Here’s this week’s episode of The Port City Chronicle, the continuing serial novel of Gretchen, a 46-year-old criminal defense lawyer, and her family and friends, seeking love and happiness in Portland the hard way:
“Those guys are such naysayers,” Grace said. “I want to say to them don’t worry, something is going to go right.”
She’d just come home from another protest and had run into Ethan and Tim in the living room, sitting around dismally, as usual, talking about how everything was going to shit under Trump without actually doing anything about it.
They had briefly joined a 350.org committee to help organize support for renewable energy but they didn’t last more than a couple of weeks.
“You’re going to be kicked off the committee,” Ethan told Tim after their first meeting. “You’re not paying attention to what anyone else is saying.”
Tim shrugged. “That may be but at least I’m constantly angry. You really need someone who’s constantly angry on a committee.”
When they missed the third meeting and it survived without them, they decided they weren’t needed enough to bother going again. Supposedly they wanted to concentrate their protest energies where the need was greatest.
The real problem was the supply was so limited. Granted conservation is the best energy policy, but Tim and Ethan took it to an extreme, barely getting off the couch despite the emergency situation with Trump’s anti-environment agenda.
Only Grace had truly grasped the concept of renewable energy. Every petition drive, phone bank, and committee meeting she went to revitalized her and inspired her to do more.
Among other excuses for doing nothing, Tim claimed he was too busy trying to make a living, walking the neighbors’ dogs for example.
Meanwhile, the dogs did a lot more lying around than actually walking, same as their supposed caretaker.
One of them protested by trying to sneak out when Grace came home.
“Grab her, she doesn’t have her collar,” Tim called critically from the couch, as the dog ran past him.
I hurried after her. “We take it off in the house. Would you want to wear a collar?”
“Has that been proposed?” he asked, putting his hands anxiously to his neck.
He was too busy listening to some sort of experimental drum music to get up himself.
“How would you rate this album?” he asked Ethan.
“I give it a 9.”
He’s been more generous toward the arts since Trump announced the end of the NEA.
“It’s out of 5.”
“You can’t do the math?”
I suspected Ethan’s protest spirit was also dampened by his stock market gains.
“In the last two months, my investment account went from $50,000 to $52,000.”
Tim nodded approvingly. “So you won $2,000 dollars. Not bad.”
“They call it interest, actually.”
But Grace wasn’t very interested in hearing about it. For some reason, she’s upset stocks that have gone up based on the planned rollback of Clean Air and Water Act regulations, along with worker protections. Not to mention Trump’s plan for a massive increase in spending on weapons and coal burning power plants.
“What do you plan to spend the money on? A gas mask?”
But Ethan didn’t plan on spending it. He was just excited to be richer.
“What I love about interest is you don’t have to do anything for it. Like manna falling from heaven.”
Grace glared at him.
“Even manna turns a little sour after it sits for a while.”
She wasn’t just talking about the money he made in the stock market.
“So now you can buy even more beer. Won’t that be great?”
Ethan didn’t get the sarcasm.
“Not today. I was out late last night at a party and got overserved. And if they could please give me back my Amex card.”
Then he noticed Grace’s expression. “What? You have a problem with making money in the stock market?”
Grace rolled her eyes. “Don’t you see this is the whole problem with our system? Our economy’s dependent on people making and selling widgets and it doesn’t even matter if they’re destroying us.”
“You can’t blame me,” Tim said, raising his hands defensively. “In my whole life, I’ve never made one single widget.”
Not that economists have any better understanding of it.
“The least you could do is give up meat if Trump rolls back the auto emission standards we need to meet our climate treaty obligations,” Grace said, as Ethan got up to make hamburgers for himself and Tim for lunch.
Ethan looked at her skeptically.
“We’re asking people to give up meat until Trump agrees to keep the Paris climate treaty. If everybody quit eating meat it would make up for the extra carbon pollution from cars and power plants. Did you realize that? That’s how polluting animal agriculture is to the environment.”
“Then what am I going to eat for lunch?” Ethan said, rolling his eyes.
Angela opened the fridge. “Why don’t you make vegetables? You never eat a single vegetable unless I make you. If I die would you ever eat a vegetable?”
He chuckled. “Course not. That’s why men die right after their wives. Because once their wife’s dead all they eat is meat and buttered bread.”
Apparently, he wasn’t going to join the protests even to the extent of giving up a hamburger for lunch.
“Come on,” Angela said to Tim. “Eat beans instead of a hamburger. At least you usually do everything I say.”
Tim sighed. “Yes, for fear or hope of punishment.”
Angela put the hamburger back in the fridge. “Tell you what – I’ll make you a nice veggie lunch. Beans and rice with lots of hot sauce. And do you want cilantro on your beans?”
Ethan shrugged. “I don’t know. Just make it taste good. It’s not up to me to tell you how.”
That was the last straw for Grace. “You’re seriously not going to do anything to resist Trump?”
Ethan threw up his hands. “I’m resisting. I hate him, I hate everything about him, okay?”
“No, not okay,” Grace said. “You have to do something. Resisting is doing something. Everything else is whining.”
“Well, I’m not going to give up meat,” Ethan said and Tim agreed.
“Then do something else.”
But it was hard to know if either of them really would.
“Very little is as satisfying as griping and whining,” Tim said, “but you have to find the right gripe to make the right whine.”