Monday, October 10, 2005

Know what a serpentine belt is?
Here's a hint: It's not what a snake wears to hold his pants up.

This morning I trekked about five miles from my inert car to the nearest phone, located in a store displaying a long rack of rifles above a metal aquarium seething with bait-minnows. The proprietor let me use his rotary phone to call for a tow, and he told me to help myself to a Pepsi. I had no cash on me, but he said that I could pay him the next time I was nearby.

I grew up in an area where you couldn't get a penny for your thoughts without giving a receipt, so this kind of in-your-face trust is really alien to me. I thanked him but declined his offer, and in my mind he assumed the roll of Friendly, Helpful Stranger. Then he recounted his own tale of automotive woe.

A few years back, in Cleveland, his car just "sput-sputted and died." After a moment's reflection, he popped the hood and got out to take a look. He kept his lug wrench in hand "because it was, you know, one of them colored districts."

I gasped something like "g-whuh?" and I think I experienced the cognitive dissonance familiar to Bush-worshippers faced with irrefutable proof of his evil idiocy. My guy had morphed from Kindly Proprietor to Stereotypical Backwoods Bigot faster than you can say "squeal like a pig."

So how did I react? I nodded politely and said I'd wait outside for the tow truck. Cowardly, yes, but for all I know Zed was in the basement with a trussed-up geek. And no one had seen me enter the store. Hmm...

In 2004 my county went for Bush by a 3% margin (if memory serves). That means that any given neighbor is about 50% likely to have been wholly insane on November 2nd, and one hopes that they've recovered since that time.

But it seems to me that somebody has to be in the 37% still supporting our President. Maybe Bush has a lock on that demographic represented by those ready spot you a Pepsi if you're white or to tighten your lugs if you're from "one of them colored districts."

Anyway, who uses a rotary phone anymore?

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