MYSTERIOUS BRIEFING
Mystery of the Bruise

Oct. 25 - I had sole responsibility for Molli for five hours Sunday afternoon. Not long after Trine got home she asked if I knew what was wrong with Molli's wrist.

Wrong?

"Come look, it's some kind of bruise or something."

I examined the bruise. It was a red-and-purple bruise on the forearm just below the wrist. It was entirely under the skin. I wondered if maybe I'd twisted her hand wrong or something while struggling to entertain her earlier in the day.

"I didn't see that before," I said, feeling terrible for not having noticed such a glaring injury—one that I had surely caused through my own negligence and would eventually lead to my losing custody of Molli and being drummed out Denmark.

"What do you think it could be?" Trine asked.

I didn't volunteer the information that it might have been me. I thought it would be better to think through all the possibilities before indicting myself. The bruise didn't seem to be troubling Molli, after all. She didn't wince if we touched it, or even pressed it, so we determined it wasn't very serious. But still.

Half an hour passed as we mulled it over. Sunday nights are our pizza nights. We munched our pizzas in silence while Molli tormented one of her toys on the divan with reckless glee.

* * *

On a totally unrelated note, ubesejret is Danish for undefeated. You know what I'm talking about, New York fans. Twenty-one consecutive victories. The only undefeated team in the AFC. Baseball. Football. Who's your daddy?

* * *

Flashback. Friday night. Molli's lying on the divan, entertaining herself with her stuffed animal friends while Trine throws a meal together in the kitchen. I'm reading a book on the living room sofa, keeping half an eye on Molli. I get up to join Trine in the kitchen and on my way I glance at Molli to see what she's up to.

What she's doing is cute and makes me laugh.

"What?" Trine asks.

"She's staring at her hand," I say. "It's cute."

"Really?"

"Yeah. I mean, she's just kind of holding her hand up in front of her face and checking it out, but it's cute. Like she's thinking, 'What the hell is this thing? Is it mine?'"

"That's a major development step!" Trine exclaimed. "Are you sure she was really looking at her hand?"

I was. Apparently I ought to have been thrilled. Trine said that, assuming I weren't exaggerating, Molli's interest in her hand meant she would probably start grasping and clutching things soon.

Which she did, pretty much from that point forward. (When I recollect that glimpse of her inspecting her hand, I see it in slow motion, accompanied by Also Sprach Zarathusra.)

All weekend long she's been grabbing out at Willie the Cat in particular, since he has the most grabbable parts. Once she secures a grip, she drags him on top of her face and sucks his fur until she remembers that fur doesn't taste very good, at which point she either flips him away or, if he doesn't flip easily, she screams bloody murder until one of us comes over and unlatches him from her iron grip.

She's also got a rough idea that this technique can be used with a pacifier if it pops out of her mouth. She struggles to work it back toward her mouth and usually gets it in the vicinity, but never with the proper alignment. She usually ends up with the nipple in her eye or the handle in her ear. She then becomes upset and sucks her sleeve, her blanket, or her arm until one of us replaces the pacifier properly—a process we refer to as "corking the kid."

* * *

You have now been given all the information you need to solve the Mystery of the Bruise. Think you've got it? The solution appears below...

* * *

The new Moronic Message Board exists. It's much easier on the eyes than the old one, and more easily navigable than the Halo comments system on MoronAbroad. Please take a look, start a conversation, join one (if there are any), argue with someone, rage at the world, lurk, whatever. And by all means let me know if there are any particular topics you'd like to see set up over there. I plan on actually participating on this board... not like the original one, which I visited about once a year.

* * *

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago on MoronAbroad that I'd cast my overseas ballot and mailed it in. I didn't mention how easy it was to complete that ballot. All I had to do was fill in the circles underneath the names of the candidates I wanted to vote for and not leave stray marks in the circles under candidates I didn't want to vote for. The instructions were concise.

