The Weather

The ABCs of an Election Year: Part Two

Read Part One (A-F) of the election alphabet here.

G is for getting a buzz. When I was in high school, a bunch of us wrote an “underground newspaper” which we dubbed, RIPT. The name was a nod to our underground readers that we were in solidarity with them: that we writers, too, loved to get high, to get “ript,” as it were. Back in his days of rebellion, Barry Obama also sat around with his boys, smoking joints, getting hungry, and getting ironic. Anymore, this is standard initiation for American youth, although there is peril in not breaking from those seductive clutches (he said, speaking from personal experience).

H is for haiku. These dizzying times beckon for a moment of poetic contemplation:

red states and blue states
our country is dipped in mud
we wear goulashes

I is for Icabod Ickwith. Mr. Ickwith was an aspiring political candidate who was tarred and feathered and run out of his Rhode Island town in 1821 for making scurrilous stump speeches. Ickwith claimed, “Forty seven percent of the American populace are a bunch of lazy, freeloading, drunken turnip-eaters.” Ickwith was never heard from again, but many believed he wound up a beggar in Utah.

J is for jumpshot. I’ve never seen Mitt Romney play basketball, but Obama sure has a smooth jumper. I’m sure Barack would take the Mittster going one-on-one or in a friendly game of horse. In a recent Sports Illustrated poll, ninety-eight percent of unlikely voters would like to see the candidates go head to head in a variety of games. A depressing twenty percent would like to see a “face-off” in “guillotine testing.” Another twenty percent would like to attend a match of medieval jousting, the best two of three. Given Romney’s exposure to the cavalry, swords, and dressage, he clearly would be the jousting favorite. Romney would win on a horse, while Obama would win at a game of horse.

K is for Kenya. That country, as we all know, is where Obama’s father came from. My roots go back to a German draft dodger who sailed for America to stay out of the army. Our last name means “storage house for beans.” Maybe our ancestors were German bean farmers. Or perhaps our last name was a euphemism, born in medieval times, for folks who were famous for their volumes of gas, or for the distinctive ways they cut the proverbial cheese. “Oh that Gunter, he is such a storage house of beans.” There is no shame in this. I have been known to “carry the family torch.” Just ask my wife. If I had a choice, however, I think I would rather claim lineage from Kenya, the land of long distance runners, than from the land of bloated bean eaters.

L is for limerick.

There was a young fellow named Ryan
Who came to our town a-cryin’,
“When it comes to the budget
I can magically fudge it,”
And was tomatered in the face for lyin’.

M is for mouthpiece. While we know that ventriloquists can’t really throw their voices, some possess skills so uncanny as to appear almost alien. I mean, when Mitt Romney stands before a microphone, you would swear that the sound masquerading as his own voice was emanating from his own lips. Many people are deceived by this. But if we follow the money before carefully pulling back the curtain, why, right there in their board rooms, in their leather-back chairs, we see the alien ventriloquists themselves. There they are, counting their millions, creating political dummies, stuffing their shirts, and inserting mouthpieces! Peek-a-boo, we see you.

N is for nitpicking. I know a thing or two about head lice. Back in my earlier social worker days, I spearheaded a project aimed at helping parents eradicate head lice from their children’s heads. (At the time, this seemed a just reward for going to graduate school.) I am here to report that a louse has a spouse who out of love produces numerous nits that very quickly grow into more adult lovers of each other. The only hope for lice-freedom, among other things, is to employ a zealous nitpicker. Comb, comb, comb, pick. Comb, comb, comb, pick. But still, the little bastards almost always return. Head lice, by extension, are the despicable lies spoken by politicians. You shine a light on them, you comb, comb, comb, and pick, pick, pick them clean. But in the end, they return to suck blood from the head, and contaminate the public’s thoughts and beliefs. (If you scratched your scalp while reading this, I understand.)

O is for Ohio. Nothing like a little pressure, eh, our buckeyed brethren? What’s it like to become everybody’s best friend for a few weeks every four years, only to be forgotten on a November Wedneday like the previous day’s garbage? We look to you Ohio, ol’ buddy, ol’ chum. But hey, no pressure.

The conclusion of the election alphabet is coming soon in The Weather.

Tom Bohnhorst is a social worker and lives in Traverse City, Michigan. In 1973, he spent a harrowing night in a Turkish jail. He also has a blog called Poopiderum.