Originally published: September 3, 2010
The Washington DC area recently hosted a rally featuring conservative talk show host, Glenn Beck and an estimated 87,000 attendees. The event was well covered in the news and blogosphere, so no need to add to that. But I find myself wondering if this event heated up the atmosphere, strengthening a mere squall into conditions favorable for a prolonged and brash anti-liberal downpour. If so, then my family and I definitely experienced a couple of weather-related incidents that week.
The first occurred late Thursday night. During a week of deadline-induced long days, my husband boarded Metro’s Orange Line for home. Standing inside were two young men, dressed in cargo shorts, sandals and casual button-down shirts. As the train idled at Farragut West station and people got on and off, the two began clapping and singing boisterously, “If you hate Obama clap your hands (clap clap)!” They were looking around, assessing the reaction from those around them, exuding a celebratory vibe. A commuter called out as he headed to the doors, “Go back to Utah!” One of the youths quipped that he didn’t live in Utah, to which the man answered as he exited, “Well, you should.” Then one of the young men said loudly to a different man who making his way out, “I guess you didn’t like the Obama thing! Hey, are you married?” As he stepped out of the train, the man answered that yes, he was married. With glee, the youth yelled happily after him, “Well, at least you’re getting screwed by your President!”
A few days later, my husband was working from home, and as school had not yet started for our kids, we decided a lunch out would be just the thing. So we drove to the Arlington neighborhood of Clarendon, parked on a metered side street, and enjoyed sandwiches at a local joint called Earl’s. When we returned to the car, there was a large truck unloading bikes next to us. We still had 9 minutes on the meter, but there was a white square of paper under the wiper, which couldn’t be a ticket. I thought immediately that someone had hit our car and that the good citizen had responsibly left a note. I glanced at the truck, half expecting the driver to give me an apologetic wave. My husband extracted the stiff paper and read it. It wasn’t a ticket, or a confession with insurance info. It was this:
- taking up
- Unreal you
Granted, we drive a Toyota Prius, and yes, it has a number of what might be considered liberally-minded bumper stickers: United Nations, Obama (x3), Human Rights Campaign. And yet in spite of these damning sentiments, I was perfectly situated within the dimensions of my allotted parking spot. There was a space in front of me and a car parked behind. And since when do we Liberal Douches typically slop over into two spaces? Are you kidding? We’re so full of guilt and self-loathing at our own carbon footprints that we can barely muster the strength to occupy one such space. He/she (Ok, let’s be honest: he) really got it wrong.
And an older “he” certainly. Pinko? (Would you like a slice of Cold War
Pie with that epithet, mister?) The handwriting was lovely– very old school. Lots of Big Capitol Letters. The mark was thick and black – none of your cheap-o chicken-scratch ballpoints. The ink was so juicy it even smeared in places.
To write this missive, this man had taken the time to dig out paper and pen from his car – wherever he’d managed to park (actually, there were lots of empty spaces). Flipping it over I saw it was written on the back of a parking receipt from Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. It records that he pulled into the Blue parking level at 6:06 PM on 10-1-09, almost a year ago. So either his car trash is not often cleaned out, or he keeps a stash of scratch paper in his glove compartment, just for writing notes like this. Or maybe this was one of many stubs from Virginia Hospital; maybe the floor of his car is littered with them. I checked the hospital website; Blue level is for surgery, radiology, blood lab and other services. Could he be sick? Despite his note, I couldn’t help but begin to build a backstory, imagining reasons for his rage. Maybe he or his wife underwent surgery back in October and the surgeon didn’t get it all. Maybe it was his wife, and he couldn’t afford to give her the sort of funeral he’d wanted to. Maybe his children don’t come to see him anymore.
But then, maybe he’s just an angry man who got old but not wise.
So wherever you are, angry old man, my thoughts are with you, and I honestly wish you a speedy recovery from what ails you. And to you, cynical young men, I fervently wish you wisdom and temperance before you find that you, too, are angry old men. It’s true that these two incidents may have had nothing to do with Mr. Beck’s rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. But given the glowering storm clouds, at the moment it’s hard to imagine otherwise.