I mention this because amid all the brouhaha in the European coverage of the election there've been a few bits on American expats complaining about the complexity of their ballots and the difficulty of completing them—and their fears that they were being deliberately disenfranchised. EuroCNN actually featured an interview with an opera singer in Paris who was so frightened her vote wouldn't be counted that she decided to fly to New York to cast her ballot in person on election day.

Naturally, most of the European expats being interviewed in these segments are Kerry supporters, many of whom seem to believe that the complications besetting them have been deliberately thrown in their way by a malignant Bush administration. EuroCNN does not explain that the executive branch of the federal government has nothing to do with the design, production, distribution, or collection of those ballots.

On Sunday there was a EuroCNN show called "Election 2004: The Vote Abroad" (or something). It was moderated by the twitchiest of the twitchy EuroCNN reporters. The purpose of the program was ostensibly a discussion of how American expats in Europe were planning to vote, and how domestic American politics affected their local expatriate lives, but the thing came off as a referendum on the questions the EuroMedia love to ask: how can anyone take that smug little monkey of a president seriously? Why hasn't George II already been dragged away to make room for that marvelous Kerry fellow? Did you know Kerry speaks French? I'll give EuroCNN credit, however, for including some actual conservatives on the panel. That was a thoughtful touch, since during the entire show there wasn't one audience question or statement supportive of George Bush.

No, this broad cross-section of "Expat Americans in Europe," brought together in Berlin by EuroCNN to discuss these important questions, consisted entirely of Kerry supporters from France and Germany.

You know: the real Europe.

American expats in Europe have traditionally voted Republican by a 3:1 ratio. Of course, that may not be a valid statistic because it includes countries beyond France and Germany.

* * *

All of this leads into what I really wanted to say, which is this: President Bush is going to win re-election in a very big way. He is going to win the popular vote by a significant margin—more than the margin by which Clinton defeated Dole—and he is going to win the Electoral vote by an overwhelming margin.

Why do I say this? Because I believe that while the American (and European) left has gone absolutely foamy over this election, wailing and gnashing their teeth and declaring pre-emptive fraud and so on, conservative and centrist Americans have mostly kept their mouths shut. That's a generalization, but I don't think that's an overgeneralization. I'm talking about this kind of phenomenon. The squeaky wheel may get the grease, but it still only gets one vote (most of the time).

Of course there are loud partisan conservatives. I'm not saying that volume and rage are uniquely liberal phenomena—I'm saying that the left's hysteria is getting all the media attention while quiet people going about their business and privately planning to vote for Bush don't get much coverage. American conservatives in Europe certainly keep a low profile.

I don't blame the media for this. They go where the stories are. "5,000 People in Exuberant Clothing Chant 'Bush Is An Asshat'" is much more fun than "10,000 People Lead Quiet, Dignified Lives While Planning to Vote for Bush." Lefty writers and performers threatening to leave the country in the event of a Bush victory make for much more interesting reading than righty writers and performers keeping their mouths shut so as not to alienate their producers, directors, publishers, editors, and agents. Outraged singers and talkshow hosts who think their first amendment rights have been violated are more theatrical than the humble audiences who decide to express their disagreement by means of no longer tuning in or buying their music.

I'm guessing the mainstream media will be incredulous at Bush's eventual margin of victory. They'll declare the whole thing suspect simply because no one they knew voted for Bush. But the way things are going now, I honestly believe there are a lot of Americans like myself, abroad and at home, biting their tongues and itching to vote.

* * *

Here's the solution to the Mystery of the Bruise: it was the result of her frantically sucking on her wrist. She'd given herself a hickey.

* * *

I'd like to thank everyone who wrote in with suggestions for overcoming these sinus headaches. I was especially pleased to see how many people consider whiskey a viable medicine.

I always thought it was just me.

* * *

Today is the birthday of Tracy Nelson (1963), Helen Reddy (1941), Billy Barty (1924), Minnie Pearl (1912), Leo G. Carroll (1892), Pablo Picasso (1881), and Georges Bizet (1838).

It's Labour Day in New Zealand, Thanksgiving in Grenada, and National Retrospection Day in Taiwan.

Happy Monday!

2004, The Moron's Almanac™

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