We were off on the side of the road, hoping somebody with a gas can would stop. “If we had to run out of gas, this is a great place to do it!” I said enthusiastically. “I’ve seen a six-point buck and an eight-point buck already, and we’ve only been here a little over an hour.”
Patty was seething. “Ace, I pointed out four exits back that the gas was low. I reminded you three exits back. I told you two exits back we were almost on empty. Right before the last exit I told you the gas gauge was in the red.”
“Whoa there, Patty,” I said. “Let’s not play the blame game. Who could have known that you can go less than thirty miles when the gauge shows empty? They just don’t make ‘em the way they used to.”
“That’s what you said the last time we ran out of gas,” she complained. “And the time before that. And the time before that.”
“These things happen,” I said. “Nobody could have predicted it.”
“I hope you’re happy that we’re missing my baby sister’s wedding,” she said bitterly.
“Hey,” I joked, “if we miss this one, we’ll just catch Louellen the next time around.”
“She’s only been married twice,” hissed Patty. “At least she’s got sense enough to know when she’s made a mistake. Unlike some people I know.”
“Hey, wait just a minute there,” I said. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Ace,” she said, “you remind me of George Bush.”
“Well, it’s about time you had something nice to say about me,” I said with relief.
“He gets a briefing that al Qaeda has a plot cooking to use domestic airplanes in a terrorist attack, and he decides to stay on vacation and chop some more wood. Then, when they level the World Trade Center, he’s all outraged innocence. Taken completely by surprise.
“He ignores warnings from the State Department and people like Senator Byrd that he needs to have a plan in place for managing Iraq once we’ve conquered it, and then he skips ahead to get a war going in time for the election. When everything turns to chaos—looting, power and water supplies cut off to huge parts of the country, security nonexistent—he acts as if it was inevitable.
“He ignores the almost-unanimous warnings of scientists that our auto emissions and old power plants are major contributors to the greenhouse effect, and fights to let them both keep spewing out pollution. Then when the warm ocean turns mild hurricanes into killers, he claims they’re acts of God.
“He cuts funding to repair levies in New Orleans, lets his developer buddies drain the marshes that acted as natural buffer zones, guts the Federal Emergency Management Agency of its professionals and turns it over to incompetent cronies, ignores warnings of what would happen if a major hurricane should hit, and decides to hang out for another five days of vacation when the city is drowning and people are dying.”
“What are you saying here, Patty?” I asked. “That the guy’s unlucky, or what?”
She cut loose with some language which, frankly, I found shocking. “Patty,” I said, “your mother raised you better than that.”
She glared at me. “’Moron’ is not a four-letter word.”
“Look, Patty,” I said, “cut me some slack. If you’re going to make me out to be George Bush, how about your being a little more like Harriet Miers, and a lot less like Cindy Sheehan?”
“Ace,” she said, “I’d cut my tongue out with a rusty jackknife before I’d tell you you’re the most brilliant man I’ve ever known.”
“Wait a minute,” I protested. “If Harriet Miers can do it, what’s your problem?”
© Tony Russell, 2005