A while ago, I was attending a beginning-of-the-school-year pageant. Several hundred of us were jammed in my daughter’s private granola school gymnasium for the obligatory autumn pontifications.
Sitting next to me was a young father, maybe 30. To break the ice, he sheepishly smiled and shared: “Wow. This heat. How can you not believe in Climate Change!”
I wish I had a monocle, to better look down at him. Wow. Northridge. September. It’s 114. The world’s askew. Don’t we usually get snow by now?
Just to get along with the PTA inbred, I should have went along with a polite exchange of liberal clichés, held my hands over my head and snapped my fingers while chanting: “We are victims still of George W. Bush. I am truly terrified for my child and all people of color. As an older white male, I deserve to die before winter solstice.”
That would have been the safe thing to say. But no. I had to be a wise guy.
I lowered my voice five octaves. It boomed like I was an extra in a bad Viking movie: “Surely we must have angered the gods with our non-vegan ways. We must sacrifice a virgin to appease them. What’s your freckled wife doing this weekend?”
And then I stared at him long after he and his family excused themselves and moved “…closer to the air conditioning duct.”
Which is why I shouldn’t be let out in public unsupervised.
I think about this guy from time to time, good-souled knucklehead he was. I’ll bet he was a loving father and good provider. Probably a crackerjack Frisbee thrower as well. How many man-hours had the two of us wasted, studying ballot measures, chatting with friends, researching our own, personal howling websites, driving to our polling places only to cancel each other’s vote?
We might even have much in common. Staring into the wonderment of a baby’s eyes. A fondness for contemplation while relaxing next to a babbling brook. A mutual love for the New England Patriots.
He looks at me and sees cowboy boots and Wranglers. I see a man, probably Irish, in breathable linen Hindu ensemble with no harmful chemical dyes, a foppish man-bun and sandals. I bet he’d be surprised if he knew that I truly wouldn’t care if the next 186 presidents were black. Or Eskimo. Or women. Not that I’m an enemy of “Star Trek,” but I’d prefer they were American. And, ethical. And, sane.
I’m a huge fan of sanity.
I’ve even considered converting.
Perhaps it’s my Catholic upbringing, but I’d feel uncomfortable running for senator of, oh, say — Massachusetts — while claiming to be Somali pirate. How I’d blush that awful day when an investigative reporter finally asked: “Hey. Wait a second. If you’re Somali, can you say something in Cushitic?”
If I were a Democrat, I could just nod, smile and respond: “Uh-huh!”
The reporter, a Democrat, would close his notepad, smile a you-betcha smile and say, “Why, thanks, Mr. Future Senator Pirate! That’s good enough for me! You’ve got my vote!!”
You just have to know there’d be that one, racist Republican reporter. Tedious chap. He’d have to point out that not only do I NOT look Somalian, I don’t even look like a sommelier, and, if I’m a pirate, where’s my pirate’s hat and parrot?
I’d proudly answer: “But I feel like a Somali pirate, and, by golly, I feel like I’m wearing a hat, uh… and-uh, a … a parrot…”
(Polite applause from the press corps…)
No guts, no glory. I take it to the next level: “…AND, (placing back of hand to forehead) I’m a WOMAN Somali pirate, trapped inside the body of an oppressive Polish cowboy!”
(Gasps, followed by wild standing ovation and simpatico tears from the media.)
In a couple of weeks, that Progressive dad from the school assembly will mount his hummus-powered greeny car, skateboard or pogo stick, and head to the polls. Huddled in his little cardboard booth, he’ll check all the boxes labeled “MOONCALF,” “IMBECILE,” “BOOGER-EATING MORON,” “AMAZINGLY STUPID IDEA,” “AMAZINGLY BIG FAT DOUBLE STUPID IDEA,” “MIGHT AS WELL SET A MATCH TO MY MONEY” and “BETTER OFF HAVING HUGO CHAVEZ RUN THE FRIGGING TREASURY.”
I’ll perform my citizen’s duty that very same November day. Instead, I’ll sigh, then hole-punch the boxes offering: “BETTER THAN BUTTHEAD,” “BETTER THAN BUTTHEAD,” “BETTER THAN BUTTHEAD…”
There’s a political T-shirt for you. “BETTER THAN BUTTHEAD.”
And really. In this Kumbaya world in which we’re stuck, isn’t everybody?
Climate Change Dad? All the things we could talk about — childhood traumas, trepidation about asking a girl out on a date, the countless things that delight us about our children. We’d laugh, commiserate, bond. But, we couldn’t talk politics. I could. I love to talk politics. I love to ask questions, like, where my tax dollar (singular and well-mourned) is going. He’d point out to even ask a question like that is to hate.
If I were registered in that other and unspeakable party, and I ran for U.S. senator from California — as a currently active but in a non-sexual way female Somali pirate — I bet I could earn Climate Change Dad’s vote, no questions asked.
I’d just have to find the right hat and borrow a parrot…
John Boston is a local writer.