Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: Winky the bichon frise who DGAF, RBG returns with a vengeance, and Trump has too much time on his hands.
David was on the local news! The circumstances for the news report weren't good, but for his fame-obsessed husband this is an excellent development. I love being on the news! When you are on the local news, you get to play a fun game called "Who do I know that actually watches television?" It's never who you think. A couple years ago I was on the Fox affiliate on a Sunday and afterward I went to Rite Aid looking for a Baltimore magazine (I was in an article inside. That's not a detail that's pertinent to the story, but I'm letting you know because I'm shameless.) When I walked into Rite Aid a man yelled at me "Nice job this morning!" I ignored him because as Tina Turner says in "Proud Mary", "We neva, eva do nothing nice and easy." The man said it again, louder. I turned to him, "Me?" He got indignant. "You see anybody else in here who was on the news?!" Love to have hostile interactions with fans.
Anyway, that was a lot of preamble about me and this is about David. It will also be about me though because this newsletter has my name on it so my hands are really tied.
Most of the time when someone is on the local news, they've either done something bad or seen something happen or won a local eating contest. None of that applies to David, though can you imagine if I was writing this newsletter to tell you that my Eagle Scout, pastor/therapist husband robbed a bank and they released a sketch of him on the news and it was super cute and so I asked them to send me a copy so I could have it framed? It's more likely than you'd think.
David was on the news (and in the newspaper!) because two signs at his church--one welcoming and affirming LGBTQ people and the other expressing solidarity and support for the church's Muslim and immigrant neighbors--were vandalized with hate speech last Sunday night. This is the third time the church has been targeted like this: once the signs were stolen and another time they received a threatening and abusive phone call. David and the church administration sprung into action, organizing a rally for this morning and building coalitions with community organizations. Something new needed to happen, they felt, because this was the third instance and because the response David had previously gotten from... some... parties who are tasked with protection was very bad. I am being awkwardly cautious here because I don't really know what I can and can't say. I'm not sure if you're aware of this from the shady, GIF-filled articles I write about the C-list flop in the White House and his band of cartoon villains, but political deftness is not really my thing. I am never running for any sort of office (unless I get so famous that I become a caricature of myself fueled only by megalomania and surrounded by yes-men. So, a goal). Because of the way I move through the world and the fact that I tweet whatever the hell I want at trolls, celebrities, and celebrity trolls (Hi Megyn Kelly!), I try to keep David's world out my public output. I don't want him to be a target and I don't want to reflect badly on his church. This is only self-directed; it's not something he's asked for or wanted. But I get a small but not insignificant amount of hate mail and tweets and the last thing I want is to give someone an opportunity to try to get me by going through him. Maybe I'm over-estimating my impact; the megalomania is already beginning.
In any case, I always presumed that I would be the one negotiating a public profile, mostly because I once bought a book from the Scholastic Book Fair called "How to Be a Child Star" Meanwhile, David has devoted his life to service of others and the quiet, important work of community building through one-on-one relationships. So, it was a surprise when I came home on Valentine's Day and David said, "So, I was on the news, I DVR'd it." And it was a surprise when he came off extremely well on TV, delivering his message in compelling soundbites and not the rambles that I prefer to force upon unsuspecting interviewers. And it was a surprise when we were working side-by-side the next day and David answered the phone and excused himself to go talk with the Baltimore County Executive. Twice! David's community leadership and ability to galvanize his congregation and to agitate for better protections turned him into a media darling this week and I was deeply shewk! I'm so proud of him and our careers are so different, I don't feel jealous (though I'm salty that he didn't plug my column on the news; I mean, hello.) But it's a completely different side of him that he's taken to with such aplomb.
Isn't that an exciting moment, when you see your person in a new, impressive light? When they rise to a challenge with grace and with power as if this is the moment they've been waiting for? To see David succeed in this way, and in service of spreading a message of love and hope, is genuinely awe-inspiring. And it makes me excited for what comes next.
