“I have no idea why they’re pickin’ on her,” yelled my excited neighbor Gus.
“What do you mean?” Larry queried.
“You damn liberal! You full well know what I mean!” Gus roared in an annoyed tone. “Sarah Palin!”
“Oh, that’s who’s being picked on; I get it,” Larry answered, as Gus limped up the hill towards him.
“Don’t play dumb with me, Lar. I know you’re dumb and wrong on all the issues, but you know what your buddies in the liberal media are doing,” Gus said in his Southern drawl.
Gus has been a neighbor for the past 12 years and every morning, he catches Larry on his morning walk before he heads off to his teaching job at the local public high school. Around 6:30 a.m., Gus ambles up the street with his knee replacements for a routine morning walk. Their meeting happens in front of my house. On these encounters, he reminds Larry, a neighbor down the block of five years that, “He’s too liberal for the South and that he works in government-run schools that are supported by media elites in New York.”
“I’m not sure if I have any buddies in the liberal media,” Larry replied. “Remember, I’m a teacher in a government-run school system.”
“Oh, you got buddies in there Larry. You’re all in bed together. You dope smokers in the teachers union and the media — y’all are that tight with Rather,” Gus stammered as he squeezed his thumb and index finger tightly together while attempting to catch his breath. Gus is a big guy: 6’3”, 350 lbs. and walking from his front door to the mailbox is quite a feat, let alone up the street.
Gus has been out of work for over a year. He was an engineer for a small company called Digigram. They cut him loose after 25 years of service. Today, 55 year old Gus is living off his handsome severance package and his physician wife Sharon’s salary. Even with no job and knee replacements, Gus will never have to worry. He has loads of time to plan Hickory Hills meetings and opine on everything from installing chair rails to current events.
“Yes Gus, I’m out there with Dan Rather every night at the local pub,” Larry replied as he rolled his eyes.
“But seriously Larry, she’s a good girl who believes in the right values. They have no bidness pickin’ on her,” Gus said, as he adjusted his Auburn University ball cap to shield his watery, bloodshot eyes from the morning sun. Gus suffers from a number of allergies which he treats with a cocktail of over-the-counter and prescription meds.
“Well, I’m not sure if they’re picking on her. They’re just asking tough questions like they do of any candidate,” Larry answered.
Larry, dressed in his “teacher’s uniform,” which resembles outfits that consumer advocate/presidential candidate Ralph Nader wears, is the “uber-mellow” answer to Gus’ crusty conservative attacks. Both love the exchange and I love watching it from my front porch.
“Hogwash! Admit it! They hate her because she’s pro-gun, pro-life, pro-low-taxes! She’s the best thing the Republicans could ever hope for and now the hard left-wing liberal media wants to destroy her!” Gus screamed. “My friends in the party won’t let it happen. No sir, no way!”
We have known Gus through the Clinton and Bush II years. During those years, Gus repeated every word that was filtered through right-wing media. He felt it was his duty because he has been the Republican’s neighborhood team captain in our area from day one. At least twice a month, throngs of clean-cut suburbanites meet at Gus’ house to strategize for the future. Gus even has a Web site dedicated to this endeavor called the Hickory Hills Republican Club. Aside from its meeting announcements, the site contains text espousing,” Basic conservative values and Reaganism.” Pictures of Gus with Jeb Bush, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan, Dennis Miller, Ann Coulter and other right-wing personalities festoon the red, white and blue site.
“Ya gotta see what I added to the site, Lar,” Gus boasted. “I got five photos with the Palins! She’s sweet, Larry! I’m tellin’ ya, I don’t understand why they’re pickin’ on her!”
Gus attended his seventh GOP convention. “I’ve been to many before Liberal Larry, but this one was the best,” Gus ‘confessed.’
“Oh, so that’s why, you’re being even more defensive. You met her with all of your other idols. I don’t think you’re being fair here, Gus,” Larry said.
“I’m fair, God dang-it! So what if I got my picture with her. She’s gonna make a great vice president and you’ll see how wrong you are, Larry,” Gus exclaimed.”She’s gonna stare down Putin just like The Gipper did with Gorby.”
On this morning, I thought for one second that perhaps Gus was going to announce that he has been putting on an act for the past 12 years. Perhaps he will rip his mask off and say, “This is a crock!” But this character is the real deal. He drives a Ford F-350 that is buried in Auburn University bumper stickers, flags and of course, a Bush-Cheney ’04 sticker on his back window along with the brand-new dark blue “McCain-Palin Country First” sticker on the center of the window. On the other side is the sticker that reads, “Voting Democrat? You’re Stuck On Stupid!” It’s a “Redneck Light act” which confuses everyone who is in his path. My explanation is that he just drinks the GOP Kool-Aid, but many times I think that he checks his brain at the front door to his house.
“That Sarah Palin is gooood on the eyes,” he said, as he was walking around in circles to keep his knees moving. “I’m tellin’ ya Larry, she’s unbelievable.
“Oh, reason enough to vote for her,” Larry called back in a mocking tone.
This is a typical day in my neighborhood: Gus going after Larry and Larry somehow keeping his cool and not taking the bait.
“All right, that’s enough. I’ve had enough, but you’re wrong, Larry. I met her and she’s a smart, good lookin’ cookie. She knows how to handle the liberal media, liberal teachers, unions, the pro-gay marriage crowd, secular progressives…” Gus yelled as he ambled away in his sweat-soaked Auburn sweatshirt into the morning sunrise.