IT WAS A rather quizzical moment, but then again it’s been a rather quizzical year. Still, when the world seems to have come loose from its moorings, and the general public is suffering from desperations and hostilities so intense that solitude is the only dependable companion, I can always count on my morning run to give myself a healthy dose of fresh air and a good old fashioned rush of serotonin. The body becomes limber, the extremities are oxygenated, I feel better about things in general, and I can exchange a few waves with the neighborhood without getting locked into some tedious conversation about virus conspiracies, doomsday economic projections, or at the very worst, national politics. Runners move in a different orbit than the casual pedestrian and as such are usually left alone to their focus and momentum.
Today was mostly desolate. Not many people out, although it was a beautiful morning. Sunny, mid-sixties. I was cruising along on a quiet stretch of backroad when a rather rundown Toyota Camry sped by me, Lyft sticker prominently displayed, and the driver yelled, “Drunk!” at me.
I spent the rest of my jog completely mystified.
True, I’d been known to have a drink now and again; and by now and again I mean now and again five minutes after now and again and again and again and again. Still, it wasn’t like I’d polished off a few beers before setting out. I was actually, for the moment, sober. I chalked it up to the driver chiding me for absently drifting a bit from my path, or weaving a little as I trotted along. Maybe he was drunk, and he was just letting me know to watch out for him in his shabby taxi and his compromised condition. Lyft, as I understand it, has a very loose criteria for its driving candidates. They will accept a licensed driver with no more than four DUIs, they may only smoke weed in between fares unless the passenger gives his express consent, and they drive like the mother of their children is chasing them down for child support. The cars themselves leave a bit to be desired, too. Loose bumpers, dents all around, poor exhaust, cum stains abound, upholstery hanging down in tatters, and bungee cords repurposed as seat belts. They boast that their cars have four wheels, an engine, a general trajectory, and a reasonably safe delivery rate provided too much stuff doesn’t get in the way of the path of travel.
I got home and stretched out for a cool down, still curious about the driver’s weird exclamation of “Drunk!” Something was off about the whole thing. I couldn’t let it go, until I was hit with one of those moments of clarity when I realized he hadn’t yelled “Drunk!” He’d yelled, “Trump!”
Still weird, but now at least his outburst made a bit more sense. It’s election season, after all, and this lone canvasser was doing his part to ensure his favorite president got to kick it around the White House for another four years. Then I started wondering whether he was rallying me as part of the loyal base, or trying to antagonize me with a looming right-wing victory. I pondered how I’d been interpreted. I wasn’t wearing a mask so perhaps I seemed pro-Trump. I was wearing blue shorts, the color of the Democratic party, which could be construed as anti-Trump, but that was only because my others were in the wash. I’m white, which could definitely be interpreted as pro-Trump, but I was also exercising, which is obviously anti-Trump. I have a shaved head and tattoos, like a skinhead, which could be interpreted as pro-Trump, except I was steeped in quiet poise and concentration, which is definitely anti-Trump. I was in the South, which is the land of the Confederacy and certainly pro-Trump, but I was outside instead of being glued to Fox News, presumably anti-Trump. What a curious enigma I am!
More than likely it was an indiscriminate clarion call. Animal, vegetable, and mineral would’ve gotten an earful of his “Trump!” endorsement. I considered him, then, the enthusiastic ward heeler. From the looks of his car he’d most likely not gotten a piece of the big payoff promised in 2016. Now, if he’d cruised by me in a Bentley with a top hat and a big old stogie shouting his support for the president, I would’ve accepted his support as a solid testimonial from an obvious success story. Maybe he’d felt gypped, and believed the president needed another four years to truly deliver on his prosperity gospel to all of his supporters, and not just the ones who were already rich. Then I started feeling sorry for the doomed son of a bitch, since more than likely he was simply an indoctrinated squawk box doing the bidding of billionaires, with little more to show for it than an old clunker and a carful of masked strangers complaining that the seats are sticky and the music is too loud. Like that fellow from Florida who sent those bombs to all those liberals, and who went from living in his van to living in the similar square footage of a prison cell, there is not much room at the top for even the most devout followers from the lower sections of society. The politicians need them but they don’t really want them, at least not too close. The only benefit of a Trump victory for this ride-share chauffeur would be no waiting period for the rifle that he would be purchasing, no abortion for his girlfriend, and the same general income and cost of living.
This line of thought was depressing. Forget all that. I changed my mind, deciding that I’d actually heard him yell, “Drunk!” as a simple, exuberant suggestion for this most glorious of days. Smart man, and a terrific idea, as I removed the cork from a bottle of Don Julio. It’s great to be alive, but it’s a little greater to be alive and “Drunk!”
Some things, thankfully, do not rely on elected office.
More Alembics to come.