I've told him in the past that he can't run for office because I've said too many shady things over text and I don't have time to be publicly embarrassed about my bad personality. But on Thursday we were standing side-by-side in the bathroom mirror and I stared at him and saw anew what he might be destined for. I was slathering my face with various potions, lotions, and tinctures so that I can look more like Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her and he'd just gotten off of the phone with spokesperson for the police department. I reminded him about our agreement on running for office. He assured me that wasn't the plan. "Uh huh, sure," I said as I scrubbed my face with an actual snail. "I'll remind you of this in 20 years when I'm getting Botox in the Governor's Mansion."
So. We'll see. The rally this morning was phenomenal. The church was overflowing, hundreds of people showed up. David spoke passionately and persuasively; he made a public ask of the County Executive and the CE agreed to his request. Afterward, David gave remarks to a scrum of reporters like he was Roxie Hart spilling the beans in Chicago.
"We will discover the identity of the Batman!"
My mother had attended the rally, so she and I watched him from a distance and took pictures for our respective scrapbooks (you are reading mine). I hugged her goodbye and went to find something to eat. After a couple of minutes of passively chewing, I heard a voice that sounded distinctly like my mom saying "Don't you know? That's R. Eric Thomas, award-winning playwright." I pushed through the crowd and found that mother hadn't actually left, but rather had cornered a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and was shouting my resume at him, offering "a scoop!" I come by my shamelessness honestly, I'll tell you that.
But, this isn't about me. It's about David and his church, Maryland Presbyterian Church, on Providence Road in Baltimore County, Maryland. There's a miracle that's been happening in this place and I know because I see it every day, I see it in my home, I see it in the people at the church, I see it in the community, I see it in the bathroom mirror and on the news, and I saw it this morning in the rally from the place I was standing: at the back of the church, behind a phone I was using to live stream the event, the camera trained on my husband the whole time.
This week, Regina King is almost decapitated by Joel Embiid, Trump doubles down on Executive Time (pooping and tweeting), and RBG returns. But first! EVERYONE has been going gaga over this bichon frise.
The agility course, a series of ramps, hurdles, and tunnels, is meant to be taken at top speed and with a gymnast's precision. Winky looked at the course and was like, "Okay, see what I'm not going to do is break a sweat, though," and set off on a leisurely trot through some but not all of the obstacles, pausing frequently for applause breaks and to just soak it in. Winky is out here manifesting that Lauryn Hill concert energy and it's magnificent. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
RBG strolled into the Supreme Court chambers this morning and shouted, "I heard y'all have a national emergency." Ruth Bader Ginsburg coming back to work on the day that President Humpty Dumpty announces his wall made of grifts and dog whistles will be built under a declaration of national emergency is a feat of poetic synergy. Nick Fury showed up on her doorstep and she was like, "Say no more, my dude. My briefcase is packed and the car is already running. To the Gins-mobile!" [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
The Coast Guard was put on high alert after the 7-foot Embiid lost control while chasing a ball during a game at Madison Square Garden and came crashing down into the glowing aura of talent and Oscar-worthiness that surrounds Regina King at all times, grazing her hair with his shoe and shaving years off of my life from shock. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Do I want a more productive Trump? Absolutely not. What I want is more transparency in this ridiculous schedule. You can't just throw the word Executive on something and call it a day, my dude. It's like how my resumé says I have "extensive graphic design expertise" because I make terrible memes on Photoshop. No one is hiring me to work on the new Avatar movies, friendo, and no one is looking to Donald Trump to demonstrate efficient time management. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Police are looking for information on a woman who has been approaching students at Towson University, showing them a picture of her son, and asking them if they would date him. The woman is described as in her 50s and wearing a multicolored scarf, which is an excellent detail. I am very here for this Nancy Meyers character come to life, wearing blousy tops and bold patterns, rocking a phone case that says "Live, Laugh, Love" or "It's wine o'clock somewhere!" and taking matters into her own hands. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Let's Hang Out!
Tomorrow: The Moth in DC at City Winery
March 7, The Moth in DC at Miracle Theater
Random Thing on the Internet
I don't know why this Princess Diana musical exists but the footage of it is... an experience.