Friday, June 11, 2004

late to work

My first political allegory dream:

It’s a beautiful, sunny Saturday late morning in Los Angeles. The grass has been watered, the weeds pulled and Ali and I share my father’s house. We’re standing on our porch smoking and chatting with the married couple who live next door. They’re blonde and qentle. I’m holding a clutch of flowers and am about to go inside to put them in water when a young guy, about 25 or so, ambles up. He’s in a yellow shirt, khakis and you can see that he wears short sleeve t-shirts under his buttoned-down shirt.

I think he’s a Mormon and I try to hustle Ali inside so we don’t get stuck talking about Moroni or something stupid like that. He has wavy brown hair, brown eyes, and glasses. A surprisingly dark growth of stubble and it’s only 11 am or so. The next door neighbors also think he’s a Jehovah’s witness or something. The nosy old lady on the other side of us calls out, “He’s one of those young kids from the Republican Party. They’re going door to door. He wants to give you a Republican sticker.”

Ali says, “Dammit, I wish we had a Republican sticker. Then he’d leave us alone.” We both look at our John Kerry sticker on our porch post. Our Vote John Kerry sign on the lawn. We’re doomed. But we hope that his youth will let him be easily intimidated and he’ll go away.

He catches us just as we’re about to go inside. He walks across the lawn to us between the two houses and just stands there, smiling up at us, slightly squinting, his shirt a little wrinkled. He’s a little soft around the middle. He looks like he’s been walking a lot. Our neighbors wait on their side of the lawn.

Ali looks down. “We’re Democrats, you know.”
“Yeah, I probably got that.”
“Whatever you say, it’s not going to work.”
He looks around. “Well, a sticker’s gotta start somewhere. All you need is just one.”
Ali snorts. “Good to know you have low expectations.”

But he just laughs and stands there, his hands in his pockets. Green chili peppers start to bloom out of my flowers as I’m looking at him. Ali starts talking about how Republicans are weeds in the garden of democracy and how it’s the Democrats job to do it. To demonstrate, she plucks the peppers from my bouquet and starts flinging them at his feet. They spread and lay down a chili carpet on the front lawn that’s not so bad looking. Our neighbor looks across and sighs, “Oh, Ali, you’re so good with plants. I wish my lawn would do that.”

But the young Republican just stands there smiling. He’s not moving. Ali growls and stomps off to the side of the house and back into the backyard. We’re actually about to have a barbecue and are expecting people – some friends, some from work. You know. People. The neighbors think the show is over and go back inside. I’m still on the porch frowning down at the young Republican.

“Aren’t you going now?”
He says, “Is she mad at me? Should I apologize? I think I should apologize.”
“Uh, we’re having people over and I don’t think you should--“

But he walks down the driveway toward the backyard. I can hear Ali laughing with some people already out there. He’s going to make her freak out. So I scramble off the porch and run down the long driveway and skid to stop in front of him. I lean against the fence and smile and say, “You wanna know why we’re not republicans here? It’s not the fiscal responsibility thing; I think that’s ok. It’s the social stuff. I look at the Republican Party now and see a mean white man who hates everyone. I actually grew up a conservative. I was Baptist. Southern Baptist. So I know how you conservatives think.”

He protested, “But that’s not really who we are.”
I shrug, “Yes it is. You guys are mean and small-minded and remind me of the angry white guy who was our pastor who told me I couldn’t wear lipstick. I was fifteen! That’s all fifteen year old girls do!”
“And if I told you that the party had changed, that we’re different now?”
“Then what would be the point? I’m already a Democrat.”

By this time, we’ve wandered into the backyard. It’s large and green and there’s a cool little white tent in the back of the lawn, where a small group of friends sit drinking beer and laughing. Ali sees us and stomps over.

“Ding, what the fuck?”
“He just followed me! I can’t shake him!”
He says, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I wanted to apologize and then we were just talking and now we’re here and I totally understand if you want me to go – “
Ali snorts. “Yeah!”
He continues, “But if I could just give you the Republican blessing. Then I’ll go.”

Ali and I look at each other. We’ve never heard of a Republican blessing. What new-fangled election stealing trick is this? I can see that Ali is curious as all get out. She wants to see the Republican blessing so that she can totally make fun of it and spread it around. So she says, “Well, we don’t want to be rude.”

The three of us are standing in the early afternoon sunlight of Los Angeles so everything takes on a tangerine glow. There’s a faint sheen of sweat on his upper lip. This boy comes from a cold climate if he thinks this is hot, I’m thinking. He’s squinting at me, he’s squinting at Ali. He’s awfully still, like a squirrel who thinks he’s hiding in the middle of an open lawn.

Then, he lunges across, grabs me by my shoulders and totally kisses me! I’m beating my arms against his chest, his arms, his chest, his neck, and he has me sort of twisted around. I can hear Ali totally guffawing in the background. When he lets me go, I smack him hard across the chest.

“What the fuck was that?? THAT”S the Republican blessing?”
And Ali is laughing her ass off. “Oh my god, oh my god, that was hilarious. He was totally eating your face. And you were squeaking!”
He’s looking all weird, then he’s like, “I gotta sit down.” Ali grabs me and takes me to the tent where everyone is sitting, also laughing their asses off. She’s totally like, “That was so funny!” and I’m like, “That was awful, I was kissed by a Republican!”

Ali says, “Oh, you know you liked it. You were into it.”
I say, “Ok he’s a good kisser, a really good kisser, but that was totally inappropriate. He has to leave – he’s nuts.” Then Andy, a coworker, winks across the table at me. I can’t really hear what he’s saying because the young Republican is coming up to the tent looking abashed yet determined. He creeps up behind Ali and puts both arms around her, pressing his cheek to her back.

She jumps. “Whoa, mister!”
“Everyone needs a blessing!”

Everyone scatters. It’s just me and him in the tent, warily circling the table. I try and fake him out, he blocks me. I try again. He blocks again. And now he’s chasing me around the table. “I have to give you the blessing,” he says.
“What is your deal?” I say.
“I have to give you the blessing!” He lunges across the table, knocks it down and I skip out of reach.

We’re running, we’re chasing, we’re out of the tent, I swerve onto the lawn (my father’s backyard has never accommodated a footrace before) and Andy starts giving a running commentary on the race: “the young Republican hangs in her left blind spot, just tracking her while Ding, faster than we thought possible, has trouble scaling the little garden wall…” Oh, it’s all so funny, isn’t it? But I’m running out of steam. I can’t keep running in little circles like this. And so I slow down, he leaps at my legs, I trip, I fall and he’s on me. It’s like gradeschool. The boy on top trying to kiss the girl on the bottom and she’s twisting away, kicking her feet up and down. And ok, it could also be like rape, but it wasn’t that dark. It was just annoying to have the kissing Republican wrestle me down in my own backyard.

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