Memorial Day!

I’m giving into the warm inertia of holiday laziness by not posting a fresh Memorial Day story.
If you’re interested in reading one of those, you can do so here from 2009 (serious) or here from 2010 (silly).
But I just don’t have it in me today to conjure another one of those.
I feel sort of guilty about that.
Right now brave Americans are ducking bullets in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet. They are away from their heartsick families, their recreations and all the fat relaxing I intend to enjoy today.
They can’t play with their daughters or take them the new wave pool at Idlewild Amusement Park as I’ll be doing.
They can’t sit in a hammock and sip a beer, toke on a stogie, and listen to the Pirate game, which I have scheduled for 7 p.m.
If they’re digging any holes in the ground, it won’t be to plant flowers and tomatoes and other vegetables like we’re going to do today as a family. No, if they’re doing any digging it’ll be for protective purposes.
They’re in hostile war zones fighting to protect my freedom of speech and I’m too lazy to even exercise it.
But I will take time to say my prayers and be sure to include ones that God will protect them, their families and all the men and women who’ve ever served so I can enjoy such a splendid little life in the greatest and most exuberant country the world’s ever known.
Thank you, vets. Happy Memorial Day.

A theory on conspiracies

Insanity zooms along with such nimble virtuosity these days it’s become impossible to outcrazy the crazies.
Just the other day I wrote the following line on Facebook: “Mock Al Gore if you must, but something weird is happening with the weather. Pretty soon everyone on the sizzled planet is either going to be a storm chaser or a storm fleer.”
It caused what we can go ahead and call a storm of comment about global warming. People who swear it’s a hoax began swearing at people who swear it’s fact.
It’s an argument I like to avoid because it won’t be settled one way or another for decades.
I prefer to argue about baseball because it’ll all be settled by fall.
But no one watching the news could dispute the gist of my instigating comment. Half the people being interviewed in the deadly outbreak of the midwest tornadoes were either storm chasers and half were storm fleers.
Really, I should think about becoming a storm chaser. I love to watch extreme weather, enjoy long, aimless country drives and saying “storm chaser” would be a more dynamic answer than “blogger” when people ask how I spend my days.
One of the global warming deniers -- and it’s odd because these are the guys that get the most coincidentally heated -- said there were simple meteorological reasons for the rash of killer winds hitting more populated areas.
It’s cold here. It’s warm there. The two collide and -- voila! -- Al Roker’s boarding a plane bound for mayhem.
He said these storms usually just rip up many acres of corn in Nebraska but an enduring Rocky Mountain snow pack meant the storms would erupt farther east than usual.
That’s when I sensed an opportunity to create a conspiracy theory.
I suggested maybe the storms were simply becoming more intelligent and meaner and are targeting populations out of deliberate malice.
I thought it had a chance to become a dandy conspiracy theory. It turned weather into a motivated bully.
Of course, I learned I was way too late.
Conspiracy theorists have been assuring anyone who’d listen the Joplin and Tuscaloosa tornadoes were not random acts of nature, but the result of military-backed research programs that shoot radio waves into the upper atmosphere.
My question is how a government that operates like Homer Simpson when it comes to things like fixing the roads suddenly becomes Montgomery Burns whenever someone with a gripe needs a convenient boogieman.
Popular conspiracy theories today insist the government has the power to trigger earthquakes, tsunamis, and is using jet contrails to spray weather-controlling chemicals.
I say if Dick Cheney and Haliburton couldn’t do it then it can’t be done.
Yet, conspiracy theory is a growth industry. The Alex Jones show is a media sensation. He hosts radio and documentary films that do nothing but promote wild theories of all sorts.
Who believes this stuff?
Well, his most high profile follower is -- and you can check his website -- is that bastion of scholarly reason, Charlie Sheen.
I’d like to hear Jones’s theory on what’s behind Sheen’s career collapse.
I don’t understand why some people are so prone to this sort of insanity, and they’re often very smug about it.
It must make them feel intellectually superior to the rest of them to know that moon landing was a hoax, that a race of beings called the Agarthians dwell in Hollow Earth, and that Paul is dead.
They know for a fact the Twin Towers were brought down by explosives planted by government agents and that shape-shifting lizards are behind the New World Order.
I just have trouble believing so many men and women are at once that evil and that competent.
Same goes for the shape-shifting lizards. Can they all be that bad?
So I’m not a skeptic when it comes to Global Warming. I’m skeptical when it comes to all the prevailing conspiracy theories.
Paul’s not dead.
Rational thinking is.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Miss America & Me

