Hats and buttons

Sweetie and I were in Westridge market yesterday.  As I was picking out some shitake mushrooms for the chicken dish we were planning that evening, I looked up and found my old friend Steve walking toward me.  Hadn’t seen him for several months.  Fact is I only see Steve at the local markets.

He’s a working stiff in the construction business and a bright, amiable guy.  Steve’s always ready to give me some help figuring out a plumbing problem, carpentry challenge or anything else at which I exhibit the qualities of a certified doofus.

As usual, my Obama/Biden button was securely pinned to left side of my t-shirt.  My old friend Steve was wearing a McCain/Palin baseball cap.  A really good looking, obviously American-made one.  As my mother-in-law Marge might have said, “I was shocked.”  How could Steve, who is no dummy and who must be impacted by the economic meltdown, possibly be a supporter of the Old Guy and the Snow Queen?  I thought “What’s a nice guy like Steve doing supporting two people who are not?  Doesn’t he read the papers?  Doesn’t he watch TV?  Doesn’t he read my blog?”

I wondered if he knew about the Rudy Giuliani robocalls where he says Obama is a weak-on-crime liberal who’s against mandatory prison terms for sex offenders and murderers.  Or the other ones from faceless callers that warn old ladies about the Muslim’s nefarious relationship with terrorists.  Why wasn’t Steve outraged about the Snow Queen’s gazilliion dollar wardrobe and the $22,000 paid to her hairdresser by the Republican National Committee in the first two weeks of October?  Money that came out of Steve’s pocket.  Doesn’t he care about the Old Guy’s quick trigger temper and rapid fire u-turns?  Wasn’t he just a teenie weenie bit concerned about McCain’s mental state as evidenced by his choice of a running mate?  And why wasn’t he worried about the Old Guy dropping dead during his inaugural speech and turning the reins of government over to someone who thinks “foreign relations” refers to my ancestors in the Ukraine?

My life was flashing before my eyes.  I kept talking to Steve about the weather, his job and his family.  And eyeing that awful baseball cap.  I’m sure he saw my Obama button especially since at that moment I felt it must measure three feet across and have a spotlight focused on it.  I wondered if Steve was thinking stuff like “How can that nice old guy support someone like that Muslim?  What can he possibly be thinking?  I always thought he was a pretty sharp guy.  Maybe he’s senile.”

Maybe I am.  Maybe I think we can actually win this election.  Maybe I think that Colin Powell’s endorsement must mean something.  Maybe I think that this country is in need of a change…a big one.  Maybe the fact that American Muslims are fighting for this country alongside non-Muslims means something to those who are afraid of anyone different.  Maybe we actually think we want smart people leading us instead of someone who’s just average…at best.  Maybe Steve needs a new hat.


7 Responses to “Hats and buttons”

  1. 1 Roger Conrad October 25, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    You know this is an especially important election when so many people are coming out of the closet in subtle and not so subtle ways to support their candidate. I also am amazed at how nice people I know seem to be tethered to the Republican bandwagon even though that party has been working against their economic interests for decades. When I test the waters with them all I get is fear. Fear of higher taxes. Fear of terrorists. Fear of the government. Then all the fears are wrapped up in blind patriotism. God forbid if a candidate forgets to wear a flag pin.


  2. 2 Lorraine October 25, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    I liked this one for I too have recently had the same thought about someone I respect and like at work…”I thought he was intelligent…”.

    We look forward to more,



  3. 3 Jon October 25, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    There really is a reason that ole aphorism is still valid: don’t rty to talk about religion or politics. Too many people, apparently, retreat into blind belief… it’s a lot easier than thinking…


  4. 4 Anne Shrage October 25, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    It’s difficult, isn’t it? for those of us who feel so stronlgly about this election,when we find our friends,family or people we like voting for “them!” I am totally unequipped to stay cool. I just had someone in my family tell me she “liked” Sarah! I had to change the subject immediately or I would have shouted and ranted and lost a relationship I value. A friend told me while on the phone with her sister, who lives in the middle of the country, that she (the sister) was voting for Palin. She said the only thing she could think of saying was, “I have to get off the phone now.”

    We wonder why, if the issues are so clear to us, how can they not be clear to everybody. Or….at least…to those we have relationships with and consider fairly intelligent. Now, however, I question their intelligence.


  5. 5 Marmon October 26, 2008 at 5:46 am

    Ila and Fred,

    My name is Marmon Pine. I was a good friend of Ila’s sister, Leila in our senior year of high school. My lifelong friend is Charlie Victor (partner of Judith Reicin). We spoke at a party last night and Judith forwarded your blog address this morning.

    Perhaps Ila recalls me as “the guy whose senior prom her sister attended (Roosevelt High)”. I was much shorter and much younger than Leila, but we seemed to strike it off well (of course, if I recall this correctly, Ila was the kid sister). After a great summer, we went traveled different paths and never spoke again.

    But, my life path was altered forever (another and longer story).

    How strange… such a tenuous connection and yet I feel that I am reading thoughts from a family member (ain’t old age great!) Keep up the good work.

    Marmon Pine


  6. 6 sidney cohn October 26, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Hi Fred and “Sweetie”

    I know it’s hard to be tolerant when you’re so passionate about an issue, but(you knew that was coming) I find in my not-so-young age, (I can’t even use the 3 letter word that’s appropriate) that opinions on many subjects are different than mine, and it is most disheartening when I find that some of these other opinions turn out to be correct. I’m absolutely certain that that’s not the case here, but(there’s that word again)I still believe we should be sympathetic and tolerant to the misinformed,the intractable, and those lacking the foresight that you and I posess, and try to be accepting.

    Rabbi Cohn


  7. 7 leila October 28, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Hi Fred:
    Hi Marmon:

    Can’t believe I am hearing a voice from the very very distant past. You took me to the senior prom all those many years ago.
    Are you still in Chicago?
    Actually we still have a brother who never got out of town.
    Over the years we have all become lazy and we let Fred articulate the thought process for us.
    Love to all
    vote vote vote NO ON 8

    Hi Anne:

    I feel I am talking to all my friends I left when I moved up to the mountains–never fear Anne I have your phone number and I will call you..How’s the baby?
    love leila


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