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The Observer Jan. 20 

So The Observer’s friend is driving in Cammack and spies, at a three-way intersection, three dogs trotting along together in the street. Two of the dogs look like little peek-a-poo type things, and the other — well, it looks like a goat. Up drives a van, and two official-looking types — a man and a woman with cans hitched to their belts — get out. The Observer’s friend says to them, “That dog looks a whole lot like a goat.” Then, all realize, it is a goat, with two dog friends, out in traffic. The trio turned to trot up the hill and away from the man, who was heard calling “Here goat, here goat!” as our friend drove off. The three knew where they were going, and apparently made it home, just a few doors away, it turns out, safely. No speeding tickets were issued. The Observer passed a rakish jet-black Cadillac with dark-tinted windows in a West Little Rock parking lot the other day. It bore a vanity license plate that read “BDABING.” The Observer, an avid HBO watcher, believes he understands the reference. The Bada Bing, or familiarly, “da Bing,” is the strip club/mob family front where the men of TV’s Soprano family ogle strippers, play cards, plot crime and, in one famous episode, turn a petty annoyance into a murderous rage. So, The Observer, wondered: Who’s driving that Arkansas Cadillac celebrating Tony S.’s office and playpen? Is it a bull-necked crime family boss, chomping a big cigar, who alternates warm affection for wife and kids with extramarital dalliances and periodic homicides? Or might it be someone emblematic of another part of the Bing equation? A peroxided, hard-bodied and hard-looking dancer, with silicone-enhanced projectiles as big and hard as Hope melons? We didn’t hang around to find out who’d drive off in the Caddy. But later, we remembered another person we know who wears a T-shirt emblazoned with the Bada Bing logo. She’s neither mob boss nor exotic dancer, but a proper middle-aged woman who uses only enough hair dye to cover up a little gray, so law-abiding we don’t think she’s ever received a parking ticket. Did we say proper? If you took her into a place with a brass pole when the dancers weren’t on stage, she’d probably think you’d brought her into a bar built in a former firehouse. With her and her T-shirt in mind (she loves “The Sopranos”), we’ll jump to no conclusions about the Cadillac driver. But we can daydream, can’t we? In a downtown pizzeria for lunch, The Observer noticed that something had changed since our last visit. We asked the waitress: “You don’t have the salad bar anymore?” “It broke,” she said. How do you break a salad bar? The Observer is a fairly clumsy eater, but we’ve never broken a salad bar. A good thing, too — we’d hate to have to buy a whole salad bar. Though we are partial to those little baby corn things. The Observer’s child asked, “What is a covenant marriage?” She’d been hearing a lot about it recently. Well. There’s holy matrimony, and that’s when you get married in church and promise God to stay married even if one of you gets sick, because that’s how much you should love somebody to marry them. Then there’s marriage in a courthouse or by a civilian who’s been given the legal right to marry people. It’s not a holy thing, it’s a legal thing, though for some people there’s little difference, because they feel marriage is sacred even if they don’t want to go to church to hitch up. Both of those kinds of marriage are covenants, because covenant means contract; you sign it to show you mean it. That all made sense to her. But what is “covenant marriage”? Well. It’s when the church and the civil union just aren’t enough, and you want people to know you’re really holy, holy enough even to get elected to office, so you get up on stage and make a mockery of the wedding you had in your church. She didn’t get it, but then politics is not for the innocent.
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