1988: All Greek to Me

At the start of my senior year at Miami University, Republican presidential candidate George Bush made a campaign stop on campus. If you’ve never been in the path of a presidential appearance or even a candidate-for-president appearance, let me assure you that this is a Big Deal. The preparations must have been weeks if not months in the making.

I was not generally a political person at this point, though I generally learned toward the Democrats. However, when I was the editor of our high school paper I had interviewed State Representative Mike DeWine, a Republican, when he visited and gave a speech. He seemed like a sensible person, and over the years it was the memory of that interview that reminded me to vote for the better candidate rather than just for the familiar party. I voted regularly, though as a temporary resident of Oxford I chose to vote in my home district by absentee ballot rather than cast votes for local candidates, and on local issues, with whom (or which) I was unfamiliar.


When I saw how the lines were being drawn in advance of the visit, with the rich fraternity boys aligned with the College Republicans, I decided to wander over to a meeting of the College Democrats and see what they had going on. It turns out that they had some advance news of the level of security there would be for the speech. If you looked like a Democrat or in any way in opposition to Bush, you would be separated and kept far back of the main spectator area. Well, that hardly sounded fair. After all, we just wanted to listen like everybody else. But wait — they had a scheme that might get some of us close enough to see and hear the dignitaries.

The scheme was to make some smallish political posters, roll them up, and smuggle them past the checkpoint up our pants legs. It sounded about as likely as hiding under the bed to escape the detection of professional thieves, but it just might work. And against all odds, it did! I found myself up near the front, behind a row of the most muscled college students I had ever seen, next to a couple of equally incredulous fellow Democrats, all of us with posters stuffed up our pants. (Sure enough, those who had been caught were escorted far behind the crowd to where they could barely hear the speech.) But I had made it though the screening. Now I just needed to wait for Bush to appear, take out my little poster, and wave it around. I wasn’t trying to start a riot or make trouble; honestly, I was really hoping for Bush to unveil his economic plan at this point on his campaign trail.

The warmup act came on, and I was dismayed at the hateful rhetoric and ethnic slurs that were made in order to whip the crowd into a patriotic frenzy. “I went to college too,” said one speaker, “but I didn’t need to take GREEEEEEEK.’ The crowd roared at this insult to Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis (and possibly at the thought of easing the university’s foreign language requirement), missing the irony that most of the college students supporting Bush seemed to belong to fraternities and sororities. The rest of the speech was more of the same, and I grew disappointed and disillusioned as I waited through it. Surely Bush himself would take a higher ground than this, and we would get to hear about his plans for the country rather than just attacks on his opponent.


Bush in Troy, Ohio, in 1988.

Senator Bush came out, and so did our little posters for 70something Democratic senatorial candidate Howard Metzenbaum. We cheered and screamed and waved our posters, attracting the attention of the row of frat boys ahead of us. They took our posters, tore them up, and knocked us to the ground. I was furious but wasn’t really hurt. Senator Bush didn’t take a much higher ground than the other speakers, and after a few minutes of campaign clichés he was off the stage and escorted away by Secret Service, having convinced me of nothing. (His next stop was a meeting with the university’s Board of Regents, with whom he discussed his economic plan.)

After the main event broke up, there was a small counter-rally by the most liberal of the faculty members. Students who recognized their professors in the group gathered around and joined in for a while, briefly re-energized. Then that rally, too, broke up and we headed back to our dorms.

Postscript: Democratic candidates Mike Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen lost the election in November to George Bush and Dan Quayle, a poor speller from Indiana (Google “potatoe” if you don’t believe me) and no Jack Kennedy, helped along by the unfortunate image of self-admitted policy wonk Dukakis riding in a tank, looking like a geeky little boy playing Army. (Oh, and Howard Metzenbaum won!) The 1988 election was regrettable in many ways, but compared to recent events it seems bland and filled with naivete. Maybe it’s a good thing we can’t look too far into the future; we might stop walking forward at all.

