I Liked This Richard Cohen Column A Lot Better When It Was A 'Seinfeld' Episode

"What's the deal with intimacy?" is the short version of the premise of today's piece from celebrated Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, who says that America has "become a nation of phonies" because we "love everyone." "We don’t merely like them or respect them or hold them in some esteem. We love them," writes Cohen. "We have done away with the intermediary steps of feelings less than love," he says next, in case you need this point driven home with a ball peen hammer, in order to follow along.

Uhm, so, as best I can make out, something went wrong when call center employees started using their first names, inevitably leading to too much friendliness with bill collectors, or something like that? And that has created a "parody of democracy" that is apparently more interesting to Cohen, today, then say ... the weird stuff that happened in the Senate last week? At any rate, we are not shaking enough hands, as we are guided to do in the teachings of Six Sigma, and instead we are hugging, and worse, kissing each other.

To which Cohen says, "Bleah."

I fear for the kiss. I come from a kissing culture — I kissed my father and he kissed me and I kiss my son and so it will always be, yea verily yea — and I also kiss my Italian male friends, for this is their culture, and they kiss me. But that’s it! I am drawing the line. I do not want others to kiss me, which is starting to happen. Neither do I want to kiss female acquaintances on the lips, which is also starting to happen. I say good-bye and they pucker up. No! This is reserved for love and by love I mean real love, not the silly xoxo stuff that clutters the Internet with false, saccharine intimacy and emotion. And what is :)? Please, someone, help me.

I guess the whole rage against the emoticons is a nice po-mo touch, but I have to say that I preferred the whole "nation of phonies" thing back when I was a teenager and I thought that J.D. Salinger was profound. Additionally, the whole riff on kissing was much better when it turned up on "Seinfeld":

Pretty funny episode, all told. That said, as Charles Pierce points out, Richard Cohen brings his own punchline to the joke -- "Devon Spurgeon."

[Insert sound of slap bass playing, smash cut to credits.]

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