Operation Unspill the Milk
Thursday, April 8 2004
I was driving out to Sharon, Connecticut this morning and, crossing the Kingston-Rhinebeck bridge over the Hudson, I heard a familiar voice coming out of the CB Radio (which was tuned, as always, to the trucker channel, 19). "Breaker One Nine," said the voice, "What channel am I on?" The voice had a funny affectation, a screwy cartoonish personality designed for trolling the CB radio world. The voice asked this question repeatedly from the bridge all the way out to Route 308. It was a nonsensical provocation of feigned newbieness; anyone using the phrase "breaker one nine" appropriately already knows he's on Channel 19. Possibly this voice came from someone moving in traffic with me, though I suspected it was actually a crank working from a base station in a dwelling north of Rhinebeck. I say this voice was familiar, because I'd heard it once before when crossing the Kingston-Rhinebeck Bridge.
Later as I passed through Pine Plains, I saw numerous yellow ribbons tied to trees and telephone poles. These were the first yellow ribbons I'd seen of the ongoing war in Iraq. As an expression of uncertainty and dread by military families, they are one of the surest signs that a war is going badly.
Throughout the day I had trouble prying myself away from web news sources as I obsessively monitored the unraveling US occupation of Iraq. It was hard not to be inspired by those crazy Shi'ites as they donned black masks and threw themselves up against helicopter gunships and other superpower parapharnalia. Interestingly, I got the feeling I wasn't the only American feeling this excitement. Despite the fact that "our boys" are over there in harm's way fighting these misguided Iraqis, the news coverage of the insurgents seemed almost sympathetic. But how can it not be? These guys practically define "underdog," and we're over there in their country maintaining an essentially illegal occupation, the reasons for our invasion having long ago been proved false.
I had to laugh when I read the name of the latest "operation" in Iraq, the one designed to quell the quickly-spreading uprising. It's been dubbed "Operation Resolute Sword." What moron comes up with these names? If this was the title of a movie, it's doubtful that even Mel Gibson would want to star in it. I particularly hate the term "resolute." It's a lot like "patriot," something someone claims to be when his motives are suspect. And George W. Bush, normally no fan of multisyllabic Latinate words, uses it an awful lot.
A better name for "Operation Resolute Sword" might be "Operation Put the Genie Back in the Bottle." Or perhaps "Operation Unspill the Milk." Or simply "Operation Humpty-Dumpty." I can't wait for "Operation Say We Won and Leave" or "Operation Admit We Fucked Up."
On my way home from Sharon later this evening, I drew inspiration from the CB radio crank I'd heard this morning and repeatedly used channel 19 to broadcast statements such as, "I am Shi'ite Muslim. I am from Iraq. I come to get you Americans. Mu hu hu hu ha ha ha!" I gradually changed the affection from a bad take on an Arab accent to a voice spoken while inhaling (a skill at which I excel). But I only started getting feedback for my subversive broadcasts as I neared the New York Thruway. These mostly took the form of simple gasps mixed with chuckles.
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