Knitwise, I swear to all that is holy that I have just a few more rows to go on the Eternal Grey Shawl. I would have a better guess at this if my digital kitchen scale would cooperate, but all it does now is turn on and display which mode it is in (g/oz). The batteries are new, so something else is clearly wrong with it that I’m unable to fix. Every time I sit down to knit, I do two rows. I may be able to knit two more rows and then bind off tomorrow night. If it turns out that I had enough yarn to knit one more row, the extra yarn can go sleep with the fishes, the mermaids, and/or Jimmy Hoffa. I will be DONE.

So, let’s vote on my next project!

(A) Finish the Scrabble Blanket already!
(B) Pick a WIP, any WIP.
(C) Knit whatever you want as long as it’s not grey.
(D) You said you could crochet. Were you lying?
(E) Knit an elegant and impractical shawl in luxury yarn!
(F) Knit Nakia’s Shawl from Black Panther.
(G) ________________________________________________

Be honest, now. This is for science.

Published in: on June 4, 2018 at 9:56 pm  Comments (2)  


Recently I’ve been trying many new things, but mostly to slow down, take my time, think about what I’m going to do before I do it, and notice (without judging) how I feel. And while these things are valuable to try to do, it’s not on every day that I’m able to do them. My days seem to swing back and forth between “take your time and find your path, my child” and #notenoughhoursintheDAY. When you have three and a half minutes to be somewhere in ten minutes and you can’t find the car keys which are ALWAYS in the same place but today they’re NOT, and someone just realized you really meant to get in the car NOW (and he is, frankly, pretty pissed off about it), and someone ELSE for some reason can’t find their SHOES even though they were WEARING them when they got HOME half an hour ago and HOW could you lose your SHOES in thirty minutes when WE HAVE SOMEWHERE WE NEED TO GO, there isn’t the luxury of sufficient time for mature reflection and dispassionate self-analysis.

Shall we play a game?

Shall we play a game?

Some days you have to have a different method for figuring out how you’re doing. A good day — no, a great day — is like being at DEFCON 5, or Threat Level Green. That’s the day when I drift around the house, ruminating on my good fortune at being able to breathe freely, make my own decisions, and generally appreciate my relative autonomy. That’s the day when I react to good things by muttering “sweetheart” as I go about my business.

Now, I realize that muttering “sweetheart” to an almost empty house makes no sense. I’m not addressing myself or the dog. I don’t have a sweetheart unless you count the memory of having had one, many years ago. And that really just doesn’t count.

I think I say it — almost autonomically — because I feel happy. Comfortable. Settled. Cuddly. Peaceful. Forgiving. All the things you feel when you’re with your sweetheart and all’s right with the world.

A strange game....

A strange game….

Now, that being said, a more difficult day — a DEFCON 3, Threat Level Yellow Day — doesn’t get the same utterance. That’s the day when I feel I’m moving against the flow, swimming upstream, and generally working at cross purposes with the universe.  That’s the day when the word “asshole” spills from my lips. It’s not a “Fish Called Wanda”-level “ASSSSSHOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLE!” bellowing, just a kind of muted growl at seemingly constant low-level frustrations.

For a long time, I thought that these were the only levels I had. And then came a DEFCON 1 kind of day. Threat Level RED. An “I can’t go back to bed, so you’d better get out of my way” kind of day.


…the only way to win is not to play.

I don’t remember who or what set me off, or how it ever got resolved. All I remember now is that I was channelling the language of an extremely dissatisfied sailor. Whatever I was wandering around muttering, it probably sounded like “!@#$%ing @#$%s!!!!!!”

I like the “sweetheart” days much better. Pretending I’m not alone. Pretending someone understands completely. Pretending that everything, the way it is right now, is just fine and will never change. Oh, sweetheart, that’s just the way I like it.

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 11:38 pm  Leave a Comment