She calls and leaves me sweet messages asking if there’s anything I need. She’s young. She’s beautiful. She’s everything that sends an otherwise happily married father straight off the cliff.
And more.
See, this isn’t Britney from down at the Dilly Dally Deli.
This is Miss America.
And she keeps calling me -- as I’ve aggressively been reminding family, friends and indifferent strangers in the checkout line at the local grocery store.
It all started out as an innocuous little msnbc.com travel story about the annual Duct Tape Festival, June 17-19, in Avon, Ohio.
It was assigned as one of those offbeat Americana pieces.
Silly me, I should have realized something about duct tape could lead to a really sticky situation.
The trouble started when I read that 18-year-old Teresa Scanlan, the youngest Miss America in 90 years, was parade grand marshall.
Okay, I thought. I’ll call her up and get a comment about what it’s like barnstorming the country doing all these oddball festivals, make a few snarky observations and be done by lunch.
That’s why her answer to my first question took my breath away.
“Being parade grand marshall at the Duct Tape Festival is like a dream come true,” she gushed. “I’ve loved duct tape since I was just a girl!”
Was she being sarcastic?
“Absolutely not. Pageant rules stipulate I can only be Miss America for one year, but I’m going to see if they’ll let me be Miss Duct Tape for eternity! It’s the world’s greatest product. There’s nothing it can’t do!”
I was floored. But she was utterly sincere.
She told me how she was fascinated as a girl when she heard about kids using Duck Tape (Duck -- quack, quack -- is the brand) to make crafts and even prom dresses.
It became her obsession.
Home schooled in Gering, Nebraska, her parents finally thrust her into the cruel tumult of public education her junior year.
“I started mingling with public school kids and told them all about how much I loved duck tape,” she says. “They thought I was insane.”
I was surprised by a flash of outrage. How dare they.
She said the product helped her construct something essential that goes unmentioned in all the Duck Tape promotional brochures: It helped her build character.
“It taught me it’s okay to be different. The cool kids were all in sports. But I did what I loved and what I was good at and that gave me the confidence to continue in the performing arts.”
By now I was smitten. I wanted to help her. I wanted to tell people about her. I wanted to shine a light on something so good, so pure.
I wanted to run out and buy a roll of Duck Tape.
When she called and left a routine message about a follow-up question, I dashed straight down to the bar and played it for the boys.
Actually, I played it 12 times, pausing to expound on the parts where Miss America said how good it was to talk to me and to get in touch if there was anything else I needed.
How long, I wondered aloud, can I keep this message before it starts getting creepy?
“You crossed into creepy the second time you hit play on the message button.”
I know, I know. I’m all wrong for her. She’s 18, I’m 48. I already have three beauty queens at home. Worst of all, I just got this really bad hair cut.
For nostalgia’s sake, I went to see the family barber Dad started taking me to when I was 6. I stopped going to him because he always cut my hair like I was still 6.
Happened again yesterday. I’d been cultivating a real shaggy mane. He laughed and said I looked like I’d spent the last 15 years on some island reality show.
When I left I looked like a Fox News anchor.
The look might work for the image consultants who’d advise Miss America on the kind of man with whom she should be seen.
But it won’t work for someone as authentic as Teresa Scanlan, a beauty queen who like so many before her yearns for world peace. 
It’s just that she’s unique in believing it can be achieved through a judicious application of duck tape.
She truly believes there’s nothing duck tape can not fix.
Poor kid.
She hasn’t seen my hair cut.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Rabbi is in

I think I'm gonna like this. This is a story that ran in May of 2008 to an audience of maybe two. It's about all the bogus titles I've acquired over the years by donating to various liberal causes that never bother to check if I'm really a doctor, lawyer, etc.

