How Could I Know?

October 23rd, 2009

carrier_pigeon1Opinion Forum has been around for almost a year, and during that time we’ve received thousands of comments. Two or three times, someone has countered my opinion not with logic or reasoned argument but with a comment to the effect that since I’m in Europe most of the time, how could I possibly know what’s happening in the U.S.?

That’s a serious question that deserves a serious response.

I spend a couple of months a year in the U.S., where I have medical check-ups, get prescriptions at Walgreen’s, wander aimlessly around a cavernous Wal-Mart searching for this or that widget, stroll wide-eyed through mega-malls, munch at Taco Bell, listen to talk radio live while I’m driving around, watch Fox News on TV, and generally wallow in the everyday business of American life.

However, I augment that direct experience with probably three or four hours a day reading U.S. and sometimes foreign news and commentary from both left and right.  How, you might ask, could I do that, since I’m usually way over the ocean in the wilds of Europe?  Well, I’ll tell you my secret, but keep it to yourself.

carrier_pigeon2Carrier pigeons.  That’s right, carrier pigeons.  I have three of them — Dudley, Sweet Nelly, and their son, Pinckney. (That’s Sweet Nelly on the left, Dudley on the right, and Pinckney with his back to the camera, as usual.)

Each day, one of them flies over to Washington, one is on the way back, and one is having a rest day.  On the return trip, they bring back various newspapers, magazines, and eight-track tape cassettes of TV news programs.

It’s a long flight over the ocean, and their little backpacks are chock-full.  They’re usually exhausted when they arrive, their feathers all ruffled from the jet stream.  Once in a while, though, they’re lucky enough to hitch a ride on an airplane.  If you’re ever crossing the ocean on an airliner and see a pigeon with a backpack on the leading edge of the wing, leaning forward into the airflow with his little body covered in ice crystals, that will be one of my guys.

The system works pretty well, but there are glitches now and then.  One time Dudley was three days overdue, and Sweet Nelly, understandably, was beside herself with worry.  When he finally showed up, all bedraggled and with lipstick smeared on his beak, there was hell to pay.  She never bought that story about being kidnapped by a crazed, love-starved protester on the Mall in Washington.

Anyway, on those rare days when the duty bird doesn’t show up, I reluctantly go to my fallback source of news and information — a very fast broadband internet connection.

I also have a fat wire coming into my apartment that’s connected to the TVs.  I call it a “cable.”  CNN is on most of the time, but sometimes I watch trashy U.S. TV programs.

I know it’s not the same as reading the papers at my kitchen table every day with Fox News keeping me company, but I do the best I can.

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Categories: Humor, Media, News, Politics | Comments (7) | Home

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7 Responses to “How Could I Know?”

  1. Brianna |

    Thanks for the laughs Tom. I needed that.

  2. Clarissa |

    Sometimes being out of the country for a while can give you a very fresh and original perspective that it is often hard to form when you are right in the thick of things.

    So even if you decide to give your cute pigeons a vacation, I’m sure you will still be able to keep writing great posts.

  3. larry |


  4. Andrea |

    This is excellent!!! 🙂 Goes in line with the Ministry of silly walks…

  5. Kevin |

    LOL nice

  6. Tom |

    Andrea, interesting you should mention the Ministry of silly walks. Dudley and Pinckney love Monty Python, but Sweet Nelly disapproves. She thinks they should be reading great books to improve their minds. Cat, meanwhile, keeps dreaming about pigeons for lunch….

    To watch the great Monthy Python silly walks bit, click here.

  7. Harvey |

    Great satire!

    While out of the country I’ll bet you get more important information from trash TV than you do from CNN don’t you? LOL!

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