The Pumpkin Patch

The politics of business…the business of politics…the politics of marriage…the prison of marriage…the prison of prison…

Because we are approaching the autumn of the year, I’d like to start out this Alembic entry with a timely analogy. Politics is like a pumpkin. Thank you for reading. I bid everyone a good day.

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On second thought, I should qualify this claim, which is not as easy as I hoped it would be, since I find myself a bit stumped by my own position. Politics. Pumpkins. Hold on a moment, I can figure this out. Politics and pumpkins. Pumpkins and politics.

This is really my therapist’s fault. I had been complaining of some writer’s block and he suggested I just go for broke and stop obsessing over details. “Let it flow,” he said casually, like it was no big deal, like it was the easiest thing in the world, and now I find myself at a loss for the very point I was trying to make, and even worse, realizing that I have no point. I started out with politics on the brain. The mid-term elections are coming up. Also I had been reading about the conviction of Bob McDonnell, former Governor of Virginia, on charges of accepting bribes. (His sentencing is January 6th, so this blog entry may be relevant again at the beginning of the year.) Then I looked out the window and thought, “Autumn,” which in turn led me to think about pumpkins. That was about it. I decided to link up this random sequence, and that was where the problems began. I was getting annoyed with each passing second, angry that I had followed the advice of my therapist, (who is an idiot, after all–the neighbor of a distant relative who advertises in the “Massage” section of the free newspaper). I’d now have to make an appointment with my other therapist, the one that I use specifically to complain about my original therapist. Not that he is so much better, I suspect he is addicted to painkillers, but at least he’s usually too doped up to hand out any bad advice, and I can tell by the rate of drooling that he is pleased there are others in his profession who really can’t get it together.

Where was I?

Pumpkins. I should say that I am no pumpkin expert. In fact, I don’t even know if they are a fruit or a vegetable. I want to say vegetable, but the dizzying amount of seeds would seem to suggest a fruit. I’ll go with fruit, but that doesn’t seem quite right. It just doesn’t seem natural. Sort of like politics.

Aha! We’re getting there. Pumpkins, whether fruit or vegetable, or both or neither–(gourd!?)–are very good at appearing as if they haven’t already begun to rot. The family walking around the pumpkin patch, in search of the perfect pumpkin, can always find the one that looks sturdy and fresh, and then with a small stab of dad’s finger the family watches in horror as the thing sags and collapses while bugs run out from everywhere, and that horrible stench of decay is released, and the swarm of gnats rises up and attacks the kids, who cry and run in all directions, and now the whole family outing is ruined. (I’m feeling better about all this. I will hold off making any appointments with my second therapist.)

The people that are rich enough to afford the pumpkins pay for them and take them home and carve them up in all sorts of ridiculous, garish, hilarious, and grotesque ways and put them on display. They are ornamental. Outrageous. Entertaining. Spooky. They provoke fear, alarm, fascination. Then, after the holiday is over, the festivities have passed, and the pumpkins have outlasted their usefulness, the kids from the neighborhood are welcome to take them from the front stoop and smash them in the street.

The disgraced former governor Bob McDonnell and his wife Barbara are an orange stain on the pavement these days. I loosely followed the court case, as the couple tried to explain away something like a quarter of a million dollars in gifts from a big wheel named Jonnie Williams to promote his nutritional supplement company, Star Scientific, a company that because of all the bad publicity has had to change its name to Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals, which sounds like where Fred Flintstone goes to get his angina medication, or whatever medication a cantankerous cartoon might need. Paxil or melatonin, maybe.

It seems strange for Mr. Williams to waste money on political favors when, for the same amount of money, he could’ve just gotten some retired sports hero to stand in front of a camera and insist that “Anatabloc” is the reason they can still walk, and their brain contusions have healed, and their testicles haven’t fallen off like old apples dropping from a tree. Then again that might be the brilliance of Jonnie Williams, who has gotten much more publicity from exploiting the McDonnells than he ever could’ve gotten from some washed up athlete. “Anatabloc,” the miracle cure that has now become an albatross around the neck of the former governor, is derived from tobacco. I know nothing of it other than that, and already I’m a believer. Everybody knows that tobacco is good for just about any ailment. Stress. Boredom. Not being cool. Anything. I am a fan of old movies, particularly film noir, and I can’t help but notice that everyone is using tobacco, and they are about as productive a group of individuals as I’ve ever seen. In classic movies only the smack addicts sit around. The tobacco users are the movers and shakers. In the days before cell phones a person had to do something with their hands. Tobacco to the rescue. I’m not sure if taking “Anatabloc” requires smoking it, eating it, drinking it, shooting it or applying it as a topical salve, but it seems like a quality product, or else why would the governor of Virginia put his political heft behind it?

It hasn’t yet struck midnight for Ex-Governor Bob, and he may still be able to save himself from turning into the pumpkin. Rick Perry bought himself a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, and suddenly he is no longer the dim bulb that ran for president in 2012. I’m impressed with the move, and will be absolutely gobsmacked if it works. Ex-Governor Bob still has his supporters, and as time goes on, he’ll be able to charm them back. Politicians tend to turn their constituency into battered housewives, in a way, because when the officials inevitably go plumb crazy, their loyal followers make all sorts of lame excuses for their behavior. “He didn’t mean to do it. He really loves us. He just has a funny way of showing it. You just don’t know him like we do. And by the way, we got this black eye from falling down the stairs. Silly us. He doesn’t drink as much anymore and he wears spectacles. Let’s give him another chance.”

It is the spouses I tend to pity. The odds are very high that marriage to a politician will end not only in disgrace, but public disgrace. This may have been suggested somewhere along the way, but it might be a good idea, when marrying a politician, to somehow tailor the wedding vows to fit the inevitable shit storm the couple will most likely face in the oncoming years when the secrets are revealed, the lives stripped bare, and the money runs out. “Do you promise to love this person, honor them and keep them, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, till death do you part? Do you promise to stand there in humiliation, behind him, at the press conference or in court, or probably both, when he explains that he had an error in judgment? Will you try to muster some dignity when your husband throws you to the wolves in order to save himself from a possible prison sentence? Will you be physically able to keep the vomit down when your spouse, the politician, has to give lurid details of wild sexual encounters, drug use, or misappropriation? Will you be able to keep a straight face when he avows that Jesus Christ has stepped in to save him? Do you really understand the existential torture that will be involved in this union when you are put on display as a rotten pumpkin of hypocrisy and venal intent?”

You may now kiss the boob.

More Alembics to come.