The Sierra Club refers to me with the honorific “Judge Chris Rodell.” The noble lifesavers at Doctors Without Borders address me with collegial charity as “Dr. Rodell.” And it would take a miracle of Biblical proportions for me to respond with the generosity deserving of all the Democratic National Party affiliates who write beseeching “The Reverend Rodell” for a contribution.

If you took all the mailing lists for every left-leaning, tree-hugging, bound to help-the-helpless organizations in the world and rolled them into one, the sum distillation would be one of the most accomplished men in the world. And that would be me. After a lifetime of willful indolence, finally, a man Mom can be proud of.

See, being Mr. Chris Rodell hasn’t exactly worked out for me. No one treats me with anything more than the most perfunctory courtesies.

That’s why I hesitated in 2004 when a donation to the Democratic party required me to check a title. “Dr.” felt like a reach. “Mrs.” would have worked with the wussy unisex name my parents freighted me with at birth, but I wasn’t ready for the possible lifestyle change it might invite and I would have needed a whole new wardrobe.

So I stared at the heavenly option, “Rev.” Remember, 2004 was when Karl Rove and the Republicans frequently claimed they’d been anointed by the Almighty to divinely solve all the world’s problems. I decided to do my part to close the God gap. For my title, I checked “Rev.”

Right away, the new title led to more telephonic respect. One agent for the party called and said, “Reverend Rodell? I’m soooo sorry to bother you, but we really need the help of upstanding community men like you if we’re going to win in November. Can we count on your support and influence?”

By all means. I dashed off a check for $50 and the 2006 congressional elections wound up being an electoral landslide, coincidentally, perhaps. Soon, my name began to sift through the other left-leaning mailing lists. I could sense in their tones that the callers' postures improved when they dialed a holy man like myself.

I liked it.

Of course, there was the inevitable misstep. During the recent Pennsylvania primary, I was besieged by calls from party activists. I lost my patience and reverted back to my Mr. Rodell temper.

“Look,” I told one caller, “I’m gettin’ sick of all these (and I’m paraphrasing here) gol-danged calls. Leave me alone.”

The solicitor let the silence sink in for two beats before saying, “Rev. Rodell?”

“Uh, yes?”

“You should be nicer. People expect more from someone like you.”

He was right. People look up to those involved in pastoral professions, and as I’m finding out, even to ones who pretend to be. If I’m going to be Rev. Rodell, there are certain standards I need to uphold.

So I vowed to make myself a better person, at least in terms of titles. Besides “Judge,” “Dr.,” “Father,” and “Esq,” I was pleased to feel an ecumenical surge of pride when UNICEF bestowed upon me, for $100, the title of “Rabbi.”

I doubt the unfortunates in Myanmar or China will care whether or not Rabbi Rodell is concerned about their plight, but it might open some eyes if, say, he extends a financial olive branch to help aid Palestinian orphans.

Either way, it’s likely I’ll one day leave a remarkable obituary for my survivors to admire. And maybe one day I’ll live up to the reputation of the guy all those money-seeking callers believe me to be.

It’s something you might want to consider next time someone seeks a contribution from you.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. You can take it or leave it.

After all, despite what you might infer from my credentials, I’m really not a preachy kind of guy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Happy B-Day To Bob Dylan & this blog!

