Big Daddy

Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy:

 I can’t help laughing, mostly to myself, whenever I hear people around the Capitol talk about their “members.” Is there something wrong with me?

– Turgid in Temecula

Dear Turgid,


I’m guessing you have more problems than a snake-oil salesman pitching a room full of Christian Scientists.
If I understand you, you get your jollies from hearing California legislators called “members,” which in your mind is a synonym for the appendage all real men are blessed with. I’m figuring this is new information to you.

Some sob sister or a shrink dumb enough to waste their time trying to help you would probably say you’ve got a bad case of “member envy.”

Me, I figure you and your best friend, Rosie Palms, are spending too much time locked in the bathroom studying anatomy. It’s true ain’t it?

You probably bray like a donkey when the presiding officer in the Assembly asks for all members to rise. Or maybe when a couple of lobbyists are jawing and one says they got stiffed by a member. Fess up: When that happens you’re laughing so hard you need to breathe into a paper bag.

When the receptionist says the member or the member’s chief of staff is with a member, you’re probably wondering if it’s their own member or someone else’s. Har-de-har-har.

What kind of name is Turgid, anyway? All I know is it has two letters more than you deserve.

Sure, if you open Merriam Webster, the No. 1 definition for member is “a body part or organ” and beneath that is a) “ limb” and b) “penis.” But anyone with a lick of sense knows Definition No. 2 is what we’re talking about: “One of the individuals composing a group.”

And you know what? Even if it was definition No. 1, it still fits. The Assembly or the Senate is called the “body.” Bodies are comprised of members. Stop that snickering or I’ll tan your hide.

Individuals who are elected to legislative institutions are members of those institutions. That’s time-honored and properly respectful. Members of Parliament. Members of the Bundestag. Members of the Senate. Assembly members. City Council. Board of Supervisors. mosquito abatement districts have members, for chrissakes.

I made the California Legislature a full-time, professional entity.

Actually it was my gaffe but Jerry Waldie carried the constitutional amendment ‘cause Jerry was running for Congress back in ’66 so the big pay raise we gave ourselves wouldn’t affect him and I figured it was better to have someone without any skin in the game doing the deed since that way it looked like some good government deal instead of us feathering our own nests, which of course we were, but I don’t expect a little pencil-neck chowderhead like you to grasp even the flinders of that kind of subtlety.

The point is even before it was a full-time professional BODY, the state’s duly elected representatives were commonly called MEMBERS of the Legislature. No tittering, no tee-heeing. No snide whispering. MEMBERS of the Legislature.

Those MEMBERS of the Legislature worked hard and played hard and drank hard and then did the stuff that men who play hard and drink hard inevitably end up doing.

And you know what? We did that hard too.

Born out of all that hard stuff we did as MEMBERS is the state you and your ilk are privileged to live in with its world-class university system, life-giving aqueduct, natural beauty and laws that protect even snot-nosed smart-alecks like yourself from getting deservedly stomped by impugning the willingness of the Legislature and its members to do the hard thing.

Next question.

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