The Breakfast Table

The March of the Million M’s

Yes, that was some plane conversation. I’m glad I sounded calm. I didn’t feel calm.

This has been a week of near-death experiences hasn’t it? Your plane nearly crashed; I was struck by that car in New York on Monday. … Tell me, do you think this is God’s way of telling us to observe Shavuot a little more rigorously this year? Or something else?

I like, though, your pilot’s soft-spoken “I’m busy just now.” (Gosh, he sounded like us talking to the children: “Mommy, my hair’s on fire.” “Mummy’s very busy now, sweetie.”) Do you think airline pilots are the last people in America who still practice understatement? One of the many stories that you haven’t commented on today–I know, I know, sipping daiquiris at poolside doesn’t leave much time for reading the papers, Slate or no Slate–is the best example yet of the triumph of hype. I quote from the first sentence of the top story in today’s Washington Post Internet edition: “Supporters of the Million Mom March, which is expected to draw tens of thousands to the Mall on Sunday …”

What’s going on here? Has “million” become a term of art in which anybody with a cause–no matter how little it stirs the public–can announce the existence of a “Million Something That Begins with ‘M’” movement? Will janitors seeking pay raises announce a “Million Mop” march? The National Geographic Society summon a “Million Map” march? Fans of Internet pornography a “Million Modem” march?

Nor do I quite understand why groups that don’t use the “M” acronym fail to get the benefit of the numerical doubt from the press in the way the anti-gun Million Moms have done. The most optimistic estimate of the number of Million Moms who will arrive this weekend is 150,000. Even if that figure is met (and such figures very seldom are) it will mean that the Million Moms will have drawn fewer than half the number of demonstrators that the Right to Lifers draw every single year–and they come in January! Yet the Right to Lifers merit (at best) only Metro front mention. They never rate network coverage. The Million Moms will.

Meanwhile the NRA has gained 700,000 members over the past 15 months and is now about to crack the 4 million mark. (Hey: How about a Million Mauser march?) Speaking of which, I realize I’ve forgotten to send our membership application in: Last week, when I was still Mr. Dad rather than Mr. Mom, I promised the kids that we’d enroll them in shooting class if they would submit to dancing lessons.

By now, you ought to be on the plane back to Washington. Fly safely, sweetheart.