The Truth (With Jokes); Chapter One
Chapter One of The Truth (With Jokes) -- see my sidebar for Amazon.com ordering button.
I'm not going to tell you what's in chapter one, other than that it's a recounting of Al Franken's experiences on November 2, 2004. Remember that night? It was made all the more terrible because positive signs had been emerging the previous two months and I was just beginning to have hope for my country again. Then John Kerry lost.
I'm having a difficult time getting through the first chapter.
Not that it's not typical Al Franken funny. Maybe it's not, I can't judge. Memories keep surfacing which significantly dull the funny.
My Chapter One of The Truth (With Jokes)
That day, my husband and I lived in Florida still, but had cast absentee ballots since we were visiting our families along the front range. That day, we were in Cheyenne, where everyone besides my husband and I were strong Bush supporters. Someone was going to be crestfallen and bitter that day, so we had planned in advance with my parents to either ask that the TVs be off, or we would be out during the evening when the returns were coming in.
We had gone out during the day, probably to a movie or the Wyoming State Museum. When we came back, my mom said that it looked like John Kerry was going to win. I tried not to show my pleasure, not wanting to gloat or to jinx the outcome, and said "you never know, it's still early." The TV was on, and my brother was showing no inclination to turn it off, so my husband and I decided to go out drinking.
We started at Sanford's Pub & Grub, which was the Medicine Bow Brewery when we were dating in the 90s (Vedauwoo Wheat, anyone?). Of course the TVs were on, but there was more ability to ignore them. Then to CB&Potts. More TVs. Huge TVs that covered the walls and were very loud. Not even NTN to distract, since they got rid of NTN. And things were starting to look not good for Kerry.
Next we went to the Snake River Pub & Grill, a restaurant at one end of Cheyenne's lovely historic train Depot. The menu board near the entrance featured a Bush burger and a Kerry burger, two burgers with different toppings that people could order to reflect their support for a presidential candidate. I think it was a fundamentally flawed measurement, since the Bush burger had better toppings (how many people like blue cheese on their burger? You have to be in a specific mood). The Bush burger was just barely ahead.
Again with the TVs. But there were drinks to try, and trains kept rolling by to distract. However, I couldn't help but periodically glance at the TVs and notice that the early exit polls were turning out to be very wrong. And I knew, I just knew, that we would have another four years of President McStupid. Slightly inebriated and totally invested in a Kerry win, I actually started to cry in public. It took a few minutes, but I managed to get the silent tears under control. When we left, I still couldn't bear to go to my parents', so we went to the lounge at the Hitchingpost Inn.
Now that's what I call a lounge. Dark ambience, flickering candles, red lights, and booths with semi-circular bench seats, the kind a goodfella sits at on "girlfriend night," but with a western flare and no Bobby Vinton.
How a Stripper, a Cowboy, an Englishman, a Country Rap, and Lots and Lots of Liquor Saved the Day
I was glad that it was dark, in case I started crying again. The best I could hope to do was to hide, deny, and numb the pain. We snuggled up next to each other in the booth, my husband's comforting arm around me, and I drank vodka & tonic after vodka & tonic until I started to notice something sublime. I was surrounded by absurdities.
Of course the lounge itself was the first absurdity, as classically smarmy as it was. A great place for sadly, pathetically drunken people to meet when they're past their prime. Since I didn't see any sadly, pathetically drunken people elsewhere, I guess it must have been my husband and I. At least we fit in.
There was a drunk stripper having drinks with a young man at the bar. He was quietly pawing her without her seeming to notice while she was having the type of loud conversation with another drunk sitting on her other side that you would expect a drunk stripper to have; unselfconscious, matter-of-factly tawdry, yet titillating complaints and stories about work. That was the center ring until she decided it was time to stagger into the parking lot with her escort. We can only guess their ultimate destination.
Next I noticed the very drunk cowboy (in shearling coat, hat, and boots) having a discussion with a drunk Englishman (he sounded like he was from northern England) about politics. The difference between the queen and a president; the commonwealth; experiences as a soldier in Northern Ireland. They were faced away from me at the bar, so I only got snippets.
Then a country rap song came on, and I was giddy with delight. In 2001, people were making fun of the notion of country rap, compiling amusing lists: My Wife is Phatt and My Kidz are Stoopid!; Gettin' Jiggy with My Piggy; Crop Killa. In 2004, it had become a reality. Rather than such a song being a sign of impending doom for humanity, it let me know that somehow (mainly with mood-enhancers and a fine appreciation for absurdity), our country would make it through the next four years. I giggled out loud till it was over, sighed resignedly, and accepted the night's outcome.
To Cowboy Troy (or whoever he was; I don't listen to that crap) for pushing the absurdity to new undreamt-of heights.
To Vodka Tonics. Lots and lots of Vodka Tonics with little plastic swords impaling lime wedges. They don't even have to be well-mixed.
To colorful drunken characters in lounges with ambience.
To the Hithchingpost Inn, for being my snakepit. (The idea is, if you put a sane person in a snakepit, they will go insane; if you put an insane person in a snakepit, they will become sane)
And an extra special "Praise Jesus' General" to Jesus' General, who puts the past several years into the proper perspective, keeping us all laughing at the absurdity rather than imploding.