Delayed Reaction

“1 … 2 … 3 … reaction.”

Says my wife, whenever it takes me a moment to register something.

She says it a lot.

But even she would probably be surprised by this one: I just understood something I overheard in first grade. Or maybe second. Not important; either way, we’re talking a three-decade delay.

Remember recess? I loathed recess. I didn’t particularly care for the sweating or the outdoors or the sports or the sun … but mostly I didn’t care for the other children. At that age I was still years away from hearing about a guy named Sartre, but I daresay even then I would have nodded agreement at his line: “Hell is other people.”

During recess, several classes were on the field together. All of them would participate together in general exercises — jumping jacks, torso twists, chopping wood, etc. When that was over, all classes but one would run laps around the recess field. The lucky class would be released to the playground equipment early. Inevitably, some members of that class would climb to the top of the tallest piece of playground equipment and proceed to taunt the running kids.

I’m sure there were many, but the taunting chant that sticks in my memory is: “Run them meatballs!”

Run them meatballs.

For whatever reason — aside from the basic fact that I think entirely too much about entirely too many entirely inconsequential things — I recently remembered that line and realized I have probably been thinking about it the wrong way for 30+ years.

Run them meatballs.

An unspoken subject at the beginning: (You) run them meatballs!

Grammar translation: (You) run [those] meatballs!

Slang translation: (You) run [those] [laps]!

In other words, I always thought it was a chant aimed at the runners.

But, what if the meatballs weren’t the laps, but the kids? What if the chant were directed at the coaches?

Run them meatballs! = (You-coaches) run [those] [overweight kids]!

1 … 2 … 3 … reaction.

Todd Akin, Paragon

Well you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things, well how do you, how do you slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question. First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something. I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be on the rapist and not attacking the child ”

–Todd Akin
12-year member, House of Representatives, Missouri
Candidate for U.S. Senate, Missouri

In the aftermath of this statement, most Republicans have been stumbling over themselves to get away from Akin whilst calling for his withdrawal from the Senate race.


Republicans shouldn’t be running from Akin. They should be embracing him.

If you can get past the egregiously worded, scientifically-challenged, basely offensive words Akin selected, his point is simple: no abortions, no exceptions.

At no point in any of his several apologies has Akin retracted that point: no abortions, no exceptions.

Nor should he.

I understand Republicans — especially Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — trying to put distance between themselves and Akin’s clumsy, uneducated, ill-formed thoughts. You can’t expect to talk like that and appeal to anything approaching a majority of Americans.

Again I say: Cowards.

Akin is being portrayed, even by those within his party, as a member of the fringe.


Akin isn’t some pioneer. He isn’t a fringe figure. He is part of the whole cloth

Aside from his apparent lack of understanding of basic human reproductive biology, and past the illogical words with which he expressed himself, Akin is just your average, regular Republican: no abortions, no exceptions.

Remember that November 6.

Afterword: Inspiration

Regarding the previous post

I listened to Amanda Palmer’s “The Killing Type” this morning.

Elsewhere, I read her explain one lyric: “i once stepped on a dying bird.” 

It was her explanation that brought all of this to mind. It’s not often I write from that sort of inspiration, but there it is, today. (It’s not often I write the why behind a piece, either, but considering the way I read the why behind that lyric, it seems exactly appropriate today.)

(Not) The Killing Type

I murdered a frog, once.

Flung a stone and spattered it to pieces.

Then wanted desperately to take it back, rewind time just a few moments.

Back before the other boys laughed and threw their stones, cajoled me to throw mine.

“Get him!” “Get him!”

I should have thrown wide, deliberately.

Or, better, I shouldn’t have picked up the stone.

Or, best, I shouldn’t have spent time with boys like those.


I murdered a bird, once.

Raised the rifle, shattered it to feathers

Then wondered, disbelieving what I had done.

As the other boys congratulated me.

“Great shot!” “Nice one!”

We were hunting squirrels, not songbirds.

And I wondered why I had done it.

And I aimed to miss the rest of day.


I killed a deer, once.


I missed more often.

As the other boys consoled me.

“Too bad. “Next time.”

I did not consciously miss them. (I did not aim to miss.)

I think my conscience missed them. (I might have aimed, amiss.)

And still remorse hunting for a purpose, for venison.


I killed a pastime.

Let it go, watched it drift.

Let my father believe I wasn’t interested.

Let him think, like the other boys, that I was too good for it, anymore.

“City boy.” “College boy.”

Every bit of that is true, of course.

But, mostly, I remember the frog and the bird.

And the truth is, I’m not the killing type.