Things are crazy, we know. With the election looming, prickly nerves over the fate of democracy are being thrown into relief by minor infractions or spoken/misspoken words. “Did you fold the laundry?” “Did you fold the laundry?” “Did you do the dishes last night like I did?!” “Did you run the vacuum cleaner like I did?!” “Did you agghhh!” “Aggghhh!” Republicans think that if the old white guy with dementia wins, Western civilization will be cast into a burning pit where everybody rubs blood on their bellies and gyrates to industrial techno while making out with farm animals. The Do-Nothing Dems believe that if the other old white guy with dementia wins, well, we may never have another fair election until 2050 or beyond and that Black and brown people will be caged or deported or worse. Rage is all the rage now, and I’m referring specifically to a story I’ve been working on that doesn’t make sense no matter how hard I’ve tried to piece it together. It all starts with hamburgers.
Last Wednesday, a local guy with a guitar and a harmonica popped into a beloved burger joint where he knew song circles sometimes happened and where he hoped maybe other musicians were hanging out. He was hoping to play a few tunes, maybe drink a few beers, maybe even gnaw on a scrumptious burger. It was the guy’s first time inside. Settling in, he noticed a friend at the bar counter. Their talk soon turned to — guess what — politics, and the guy with guitar and harmonica accidentally revealed his lefty political leanings. After that, we have two conflicting stories.
On one side, we have the guitar/harmonica guy. A former U.S. soldier, he was eminently believable when he told me his version of events. He said the acquaintance he bumped into brought up politics and after not receiving “the right answers” labeled him “a liberal” for all to hear. The bartender allegedly came over, asked what was going on, was told the guitar/harmonica guy was a liberal, and simply told him, “Get out.”
The encounter, the guitar/harmonica guy said, was “pretty quick, short and sweet, and there was no interaction between me and the bartender after that. As soon as he found out I vote liberally at the moment, he went with that. I collected my instruments and moved on out.”
On the other side, we have the kicker-outter, the bartender, who was also eminently believable when he told me what he believes he witnessed. “I didn’t kick him out for any political opinion or view. I banned him for cussing at and yelling his opinion to other customers. I didn’t hear the conversation. He just got loud and started cussing his stance. … Looks like he wants to take a personal argument he had with another customer and make it our fault because he blew up and got booted. Some people, these days. It blows my mind.”
We may not agree on much, but if there’s one thing I think we can all agree on it’s that we’re growing less tolerant of one another’s political views. The right sees the left as a bunch of anarchists intent on burning down our cities and replacing law and order with vigilante justice. The left sees the right as a cabal of rich white people who hate Blacks and browns and who want a dictatorship led by Dear Leader. *thinking emoji* The ones among us with a little common sense know that while parts of our political animus may sound palatable, they are most likely farfetched. I know quite a few conservatives. Quite. A. Few. They’re not racists, and they respect the Constitution. I also know a lot of progressives, who love their cities and respect the law way more than many ReTrumplicans. We all need to calm the eff down! No, you calm the eff down!
The burger joint’s song circle that night was impromptu, the bartender said. He doesn’t believe gathering large groups of people together is wise. I asked the guitar/harmonica guy for some witnesses but never heard back. I asked the bartender for the same. He gave me a name (not traceable on social media), the acquaintance at the bar. I still haven’t heard from him. I guess instead of talking with me or arguing politics at the bar, he found something better to do with his mouth. Like stick another burger in it. — Anthony Mariani
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