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Tuesday, 14 February
When A Body Meet A Body

Friday I was walking up Capitol Hill after work to meet the wife and a friend for a Friday afternoon ritual: anaesthetizing ourselves with drink to stave off the horrors of another workweek, and to perhaps even burn out the unlucky neurons responsible for remembering the preceding five horrid days. As you can imagine, I was eager to get to the bar and commence lushing it up.

However, as I came to a corner--narrowly missing a crosslight--I realized that I'd been buttonholed. A man, a tall young black man, was holding . . . pamphlets. Of some sort. My testicles throbbed and contracted painfully as I realized that he was going to talk to me.

There is little I find less pleasing than to be talked to on the street by strangers. I'm basically a game-face, head-down kind of walker, and do my level best to give off violent, roiling waves of purest GO THE FUCK AWAY. This of course stops nobody, since the people who are going to accost strangers on the street are 1. paid not to give a fuck, or 2. at some sort of life's nadir where they couldn't possibly care less, or 3. crazier than a sack of trapped marmots.

The young man approached me with a winning smile, and said, "So! We gonna get Bush and Cheney out of office or what?" He was very nice, which of course triggered my politeness gene. "YUP!" I yelped, my voice cracking with the strain. I eyed the red crosswalk light and steadily lost hope. "Great!" he beamed. He held something out to me, and I looked down.

He was holding a Lyndon LaRouche pamphlet. This in itself was sad enough. Lyndon LaRouche? Really? Fuck, why not Eugene V. Debs? This was getting worse and worse. The pamphlet itself was totally depressing; once in time it had been a proud, glossy thing, almost professional-looking, but now it just looked shabby and battered, almost like . . . it had been handled for months or years by some sorry bastard who every day tried to get someone, anyone to take it. It looked like one of those awful office White Elephant Christmas gifts that has lived entire lifetimes in people's attics. It was pure, distilled hopelessness in pamphlet form. Somewhere, distantly, I could hear poor Thomas Paine taking it up the ass from cackling pit demons.

"NO THANKS!" I quavered in my new adolescent voice. I shot a hunted glance at the oncoming traffic to see if there was anything that I was reasonably sure would kill me if I hurled myself under its wheels, but I saw only a disheartening line of hatchbacks. Life is not an option, I told myself. I was certain this guy would clamber into the ambulance and dispense LaRouchian wisdom to me all the way to the hospital while I lay there like the gormless cripple I would surely be.

"C'mon! What are you gonna do, then?" he asked. Sunlight glinted off his glasses; he was charm personified. I crawled further into my jacket, attempting to fold myself into some undiscovered dimension. "Vote for the other guy," I muttered lamely.

He was genuinely aggrieved with this nonsense. "But elections are only every four years!" he literally wailed to the skies. Can't argue with that, I thought dismally. I tried to shrink even farther into the lonely carapace of my coat. I realized that on some level I was totally failing to live up to my end of this unwanted conversational bargain that had been foisted upon me, and I actually felt kind of awful about it. But what on earth could I say? "They aren't on Earth Prime! You see, I come from an alternate universe." Well, that wouldn't work. So did he.

In the end, I took the coward's path, because of course, the light changed. "No thanks, no thanks," I squealed, moving again into my upper register as delight warred with weird, unreasonable guilt in my head. I escaped! And yet I treated a crazy person shabbily. Good Lord.

When I was halfway across the street, I couldn't resist stealing a look back. And he was still looking at me, a little sadly. He was still holding that terrible pamphlet in his hand, arm down in limp--yet familiar-defeat. He hadn't closed the deal, and another deluded soul had been allowed escape.

Then he turned around and approached a couple walking by. "Hey, how are you today? So are we gonna take Bush down or not?" His smile was brilliant in the February sun, so much more brilliant than the dog-eared, much-fingered unshiny pamphlet he held out to them, which, of course, they did not take as they wordlessly skirted their way around him.

POSTSCRIPT: I thank my readers for taking the time to wade through this humble offering. I realize that there are other things going on in the world, such as little tidbits such as the Vice President discharging a shotgun into the face of his hunting companion. Clearly, there are other, larger matters to attend to, so I appreciate your staying with me. And I would like to extend my best wishes to Mr. Cheney, our first Vice President to be constructed by 19th-century vivisectionists out of the nailed-together gall bladders of asylum inmates, and also to that guy he shot.

Note: Comments are closed on old entries.


What, are you kidding me? This post warrants no apology. I come here to escape from dumb stories about gall bladder guy!

You rock, as usual.

Comment number: 005937   Posted by: Jason on February 14, 2006 10:03 AM from IP:

Mitch Hedberg's (RIP) wisdom allows for a simple solution when approached by a pamphlet peddler's provocation. Simply react as if their root message is... "Here, you throw this away".

Comment number: 005938   Posted by: Kep on February 14, 2006 11:36 AM from IP:

One of my favorite responses to Larouchie cultists is "What? He's out of jail again?"

Comment number: 005943   Posted by: Paulo on February 16, 2006 02:34 PM from IP:

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