By Fr. George Welzbacher
March 22, 2009
Given that this is the weekend when we celebrate Laetare Sunday-Laetare is Latin for Rejoice!- a little lightening up in the Pastor's Page may not be out of place. The following fantasy, the transcript of an imaginary interview on TV's call-in show "Larry King Live!", dated March 19, 2010, comes to us courtesy of gallows humorist Rob Long, whose one-page flights of fancy are a treasured feature of the conservative journal The National Review.
* * * * *By. Rob Long
The Long View
From National Review: Larry King Live!
(Imaginary) Transcript: March 19, 2010
LARRY KING: From Concord, California! Hello!
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I'd just like to say to the family on your show that I thank them for what they're doing and hope that they can get to a good place, like, um, a joyful place, with their situation.
LARRY KING: Good thought, caller. Well, gang? Can you? Is this a situation where you say, hey, life's tough but, you know, look what we got? We got each other and that good stuff. Henry?
HENRY PETERSON: Well, yeah, sure, Larry. I mean, we've got our health and whatnot. Tbat's not what this is about.
LARRY KING: Michelle, you look angry. What's eating you?
MICHELLE PETERSON: Yeah, Larry, I am sort of angry. I mean, yeah. At first, Henry and I were paying our mortgage and we were like, "Okay, I guess we're like the only ones in America who are actually paying their mortgage," and we'd laugh about it because, you know, that was like a joke, right? I mean, how could we be the only people in America paying their mortgage, right?
LARRY KING: And so what happened when you found out that you were the only people in America paying their mortgage?
HENRY PETERSON: Well, you know, Larry, it's not like anyone called us.
MICHELLE PETERSON: No. The bank didn't tell us..
HENRY PETERSON: We saw it on Anderson Cooper.
MICHELLE PETERSON: I was sitting in the den and I was watching the news and all of a sudden I was like, "Is that our house?"
HENRY PETERSON: And that's when I noticed all the vans and news guys out front.
MICHELLE PETERSON: Parking all over the place. Tearing up the lawn.
HENRY PETERSON: And I was shouting, "Hey! I pay for that lawn! "
MICHELLE PETERSON: It was a nightmare. Seriously.
LARRY KING: Tomorrow night! Nancy Pelosi sings Rodgers and Hart! From Westlake, Ohio, Hello!
CALLER: Hey Larry. Hey, Henry and Michelle. I was just wondering why you guys didn't sign up for that free-mortgage thing? My wife and I did and we're loving it. The forms were pretty easy to fill out, too. It was just like this one question, "Would you like someone else to pay your mortgage?" And then there were these two boxes below it, one was yes and the other was no, and so me and my wife, we checked, like, the yes box and so basically, that sort of took care of that situation. Wondering why you guys didn't get into that.
LARRY KING: Henry, you look angry.
HENRY PETERSON: Well it's something we just didn't do. For whatever reason. Right, Michelle?
MICHELLE PETERSON: Henry, please, we've been over this.
LARRY KING: Tension City. Had this with wife number five. Didn't end well. What's up?
HENRY PETERSON: Go ahead, tell him.
MICHELLE PETERSON: Fine. Okay. It's my fault, okay, Larry? I was supposed to fill out the form. I was supposed to do all of that.
HENRY PETERSON: No, no. Don't put it like that. You were the one who said, "Hey Henry, the president has a program to have someone else pay our mortgage," and I said, "Okay, Michelle, please look into it because I'm busy trying to figure out our taxes," and then you said, "Okay Henry, I'll do it." I'll do it. Those were your exact words. Exact words, Michelle.
MICHELLE PETERSON: Fine. Fine. And you know what? I own that, okay? My bad. I filled out the forms too late, and by the time they got to our application, everybody else's mortgage was being paid and we were shut out. But since you brought it up, let's talk about taxes, okay?
HENRY PETERSON: Can we move on?
MICHELLE PETERSON: No! No! Let's talk about it. Larry, did you know that there's only one family in America still paying their income taxes?
LARRY KING: Can't say as I did.
MICHELLE PETERSON: Well, you're looking at it. Me and Henry. Because somebody was too busy down at'the store to figure out how to get into that new no-taxes bracket.
HENRY PETERSON: I was busy! Larry, I run a small business! I didn't have time to sort through all of those new tax things.
MICHELLE PETERSON: So not only are we the only people in America paying their mortgage, we're also the only people in America paying their income taxes.
LARRY KING: Weird! I got a business manager, he handles all of that for me. From Beaumont, Texas, hello!
CALLER: Hey Larry. I was wondering if the Petersons have had any reaction from their neighbors.
LARRY KING: Good question. Any thanks or something? A pot luck in your honor?
MICHELLE PETERSON: Are you kidding?
HENRY PETERSON: They snicker at us. We're laughingstocks.
MICHELLE PETERSON: We actually got a visit from Child Protective Services, because they were worried that the twins were being raised by a couple that was seriously mentally impaired.
LARRY KING: Well, you're paying your mortgage and your taxes. What do you expect people to think? This weekend! Celebrities you're surprised aren't dead yet! With Ryan Seacrest!
* * * * *Mr. Long is a clever writer, with a wonderful ear for clichés . But after the chuckles have come and gone, sobriety lingers and perhaps a touch of bitter sadness, which is not surprising when our gaze is fixed simply on this world. One is reminded of the ancient Latin adage: Moritur et ridet. As he dies, he laughs. The joy of the spirit, the joy for which St. Paul exhorts us to pray, the joy that comes from surrender to the will of God, is a much deeper thing, serene and persisting even in a time of affliction. May that joy, the joy of the spirit, be yours on this Laetare Sunday and throughout the year!