Today Bob Dylan turns 70 and this blog turns 3.
It’s certainly presumptuous of me, a not impartial observer, to even make the claim, but of the two it’s this blog that is on track to make the more significant cultural contribution.
First, Dylan has written 458 songs in his life. But he didn’t really write anything until he was about 17 years old.
This post is the blog’s 444th, a near perfect equivalent. So it took Dylan about 53 years to accomplish what this blog’s done in 3.
Compared to Dylan, this blog’s a prodigy.
And only his parents and some farming neighbors in desolate Hibbing, Minnesota, really cared about the boy they knew as Robert Zimmerman (this blog’s not going to have any artsy name change, either; bestowing it with even more gritty street cred).
Guaranteed nobody outside of America had even heard of the boy who became Dylan.
On the contrary, this blog has been enjoyed in 91 countries.
I know this because I obsessively check the blog’s secret “stats” feature. It pretends to tell me which posts are being read, the nations where those readers reside, and the search terms that led them there.
It’s been delightful to see people in Macau, Kenya, Belarus, Iran and even Palestine find their way to the blog. That those hits correspond to search terms like “amish boobs,” “amish blue jeans” and “amish pledge of allegiance” does nothing to diminish the accomplishment.
I’m suspicious of the total numbers and believe they are more substantial than those shown in the home page tally. For instance, the other day, I posted a well-read story about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As soon as it went up, “stats” told me the story was being viewed by 10 people in the U.S., three in Denmark, two in Germany and two in France.
That’s 17 people. Yet stingy “stats” tallied only six site views.
It makes me want to scream at “stats” for its mathematical deficiencies. I’d try and find a more reliable readership survey app but am fearful it would tell me no one’s reading so I stick with fickle “stats.”
I spend a lot of time thinking how I can increase the blog’s readership without being obnoxious.
Should I write more posts with fewer words or vice versa?
I’ll do neither. I may not have an overwhelming number of readers, but I am thrilled with the ones I have. You’re a great and feisty mix of people and I am truly thankful to each of you.
I believe more readers and blog prominence is bound to happen. The feedback is too heartfelt and persistent to ignore.
To me, the best thrill is checking in on “stats” and seeing a huge spike indicating that someone, somewhere, is devoting an hour or two to reading dozens of old posts.
That’s the kind of readers I want.
It’s kind of like the way I gained an appreciation for Dylan, which didn’t happen until 1988 when he was with the Traveling Wilburys. His songs had a joy and humor I’d not previously detected.
Had he had a “stats” page at the time, Dylan would have seen a kid in Pittsburgh was scarfing up for all his old stuff. I think it would have pleased him the way it pleases me.
So that’s one thing I’m going to change. I’m going to continue to write about 700 words three times a week, but I’m also going to be less reluctant about including lively shorter items and tossing some of my old favorites into the mix with an updated preamble.
After all, Dylan doesn’t just play new stuff. No, if you go to see a Dylan show (I’ve seen him 29 times), he’ll play about three new songs and maybe 15 oldies.
The comprehensive www.bobdylan.com says he’s played “Like a Rolling Stone” 1,816 times.
So it’s crazy for me to keep pumping out new stuff while just ignoring a really respectable back catalogue.
What if someone mistakes a new blog as the go-ahead for a pee break?
Will www.EightDaysToAmish.com have a more impressive run than Bob Dylan?
Only time will tell.
Either way, thanks for reading. I hope you’ll continue to check in and refer it to friends whenever you find it worthy.
And you can go ahead and take that pee break now.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Exploding watermelons for exploding population

Lost amidst all last week’s sensational news about celebrity love children, hotel maid-raping bankers and the daily hilarity from Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign was a report with truly global implications.
Chinese watermelons are exploding!
“Entire fields of watermelons have become like land mines,” says Wang Liangju, a professor of horticulture at Nanjing Agricultural University, who blamed the exploding watermelons on the overspraying of the chemical forchlorfenuron, used to make the fruit grow faster and larger.

