Archive for November, 2020

There were these three guys…

There were these three guys…

If only it had been one of those old jokes. Like “There were these three guys in a bar” or “Three guys were cast away on this desert island” or “There was this priest, pastor and rabbi.”

But it wasn’t a joke. They were real people who looked a lot like me. All men. Two white, one black. Sitting outside on chairs, about ten feet apart. I got a hint about their political persuasion when I noticed the absence of masks. Except for that, they could have been Democrats. Even be my close buddies.

It was ten days after the election, and they were being interviewed by ABC’s Martha Raddatz in Youngstown, Ohio. I’ve seen Martha do interviews in a well-reasoned manner, willing to accept responses without argument. She’s definitely no Rachel Maddow. Maybe more like PBS anchor, Judy Woodruff. Someone whose rants are usually limited to no more than a raised eyebrow.

It was unseasonably warm in Youngstown. The three men were in short sleeves. The setting reminded me of my teenage years on Chicago’s north side. Flat, green with no hint of drought, a few solitary trees…boring. What kind of angst was it that brought them before the cameras, instead of in their usual Saturday morning positions on the local bowling team.

Pleasantries were brief and then Martha said to Tony, “So you think that Donald Trump has won the election?”

“Absolutely. Joe Biden could never have gotten 78 million votes. No, not ever. The most votes ever? Give me a break. And even if he did, I could never accept Joe Biden as president.”

He went on, “I used to be a Democrat, but I promised myself that if I ever found a guy who sounds like me, I’d vote for him. Then I found Trump; a guy who talks just like us.”

Eric chimed in, “As soon as I heard there were gonna be mail-in votes, I knew it was a recipe for disaster. I don’t think there’s any way of proving that the person who mailed it in is the person who actually did it.”

Martha turned to Gino, “Do you feel the same way?”

“Absolutely. Too much smoke and mirrors. Ballots appearing and disappearing. Those globalists and liberals. I put nothing past them.”

Martha brought herself to her full five-foot-two-inch height and said, “But what about the fact that election officials have said this is the cleanest election ever. No widespread irregularities.”

To which Eric said, “Nope, just doesn’t smell right. Too many irregularities.”

Martha packed up her gear and walked down the street to where she found Teri, mother of four and a staunch Republican.

Every bit as sure of herself as Gino, Tony and Eric were, she was positive there were massive ballot counting misdeeds. “I went to bed winning, and I wake up a loser. They kept finding lots of Democrat ballots and no Republicans. I don’t believe it and never will.”

It reminded me of when the Cubs lost the 1984 National League championship series to the San Diego Padres. The Cubs had a terrific year. It was the first time they were in post-season play since 1945, when I was 6. They had won 96 games, and more than 2 million people bought tickets to Wrigley Field. Ryne Sandberg won the NL Most Valuable Player award, and they had a pitcher who lost only one game the whole season.

They won the first two playoff games to the Padres in Wrigley Field. I wasn’t cocky but I figured they were a shoo in. Then they lost the next three in San Diego, effectively renewing their reputation as losers.

I was crushed. I walked through our Northridge neighborhood mumbling, “I can’t believe it. It can’t be true.” Over and over again.

But my rants changed nothing. The truth was right there, permanently etched in the books for all to see. There was nothing more I could do but live with it. So I did for another 32 years until the Cubs won the World Series.

I’m sure those three guys, Gino, Tony and Eric, are doing the same thing. Wandering around their Youngstown neighborhood, scratching their heads and refusing to accept the truth.

And what irritates me most is that they probably won’t have to wait 32 years to be back on top.

Waiting’s a Bitch

It’s warm today and I’m sitting outside soaking up some heat. The air is still as concrete, and the only noise is coming from my neighbor’s pool pump.

Funny, I’ve never met this neighbor even though I can hear her movements on the other side of my concrete block fence. I wonder if she’s a Republican.

I wonder if she is as agitated as I am waiting for this thing to end.

Waiting for Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada. A strange mix of states, all of which are mucking about in a feeble attempt to count ballots. To determine who’s the next guy to suffer the job of President.

Why must I go through this ordeal every four years? An ordeal that plays mind-games with my head. That takes me from high to low and back again.

It all began well before voting day, November 3. The onslaught of early voting only added to the suspense. Who were these people who voted early?

I started counting the days until election day two months ago. Watching my candidate on the screen, I found myself hoping he wouldn’t fall down and die…at least not until November 4. I feared that a Covid nasty would bring him to his knees.

I prayed that he’d stay conscious and erect at least until his running mate could assume the office.

Two weeks ago, I called son David and asked him what would happen if my candidate died after the election but before taking the oath of office on Inauguration Day. David Googled and found that the elected vice-president would take the oath. Unfulfilled, I asked him what would happen if both of them died before taking the oath; I think he’s still working on it. Meanwhile I have morbid thoughts about flag-waving guys wearing cowboy hats, racing around in souped-up Ford F-150’s.

I foolishly thought that I would feel better the closer we got to election day. Opinion polls seemed to be headed in the right direction, a comforting thought until I remembered what happened four years ago. To overconfident supporters I said things like, “Don’t count your chickens…” Or, “It ain’t over til the fat lady sings.” Or the Yiddish, “Be quiet, you’ll give yourself a kinehora.” Mostly I just smiled and said nothing.

On election day Jackie was in LA. I was alone with a big TV set and afraid to watch it. I promised myself that I would not turn it on until 5pm. I called Bocalli’s and ordered a medium sausage pizza that left me without an appetite. I made myself a vodka martini that did little to calm my nerves. It took forever to chew the drink’s four olives with pimentos; I was certain they would ever enter my digestive system.

I turned on CNN which was once once a reliable, neutral observer. It was either that or MSNBC which probably called the election for my guy months ago. Or Fox, that rivals MSNBC for best in class for fantasy.

I sat on the couch, chewed on a lukewarm piece of pizza and stared at CNN. John King was standing in front of an electronic map, waving at it with what looked like a Sharpie. Magically, the map segments moved at his command and produced new maps of various permutations and combinations. I was impressed with his sleight of hand and his grasp of numbers but had no idea what he was talking about.

Only one hour past the election, and he was comparing historical data with current voting trends. What-if statements poured from his mouth as though he had a goal of predicting the outcome based on just the votes cast by my Aunt Tilly and my Uncle Max.

It was depressing. I watched the infallible polls being shredded. My guy was a sure loser. Maybe a good thing, since he probably wouldn’t make it to Inauguration Day anyway.

I couldn’t take it anymore. I brought up Netflix on my Roku TV and spotted Moneyball. The ten-year-old movie based on a true story stars Brad Pitt as the general manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team. The team has just lost three of its top stars and Pitt has hired a numbers whiz kid played by Jonah Hill. They use statistics and probabilities to remake the team to the consternation of its on-field, old-time manager played by the late and lamented Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

I tried to keep my mind on the film but was constantly drawn back to CNN. I flipped back and forth. John King was still dazzling, and I was getting more depressed as the numbers seemed to be beating up on my guy.

It got worse and I fell asleep, probably from a combination of two martinis and a desire to escape reality. I awoke at 11, said good night to a tireless John King, sent Jackie a text, and went to bed where I spent a restless night having muddled thoughts about the upcoming calamity. I even tried to rationalize the worst by thinking about sweet revenge in 2022 and again in 2024…when I’ll be 85.

It’s no better today. I visit the NY Times, CNN, and Facebook with the rapidity of a Gattling gun. I wait for the other shoe to fall, hoping for closure yet dreading the outcome. 

Tomorrow I’ll knock on my neighbor’s door. Maybe she knows something. 


Pages

Recent Comments