The Breakfast Table

Boys ‘R’ US

Thanks a lot. I bring you breakfast in bed and you repay me by airing our (literally) dirty laundry. First, for our readers, I should explain Vegemite, the bane of the Australian breakfast table. It’s a vile yeast-extract concoction that looks like axel grease, and tastes like it, too. You smear it on bread (or, in Natty’s case, on bedsheets). It’s mostly salt and more addictive than crack; all of Australia is hooked on the junk, as am I, having sampled it while living there a decade ago and being unable to kick the habit since.

As to Natty and guns, give it up, girl. It’s hard-wired. Need I remind you of our friend Sarah, whose attempts to raise her sons without guns ended when one of them stood over the toilet and said, “Mommy, have you noticed how my penis sort of looks like a gun?”? Or Rich, my college roommate, now a psychology professor, who brought the classroom into his home by banning all firearms? When I went to visit, one of his sons greeted me at the door by announcing, “Would you like to see my 26 medieval weapons?” The entire weekend was like an outtake from Braveheart, as he and his brother battered each other with broadswords, axes, maces, scimitars, arrows, garrotes–everything but boiling oil.

As to modern arsenals, I suspect the impending air war over Yugoslavia will be less of a cakewalk than the one in Iraq. If our pilots can’t even avoid ski-slope cables on training flights in Italy, how are they going to negotiate all those hostile mountain military sites in Serbia? And if we rely instead on drones and cruise missiles, which inevitably bring “collateral” casualties, it will be interesting to see if Americans respond differently to the sight of European civilians being blown apart, rather than Arabs.

Speaking of Arabs, I, too, was amused by the reports of Hillary in Cairo, stepping gingerly around the squalor, and around our ally’s aversion to democracy. Remember the election we covered there back in 1987? As I recall, Hosni Mubarak won with 99.1 percent, and it was a very easy story to cover. The Egyptians accidentally released the results the day before the actual vote. The Serbs, at least, hold elections with a semblance of democracy.