We can all be grateful this ill-conceived experimentation didn’t start with Chinese cattle farmers or parents who dream of their children following in the size 18 footsteps of NBA star Yao Ming.
The news is important because we’re going to need watermelon the size of Volkswagens if we’re going to feed a world where the only thing exploding more alarmingly than our fruits is our population.
The professor says the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing chemicals in the hopes of growing larger fruits and vegetables more quickly.
The potent chemical is allowed in the U.S. on kiwi fruit and grape, which is a sensible start. Grapes the size of pineapples sounds convenient to me, overlooking the fact we’ll likely need full body bibs to munch just one.
But none of this is going to do anyone any good if forchlorfenuron is some diabolical tease farmers think they can spray on any old thing to instigate tremendous growth. 
If Chinese farmers are anything like American farmers or men in general they’ll spend a lot of time wondering what else they can spray the stuff on to get it to grow to preposterous dimensions. And once this genie gets out of the bottle, watch out.
I’m thinking here of bald men and those cursed by certain masculine insecurities targeted in the commercials they run on all-sports talk radio.
I know lots of men who dream of access to something like forchlorfenuron to rub on their scalps or other parts of their bodies where they spend a lot of time seeking growth or at least girth.
The threat of searing self-detonation would do nothing to dissuade these driven men.
Me, I’d like to see what would happen if I sprayed some if on my savings account.
Really, the perfect solution to all mankind’s problems is to take massive tanks of the chemical up into orbit and use it to seed storm clouds.
If the compound works the way they say it does I’d like to see what would happen if we gave Mother Earth a great big quenching dose of the stuff.
After all, if we keep super-sizing our vegetables the way we’ve been super-sizing our fast food consumers, we’re going to run out of room. 
We’ll need an Earth the size of Jupiter to keep from stepping all over one another.
Think of the advantages.
It would put welcome distance between in-laws who are now an unnerving hour away. An earth energized with forchlorfenuron would extend that skimpy buffer zone to about four days drive one way on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
War in the Middle East would dissipate as cramped, 9-mile wide Israel became as vast and spacious as the Australian outback.
Of course, as we’ve seen, there could be unseemly side effects of applying the tricky chemical. Foremost being that Earth could  . . . explode!
If that’s the risk, well, bring it on.
Modern man must pick our poisons.
Death by cosmic apocalypse seems somehow tidier than getting shredded by seeds, rind and watermelon mush at the Sunday picnic.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Heaven Can Wait

The snarky headlines are already popping up all over creation. My favorite so far: “Apocalypse Not Now!”
I’m not one to so rapidly write off devout people of faith. After all, the Biblical calculations The Reverend Harold Camping relied upon to predict the Rapture never mention leap years.
The other aspect of this that no one seems to have considered is that maybe the Rapture has occurred and there were only like five or six Christians on the planet deemed worthy of saving.
That’s about how many I can name.
I was talking with a Gideon the other day -- and how many people can say that? I’m doing a story about how Gideons have managed to place nearly 2 billion Bibles and New Testaments in so many hotel rooms around the world.
It’s a fascinating movement. I’ve read about and interviewed people who’d entered hotel rooms thinking of suicide and found a Bible they credit with saving their lives.
On the flip side, I also talked to one hotel manager who said she wishes she had a nickel for every time she’s opened a drawer Bible and found a condom stashed inside.
There’s a whole range of stuff going on in our nation’s hotel rooms. Remember to always pack slippers.
I’ve found the Gideons to be sober and serious about their mission and certainly joyful about their impact. They should be proud. I remain disappointed that I didn’t find one Gideon so wildly enthused about Bible distribution that I could declare him or her a Giddy-on.
Maybe that’s a movement ripe for launching.
So I exaggerate when I say there are only five or six Christians worthy of saving.
There are, of course, multitudes that do so much good and I’m proud to have them as friends who, no doubt, pray for my miserable soul.
And I now have a Gideon saying prayers for me, which I find cool.
We concluded a lively interview with me asking all the questions before he turned the tables on me and asked: “Chris, are you a Christian?”
I wonder about myself. If he was a Scientologist or a Hindu and had asked me if I was of either of those faiths, would I have said, “Hell, yes!” just to ensure the story conclusion would be smooth?
I don’t think so.
I guess I’m a Christian who disdains Christians. That’s bad. I really should love my fellow Christians. That tenet is at the heart of my faith.
But I have trouble pulling it off when I see so many Bible-thumping Christians starting wars, hating gays, doubting presidential birth certificates and health care initiatives and pretending God whispers to them things like who He is and isn’t sending to hell.
I see so many Christians saying and doing things that lead me to believe Jesus Christ spends a lot of time in heaven slapping His forehead and lamenting, “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!”
That might be what He was doing every Camping predicted today the world would end.
A friend of mine said he was disappointed I hadn’t written about Camping and the end of the world. I told him nothing gets past this blog.
I wrote about Camping way back on January 3. It’s about why I was looking forward to the Rapture so it would mean goodbye to aspects of earthly Christianity that have always ticked me off.
But since it looks like we’re all going to still be in this together for a while, here are some suggestions for evangelicals like Camping and his forlorn followers to help us get along until the next Doomsday.

