Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2004 / 2 Kislev, 5765
Getting readjusted to a non-political world
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | I woke up one recent morning with an inexplicable feeling of bliss. What had happened overnight? A fleeting dream of youthful innocence? A tantalizing scent wafting in on the pre-dawn breeze? A mini stroke?
Then it hit me. The election was actually over. No more obsessing over the slightest nuance of the latest issue. No more stomach-churning anxiety every time an acquaintance asked me which candidate I preferred. No more tracking the polls, analyzing the economic signals, parsing the press releases. No more, "It's the war on terror, stupid."
I was free. "Four more years" might be a victory cheer for some, an anguished cry of despair for others. For me, it meant month after endless, joyful month of real life without politics, again living in a world in which people could express differences of opinion without calling into question each other's intellectual capacity, moral character or commitment to the well-being of the global community.
I immediately called Katie, a dear friend with many admirable qualities and only one real fault: Against all reason, and my best arguments, she supported John Kerry for president, threatening the very foundations of our relationship. Surely she must be equally glad the whole thing was over and eager to put it behind us.
"Did you call to gloat?" was the first thing out of her mouth.
"No, no. What we need now is unity. We need to reconnect to our common purpose."
"That's big of you. What did you have in mind?"
"I thought a nice trip might be just the thing."
"The lake, of course."
"Oh, come on! That's the only place you ever want to go."
"Well, I remember when you thought it was a pretty good idea."
"You made it sound so good - perfect weather, peaceful nights, quiet contemplation."
"So, you were for going to the lake before you were against going to the lake?"
"It was excruciatingly boring, not a single, solitary thing to do."
"I promised quiet contemplation, and you went along, and now you're trying to redefine it as boredom. Talk about wanting to have it both ways."
"I was never against the idea of the lake, that's right, just what it turned out to be under your direction. It was the wrong trip to the wrong place at the wrong time."
"OK, fine. Where do you want to go?"
"I don't know."
"Oh, swell. You criticize my plans, but you don't offer a clear alternative. Isn't that just typical?"
"Well, then, let's go to the city."
"The last time we went there, you said it was too noisy and crowded."
"I've changed my mind. Now I'd like to do a little shopping."
"A little shopping? You don't quit even when you've maxed out your credit cards."
"Well, I seem to remember you spent quite a bit of money the last time."
"Yes, on you, and it wasn't enough. I bought you a puppy, and all you've done is complain. I could never outspend you, not in a million years."
"You bought me a puppy that grew into a dog, which required food and toys and trips to the vet. If you're going to start something and then not fully fund it, you might as well not bother."
"You know, I think we might have trouble coming back together."
"It would be easier if you weren't stubborn, if just once you'd admit you made a mistake."
"No, it would be easier if you'd stop being so wishy-washy and just once could actually make up your mind."
Did I say four more years? Did I say endless, joyful months? Maybe it was a mini stroke.