So who wants to hear a story?
I’m remembering, for some reason, being 5 years old in 1988 and George Bush running for President. I wanna say I was 5 because the facts are insistent on being set in 1988, which would make my younger brother only a year old and thus a non-issue. So I’m gonna just go with that.
Anyway, so here I am, a precocious little bastard at 5, all ready to show off the collective efforts of both kindergarten and my compulsive TV watching.
“Dad, what’s happening on TV?” I wailed, pointing at another idol of my childhood, Tom Brokaw. I kid you not.
“Well son, tit’s the news. They’re talking about who will be President.”
“Oh. Who’se winning?”
“Son, everyone wins in elections.” Try not to gag at this please, I was young, and the promise of brighter futures ahead was necessary to keep me from growing up into the kind of kid who kills his parents while they sleep. My folks were canny beyond what their exteriors betrayed, and even to this day remind me that if I ever try to pull a Menendez, they’re ready with poison-coated screwdrivers beneath their pillows and light sleeping habits.
So the campaigns rolled on, with Bush somehow overthrowing the blanket of shame and crimes committed that Iran-Contra threw over his stooped and guilty shoulders, while Massachusetts governor and Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis did his best to represent a party that couldn’t even pull together convictions against men who practically threw damning evidence against them at their accusers’ feet. I, still being 5 and with a new baby brother in the house, got a bit distracted from the whole ordeal because well, things like cartoons and cookies and complaining about a fat farting baby brother were far more important to me at the time. Also, I was five. What the fuck did I know about terrorists and arms-for-hostages or how much of a scum-sucking disease-mongering whoreson Ronnie was?
I haven’t really changed that much over time. I just know more words these days which I can use to insult Ronald Reagan.
So as the candidates clashed like mighty Titans of olde on the TV screen and in the public polls, and zero hour began to creep closer, I found myself with my parents at my grandparents’ house one night. I was playing in the living room, watching TV (the news, again) and suddenly, numbers flashed before my eyes. They were mighty numbers, foretelling a surefire downfall of the vain challenger against he who was being portrayed as a righteous champion of the status quo.
“No new taxes.”
Ever notice how his wife looks like his mother? Even back then. Seriously. On the other hand, Laura Bush? I’d hit that. With the power of a thousand exploding suns, without a doubt. Don’t lie, you know you would too.
Anyway, back to a demented childhood. So as I was saying, the numbers flashed before my eyes, and a la The Manchurian Candidate, I rose, obedient, and marched into the dining room to face off with my parents and grandparents.
“Mom, Dad, the TV says we have to vote for George Bush!”
“That’s nice dear. Why?”
“Well, the news says he’s ahead by like FIFTY POINTS!” I emphasized, flexing those political science muscles of mine that I’d picked up between Tom Brokaw, National Geographic For Kids, and He-Man. “We have to vote for him! He’s the winner, right?”
Silence from the adults.
“So, we have to vote for him because the news say he’s the winner.”
Oh yes. I was actually, really and truly, controlled the TV. And not even in the sense of it guiding me to demand, screaming and kicking, for some new and flashy toy I’d instantly seen in a flash of explosions and vaguely generic-looking and excitable child actors. Rather, it was in a flurry of numbers and statistics. I, at 5 years old, was convinced to vote Republican.
I mean, it’s not that big of a deal. But for some reason, that I came to such a logical conclusion when 5 years old, the age some kids are STILL shitting their pants, that can’t be average. Not like I’m bragging, because every time my mother mentions to anyone how I was speaking at an early age, my dad’s brother or my grandmother will inevitably mention how I was cracked in the fucking head as a kid and talked to myself in the mirror because none of them wanted to listen to me any more.
Comforting, I know.