What Are The Odds?

Last weekend, while Kasey and I were out for a walk, we passed a toilet that had been placed out by the side of the road, with a sign on it that read “Free Toilet — It Works!”  When we passed by the same place a day or two later, the toilet and its tank were gone.

IMG_0559It was, of course, a nice gesture for the prior owner of the toilet to put it by the side of the street and offer it for free to any toilet-needy person.  But, what are the odds that a person in dire need of a new toilet would come by at that precise window of time, see the available toilet, and take it away before it was carted off by the authorities offended by the presence of a discarded toilet on a residential street?

It seems like it would be very long odds.  But what if it did happen?

Ben, a driver in a battered pick-up:  “Myrtle, I know I promised we could get you a new toilet to replace that lime green commode back when we installed the green and yellow shag carpeting.  That toilet has served us long and well.  But I invested all of our money in those courses from Trump University.  I’m afraid we just can’t afford a new toilet right now!”

Myrtle, his long-suffering wife:  “I know, Ben, but I have faith that the training you received from Trump University will help us become enormously successful one day.  I’m sure the payback will be huge.  Huge!”

Ben:  “Still, I feel like a failure.  What kind of husband can’t give his wife a new toilet when she wants one?  It makes me feel like a man with small hands!”

Myrtle, looking embarrassed and desperately wanting to change the subject:  “Say, I’ve always wanted to drive through German Village.  What do you say?”

Ben:  “Fine.  This street looks like a nice one.”

Myrtle:  “Ben, wait!  What’s that flash of white porcelain up ahead!  Could it be?”

Ben:  “Oh my God!  It’s a toilet! And the sign says it’s free and it works!”

Myrtle:  “And it’s white, too!  We’re moving up, Ben!  Hallelujah!  With the Trump University training and a new, free, high-class white toilet, nothing can stop us now!”

Sure, the odds are incredibly long that this scenario happened.  But with what’s going on in politics right now, I’m convinced nothing is impossible.

O.J. Obsession

Yesterday a news story was published about Los Angeles police testing a knife that purportedly was found buried on the property at O.J. Simpson’s former estate.  Immediately the story was put at the top of news websites, and people started talking, again, about the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

video-ynewskatiecouric-com2c5d3a12-51e9-308f-9110-e679c43c4a71_fullThe purported knife find story, and the possibility that the knife has anything to do with the murders, seems wildly unlikely.  What I found most unsettling, however, was how the story immediately brought back all of the extremely weird elements of the O.J. Simpson murder trial story and reintroduced them into the national narrative, from the slow-motion Bronco chase to the hangers-on at the Simpson estate to the racial elements of the investigation and trial to the glove that wouldn’t fit and finally to the verdict.

When the trial was going on those decades ago, the country seemed absolutely obsessed with it, and most people who were adults when the verdict was announced will be able to tell you exactly where they were when they heard that Simpson was acquitted.  I didn’t even follow the trial that much, but I certainly can — I was in the Flatiron restaurant in Columbus, just finishing lunch with a shocked group of colleagues.  It’s embarrassing that the O.J. Simpson verdict is one of those special memory incidents, right there with the JFK assassination and the first plane flying into one of the Towers on 9/11.

It’s hard to understand, now, why the O.J. Simpson trial commanded such enormous attention.  He was a former football star and sometime movie actor accused of a horrific crime against his former wife, sure — but what was it that provoked such intense interest? Apparently, it was the combination of murder and celebrity and Hollywood and race and heavy media coverage, and probably a few other factors thrown in, too.  I wasn’t happy to read the story about the alleged knife find and talking once more about the murders, and I have no interest whatever in watching the O.J. Simpson miniseries.  The Simpson trial and verdict told us something about the country, then, something that seems strange and frivolous and almost alien now.  I don’t want to relive it.