• Let the hair grow. Jesus looked like a hippie, but today’s Christian evangelicals look like they all go to the same barber, the one based in Mayberry on TV Land.
• Stop using the oxymoron Christian rock. It may be Christian, but it ain’t rock. When it comes to rock, my sympathy’s for the Devil.
• Remember, having a great relationship with the Lord doesn’t mean you can treat the rest of us like crap.
• Don’t interrupt a really good football game by taking the time to thank God for opening up a hole on the right side allowing you to score. Instead, thank the right tackle.
• Be consistent: Don’t condemn all the gays then extend divine forgiveness when one of your high-profile believers or political supporters gets caught playing footsie in the mens room at the Minneapolis airport.
• Admit the difference between believing and knowing.
• For heaven’s sake, stop predicting an imminent end to a world many of us enjoy with gusto. If you’re going to Rapture, next time please keep it to yourselves.
And don’t let the Pearly Gates hit you on the ass on the way out.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Airlines need scales of justice

Southwest Airlines has issued an apology to two NYC-bound passengers in another “too-fat-to-fly” incident.
I’d be more sympathetic to the airlines if just once I’d heard they’d let a petite little gal fly for half off. 
But pigs will fly before that happens -- and please understand that’s a standard metaphor and let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.
It’s going to cost the same amount to fly a sorority house full of anorexics as it would to fly a rotund team of competitive eaters home from a Kansas City rib fest. 
It makes no sense. But what about our most disappointing industry does these days?
Flying used to be such an elegant pleasure. Passengers would get dressed up. Tasty inflight meals would be served. If anyone was going to touch anyone else’s junk, proper introductions would be made
No more. Today the airlines are all about the bottom line -- even as passenger bottom lines are getting longer and longer. Our jets may be jumbos, but they aren’t designed to accommodate passengers befitting the same description.
I mentioned this on Facebook the other day and Jodi Anne Steiner replied with a brilliant solution: Charge every passenger by cumulative weight: bags and bodies, you name it.
This is sort of what uber-capitalist Steve Forbes used to propose every four years whenever he wanted to spend about $20 million to learn Americans didn’t want him to be president.
He’d suggest we abolish the current ungainly tax code and run the government on a straight sales tax that would mean the people who bought more would pay more. It makes so much sense it never stood a chance.
He called it the flat tax.
For the airlines, we could have the fat tax. I think a buck a pound, or about the same price as ground beef, would be fair. 
A 175-pound adult male checking golf clubs weighing 25 pounds would be charged the same amount as a 125-pound woman toting a 75-pound purse.
And that example is not hyperbole. My otherwise dainty mother’s purse feels like it contains a car jack and spare tire in there with the lipstick and Kleenex.
This would also have enormous benefits in the overall health of America’s flying public.
Vacationers are already motivated to lose weight to look good in summer beachwear. Imagine the lengths they’d go to if they could save $100 by keeping the scale from dinging into the red.
The system would transform morose airports into lively fitness centers with shapely instructors shouting amplified encouragement over the dance music.
Airlines could show they cared by setting up aerobic Zumba classes in extended parking. The terminals would become like carnival midways with colorful hucksters offering quick weight loss concoctions and the more desperate passengers lining up to have unnecessary body parts removed before check-in.
It would be like being in the locker room before the big race as the jockeys try to make weight.
Check-in would have popular game show elements where passengers would mount giant scales behind the ticket agents to be cheered or good-naturedly jeered for their respective efforts or indifference.
Like “The Biggest Loser,” we’d all cheer for individuals who’re really trying their best and have shown they’d be good seat mates.
Of course, there’s bound to be a few obnoxious passengers. You know the type. They’re rude to the employees, indifferent to the needs of others and infuriate the rest of us by trying to and cram hundreds of pounds of baggage into the overheads.
Sadly, they come in all shapes and sizes.
It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s flown recently.
We’ve all seen what happens when pigs fly.