This train of thought chugged into the station when I read of Gore Vidal's death. If I had but one wish for my country, it would be for more effective education for more people, even if we have to feed them and take care of their health so they can pay attention when little and remember stuff they learned as they grow older. Clearly, the country needs me to have more than one wish. Oh, well. Gore's intellect was one of a kind, and even if you found him disagreeable, it was rare not to find him delightful. Here's a YouTube of Gore in a cherished moment.
It's been said that Gore was one of the models for the President Josiah Bartlet, probably for Bartlet's sense of intellectual isolation and his scalpel-brain. I don't doubt it. Jed Bartlet was the best President I never voted for, and I was sad and furious when the reality of term limits ended The West Wing. I didn't watch the show to see the soap-opera lives of the staff, nor the rise to greatness of the Press Secretary (yes, she worked hard and had a real brain, but since one of the show's writers was a former Press Secretary, wasn't her apotheosis inevitable?) - I watched to see how President Bartlet would steer us on a righteous course, all the while speaking actual English.
Here's another favorite moment: President Bartlet was watching a television show that might have been Jerry Springer, and the panelists, having broadcast the secrets of their sad and tacky sex lives, began to fight with one another. POTUS' horrified reaction: these people don't vote, do they? I can't get the embed code to work, but I think you can watch this scene here.
I would never deny anyone his or her right to vote. But every so often, I run into someone who - well, as Himself would say, whether or not that #%*+%# votes is not a real-world problem. To vote, first you have to find the polling place.
So, I'm wondering whether this guy will get out the door on Election Day:
Scene: gate xxx, JFK. A gate attendant grabs a handful of tags and starts to prowl among the waiting passengers, occasionally snapping a tag on a carry-on. He stops in front of me and tags mine.
Me: Hey, what's that?
GA: This bag has to be gate-checked.
Me: But, but it's smaller than a legal pad! (8½ x 14 inches)
GA: the size doesn't matter (oh, I bet he says that a lot). The plane is very full and very heavy.
Me: But the bag has stuff I need for the flight. It fits fine under a seat or in the overhead, I fly with it all the time.
GA. Sorry, the plane is overweight, and the flight was oversold. This bag can't go in the cabin. It will be checked with the rest of the checked baggage in the baggage compartment, and returned to you when you deplane. We need to lighten the cabin. The bag will be on the same plane with you, don't worry.
He pats the tag again and continues through the lounge.
I circle in the other direction, stand between the desk and the bag, remove tag, remove jacket, take sweater out of bag, insert jacket, put on sweater and scarf, wait until my "group" is called, board plane with bag. No one even looks at me.
I know lots of new elements have been discovered since I was in 9th grade, but did I miss the reinvention of Gravity?
Or this lady:
Scene: our favorite retailer. Sister and I are shopping on a blistering summer night.
Me: so her interviews are at a facility in Arizona, where it's even hotter than here, and she needs a professional-looking, very tailored jacket and skirt, lightweight fabric, with a very simple solid-color blouse.
SA: You won't go wrong with our gaBOR-dee-oon separates.
Sister: These things are heavy. They're wool.
SA: Yes, it's a wonderful all-three-season fabric. Our gaBOR-dee-oon is famous for holding its shape.
Me: These things are heavy. They're wool.
SA: Our gaBOR-dee-oon is an all-three-season fabric. We sell it for year-round wear.
Sister: July in Arizona is the fourth season. (to me) Uh-oh, we need to leave now.
Me: What kind of fabric is it again?
Sister: come on, Loehmann's will be closing.
Me: I just want to hear her say it again.
SA (oblivious to sisterly tension, as well as to everything else) It's gaBOR-dee-oon from a famous Italian fabric mill of which I can't tell you the name of.
Me: but we're sure it's famous, right? and in Italy? Even though it's a secret?
Sister: I hate you.
A last vignette, from the elevator in Flintstone Towers, me and a neighbor:
Me: The gentleman from (apartment number) told me he was on QVC last night and sold out. I'm sorry I missed him.
Neighbor: He doesn't need the money. He's in the Mafia.
Me: But he's Jewish.
Neighbor: Trust me, he's in the Mafia.
Me: But he said he had to go on the show in the middle of the night because the only other dates they offered him were on High Holy Days.
Neighbor: He's in the Mafia.
Me: Are you sure? I've seen the whole family walking to services. If they're anything, they're Orthodox. I've been to a Sabbath dinner on their apartment.
Neighbor: The whole family's in the Mafia. It's a family business.
Me: I'm confused, why would a whole family of Sicilian gangsters pretend to be Jewish?
Neighbor: How should I know? Probably the golf.
OK, this one I'm copyrighting. All rights reserved.