Thursday, October 16, 2008

I think I thought (I saw you try)

'That's me in the Corner'

My voter registration card came in the mail this morning, just under the wire as usual. And rightly so. I don't know what I think about politics these days, I really don't. It is one of those subjects I've always mentally deferred to the pundits who are supposed to know better than I---specifically politicians, elected officials (the actual winners, please), and those who objectively report and editorialize on the red, blue and green concerns of this culturally divided country. (Isn't there some uniform 'Objective Oath' everyone in the Media is required to take after journalism/modeling school? Maybe not. Maybe I ditched that day in high school and am just experiencing a time released Poli-Sci hallucination.)

Same thing, I believe, holds true with the medicine/health care industry that everyone is always yapping about. I just assume the doctors and everyone else involved in that profession--nurses, administrators, pharmaceutical salesmen--know what's new and shiny in the field and their word is, well...up. Word up, Doc. There is an Oath they all pledge to, I'm almost positive (although maybe not for the salesmen). In other words, I've always relied on sources outside my own subjective cranium (thick head) for the real, unfiltered, 'down low' (Oprah) on what is swirling around me in this universe of billions and trillions (population and national debt respectively).

For reasons too personal to delve into here, my own 'first thoughts' are usually self-motivated and thus, make me lack the objectivity needed to execute clear, unfettered judgments in areas where voices must be heard and votes counted. This is why I skim over 30 to 40 blogs each day--many more on a slow Chicago real estate day--for other peoples' opinions and insights (hey, I'm a fast if not totally retentive reader with a relatively short attention span and a fairly open mind...I think.). Oh, and I've always read into musical lyrics more than is actually there. Ah Music! Nature's muse....the true opiate of the peeps. 'Like a hurt lost and blinded fool, fool...'

Most bloggers (some professional but many more amateur and apparently lonely) I read are so out of their minds over one candidate or the other that the noise is just confusing me even more. I have to say, I'm a little worried about more than a few of my fellow scribes given the subjective, party line diatribes I've been perusing these past few weeks.

November 4th, 2008, will be the 14th presidential Election Day of my life; 13 of which I have at least a passing (vague?) recollection. And quite honestly, nothing much besides fashion, technology and music has changed from this man's vantage point. My own personal time traveling bubble that has been hovering 5 feet 10 inches above this Earth since the mid-1950s still can't push through the rhetoric and the political buzz that surrounds such red letter events as Election Day; dull, stale, and obtuse as its always been....

When I was four years old, there was a Kennedy family who lived in a custom Levittowner at the top of our drive. The father was a steel mill supervisor who wore a suit and they had a hundred kids running around their expanded, single level asbestos sided American Dream. In my small mind I remember thinking it was him everyone was talking about, this Mr. Kennedy. He was a man who lived at the top of our hill and just got elected President, whatever that meant. I remember wondering why my own father wasn't the one who got elected although he only wore a suit on Sundays. Maybe that was it, I thought. My wife told me she wondered the same thing about her own father when she was a kid. Ironically, the two most decent and honest men we both know are not on the ballot this year and never have been.

'Losing My Religion?'

Perhaps. I think Sarah Palin is cute (especially the Photo Shopped versions) although I've known much cuter, and Barack Obama is handsome and alert. Joe Biden and John McCain, both strained and blurry through these weakening eyes, somehow remind me of two old college fraternity rivals reminiscing back to a time when everyone wore coon skin hats and big Varsity letters on their sweaters. A Tom Collins society. Wing tips and tie bars. Mad men from another era. Someone is yelling into a megaphone..."Go Harvard! Go Yale!" No Ivy League child left behind...

There is incongruity along party lines. Both sides are mismatched, I observe. And I'm pretty sure at least one of the four in this presidential spotlight isn't even a real politician. (Guess who.) So my question to the universe is: Why do I even have to order off this menu at all? Chicken or Fish? Hmmm. Can I get back to you on that?

"Honey, don't RSVP my cousin's Vinny's wedding just yet. The first two times he got married the food was outstanding. But this time, well..."

"Maybe the loan sharking business is feeling the crunch too," my Honey retorts.

"Hey, don't be judgmental," I quip. "The politically correct term is Sub Prime. That side of the family is sensitive."

"Anyone offering only chicken and fish to registered gift-toting guests is not sensitive," she says. "This I do know, political, familial, or otherwise."

"They're Democrats," I whisper, not even knowing what party I belong to anymore. And by the way, where exactly have you gone, Joe The Plumber DiMaggio? (sorry, had to slip it in.)

'Just a dream, just a dream'

a) How has my life changed since I've been a voting adult?

... and...

b) How much of this 'change' do I attribute to government interaction?

The answers in order are:

a) A lot.


b) Zero.

I make the money I make. I pay the taxes I pay according to the tax code that's in place at the time. I either do or do not have health insurance on any given day depending on who I go to and who choses to participate in whatever plan I subscribe to. I basically do what I'm told (not really) as mandated by the rules of life in general.

What I'm saying is I just don't feel strongly one way or another about any of the choices on my ballot this go-round. I'm not so sure those running for office do either. I've watched every debate with as objective a mind as someone who doesn't give a crap can. I'm telling you, juxtapose the sound bites and distort the voices and I'll be damned if they're not all proclaiming the very same thing--Utopia. Opiate. Bullshat....

I go back to the mail on my desk. I look at the voter registration card I just received and study the front. My name is misspelled. I glance at the wedding invitation tucked between the pages of a half read article about Cindy McCain in The New Yorker. The accompanying illustration makes her appear prettier than she really is. I pull out the makeshift bookmark and examine it. Chicken or fish? I finally come to a conclusion:

When improperly prepared, fish can actually taste like chicken. And what could possibly be worse than that? The opposite, I suppose. I check Will Not Attend and throw it back on top of the pile of other undecided rhetoric on my desk. Note to self: 'unjam the shredder.'

Geno Petro

assorted lyrics by R.E.M.

photo courtesy of C. McCain's medicine cabinet

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