It’s hot out there, and today I had to run some errands, only not “run”, more of a sweaty amble, and I ended up over-extending myself a bit. You see, I noticed while my wife was away last week that we had no family memorabilia on display, and as I get older, I’m gradually forgetting what they look like, and what their names are, and all that sort of thing, and as I looked up from my laptop one evening to this wide blank wall on the other side of the room, I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t a normal human being have pictures of their kids right there?” And then I thought, “Am I a normal human being?” and then “Do I want to be a normal human being?” and pretty soon I was having one of those philosophical arguments with myself in an empty house, which was a bit embarrassing.
So I decided I would put up some family photos, just to shut myself up.
I ordered some frames, and went through our digital photo collection, and picked out an assortment, and today I ran (“sweaty ambled”) out to the Thrifty White Pharmacy, where they have one of those fancy Kodak photo machines. Load in your digital images, punch a few buttons, and out pops your enlargements to the size you want. They’re nice. Also popular. It seems their is always a line backed up waiting to print out their photos, and do you know who always has lots of photos they want to print? People with families. And they bring their kids with them, which always seems beside the point — you have your little hellions jumping up and down and crawling all over you all the time, why do you need photos of them? Unlike me, who has been abandoned by his children, and is in peril of forgetting their names (I’m joking. I’d never forget Dweezil, Moon Unit, and Diva Muffin. It was entirely to end that stupid argument with myself.)
Knowing the likelihood of delays, however, I wisely brought a book along with me. That book was Al Franken, Giant of the Senate, by Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.
In case you’re ever traveling through Minnesota (I don’t know if it works elsewhere), I have to tell you that this book is a magnificent ice-breaker. So many women walked up to me and asked, “What do you think of that book?” or declared their love of Al Franken, which meant, of course, that they approved of me and my excellent taste in humor and/or politics. These were all women who had offspring pogoing by their side or dismantling the greeting card rack or just moaning in boredom, but that was fine, since all I was doing was killing time with conversation. Alas, though, I had to lie to them. I told them I was enjoying the book.
Which was only half a lie! Really, I’m thoroughly enjoying the wit and humor, the dedication to progressive politics, the jabs at the many cretinous personalities in the Senate, the decent humanity of the man. It is a delightful read.
As I read it, though, I noticed that I was…admiring Al Franken. There was respect. I had this feeling like finally, someone was saying and doing the right things. Most places in this country, you’re looking at your local politicians and wondering how that thing crawled out of cesspit and got itself elected, but here in Minnesota we at least got ourselves some decent senators to give us a tiny glimpse of hope.
I knew what that means, though.
Al Franken is going to break my heart someday. He’s going to get caught with his hand in the pocket of some slimy corporate assweasel — like Jared Kushner. He’s going to be tempted into a dalliance with some flirty 19 year old Hitler Jugend. He’s going to die in a flaming jet crash. He’ll bury the hatchet and become good buddies with Ted Cruz. It’s inevitable. All of my heroes disappoint me needlessly. It’s one piece of evidence that there is a god, and that god’s primary joy in its immortality is to notice when I’m feeling a faint flicker of hope in someone, so that they can strike them down with a thunderbolt of ignominy.
So I feel like I’m betraying the guy when I say I’m finding his work admirable and his goals laudible. It’s like painting a big bullseye on his back, and then waiting for the ineluctable betrayal.
Don’t you do it, Al. I bought your book. Stick to your principles. Live a long life and do good.
The cynic in me is still bracing himself for doom, though.