Elliot: In the Year of Monica&Bill, time stops

Editor\’s note: This column originally appeared in The Daily Iowan on Sept. 29, 1998.



Monica Lewinsky pauses during her speech at the Forbes Under 30 Summit at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia on Monday, Oct. 20, 2014. (David Maialetti/Philadelphia Daily News/MCT)

Beau Elliot, [email protected]

In the Year of Monica&Bill, time stops. The leaves of the trees stubbornly stick to their branches, and the leaves of the calendar refuse to flutter like they always do in those St. Reagan movies.

Especially the one with the chimp. Days pile up like pedestrians waiting for the walk sign at a Manhattan intersection. In the Year of Monica&Bill, the walk sign never blinks. The Moon, unfazed, goes through a no-phase phase. Summer hangs on and on and on, like that hippie who crashed on the couch when St. Reagan was elected and was still passed out when we moved out, after America accidentally elected Friar Bush.

Nothing moves but the stock market and hurricanes. It’s Monica&Bill, the Crisis Mongers intone, sagely, somberly. The stock market zips up and down, down and up and back again, like the elevator in the Camus Towers. People get on, get off, get on again at random floors. Nobody is sure why. We can always get another elevator, my girlfriend says, but she is wrong.

The hurricanes stack up over the Atlantic like jetliners over the Illinois cornfields waiting for a spot at O’Hare. In the Year of Monica&Bill, there are no spots at O’Hare, only hurricanes waiting to bash the coast. It gives the Weather Crisis Mongers a chance to trot out their rain gear, to stand on beaches, piers, seawalls with the gale whipping their hair to the north. It’s Monica&Bill, they intone, like the way they used to intone, it’s El Niño, back when time moved and there was some weather besides hurricanes. We can always get another channel, my girlfriend says, but she is wrong.

Don’t you get tired of being right all the time? I say, quoting the Sundance Kid. But the hurricane whips my words away, and, in any case, she is already jumping off the Utah cliff, sailing away through the high plateau air. It turns out that in the Year of Monica&Bill, girlfriends can fly.

In the Year of Monica&Bill, World War II comes back, our long-lost friend. Kids swing out to the Dorsey Brothers and Harry James and Benny Goodman, fix raccoon tails to the aerials of their convertibles, jitterbug away on street corners and in bars like there was no tomorrow, which there isn’t. In the cinema houses, brave boys by the thousands land again and again on Omaha Beach and get sliced up like so many ribbons of DNA, their lives leaking into the Normandy sand. Not like the last Bad War, in which Bill refused to inhale the draft while hanging out in college, waiting to meet Monica.

Rumors of events occurring from beyond the borders come whispering in during the Year of Monica&Bill. German elections, NATO overflights, Irish peace, Mideast non-peace, North Korean missiles, Iranian troop maneuvers. Merely rumors, the Crisis Mongers intone sagely, somberly. In reality, there is only Monica&Bill.

The Boys of Summer come storming back, like World War II, like the Dorsey Brothers. We can’t be somber and sage all the time, intone the Crisis Mongers; baseball has been very, very good to us. The New York Yankees vanquish everyone in sight and out of sight and prepare to bash the Serbs, the Afghans, the North Koreans. Bash like a hurricane. The Braves, the Astros, the Indians, the Red Sox vie to see who will be the Brooklyn Dodgers this year.

The Mark and the Sammy whack baseballs out of sight, out of mind. Meet me in St. Louis, the Mark says to history. Home runs pile up like a season full of Everests. Whack whack whack. The Boys of Summer dance and Harry James Chattanooga Choo-choos along. It’s not the live ball, the Crisis Mongers intone. It’s not the dilution of pitching because of expansion. It’s not the German elections or the NATO overflights or the Irish peace or the North Korean missiles or the Japanese meltdown or the Iranian troop maneuvers or the hurricanes stacked up over the Atlantic like fading TV stars waiting for their talk shows to come along. It’s Monica&Bill.

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