In the six months following the end of my formal education (no, it wasn’t sixth grade; it was seventh), I challenged myself to read everything Ernest Hemingway ever wrote. Yes, I was an English major, hence the prolonged lack of employment.
Some years later, I was flipping channels when the title “The Hemingway Play” flashed across the screen. It was a televised play with just four characters, each one Hemingway from the various stages of his life, from the World War I ambulance driver to “Papa,” the old man who would soon take his own life.
Not a Tony-winner by any means, but interesting in the way the different versions of the same man played off against each other.
Now I’m told by them what knows that I tend to engage in a less than stage-worthy inner dialogue called cognitive self-talk. No, I don’t hear voices in me head — well, except the one saying “turn the channel, idiot!” when there’s a skin flick on cable and The Mrs. is walking up the hall. But I do tend to discuss things with meself.
Which brings me to this year’s presidential election. In recent days I held many such discussions. It may not be “The Hemingway Play,” but here’s a sample:
Please tell me you’re not voting for Obama.
—Actually, I haven’t made up my mind yet.
What a crock. There ain’t nobody in these United States who’s still undecided, no matter what they say.
—I like to think that I’m keeping an open mind.
Since when? That hardly sounds like you.
—Well, OK, I know the guy made a ton of promises he didn’t keep …
And added $5 trillion to the national debt. Five freakin’ trillion!
—And you believe that with a nod of his carefully coiffed head Romney will make everything right? You shouldn’t be drinking so early in the day.
I haven’t been, wiseguy, nor have I gulped down the “Obama is God” Kool-Aid.
—His political allure is in the stuff he represents — you know, change, moving forward and the like. Wasn’t that Ronald Reagan’s MO? Romney just comes across as too damn slick and I fear the far right has his ear and many of those guys scare the hell out of me.
And the far left doesn’t? Don’t you worry about the skullduggery those guys are capable of?
—Ooooh, “skullduggery.” Fancy word. You were an English major, right? Minoring in chronic unemployment.
Look who’s talkin’. By the way, you realize this has all the makings of a repeat of the Clinton era, right?
—Obama’s got a girlfriend? Wow! Is there no end to his talents and energy?
Be serious. Think of it, in 1992 George Bush the Elder gets beaten by a guy who came out of nowhere …
Exactly. Clinton emerges and runs with great success, speaking his magic mantra “change” as often as the Yankees beat the Mets.
—You wanna go there, Mr. “My team spends 10 zillion dollars on payroll but still watched the World Series from a bar?”
Anyway, the first two years of Clinton’s presidency are a political nightmare and the GOP cooks up the “contract with America” BS and they kick the Dems’ butts in ’94, but the anti-Clinton fervor dies down and with the GOP putting up an old codger to challenge him, Clinton skates to a second term.
—Yawn. Are you still talking?
Anyway, Bush the Younger gets elected and after his two terms are up the Dems put up a guy from out of nowhere, who speaks his magic mantra “change” as often as the …
—Don’t say it.
Anyway, HIS first two years are a political nightmare and the tea party-ites kick the Dems’ butts in 2010, but then the GOP puts up a guy who can’t keep his foot out of his mouth.
—You’re making me depressed. Think I’ll go play Powerball and when I win buy an island, declare myself “Philosopher King” surrounded by handmaidens who …
Been watching those movies again, haven’t you? The Mrs. catch you yet?
—I’ll have La-Z-Boy throne and when not commanding the remote control clap and call, “Bathe her and bring her to my tent!”
You are one seriously deranged, pathetic old goat.
—Hey, we finally agree on something.
Tim Kelly is the editor of The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at [email protected] or 631-298-3200, ext. 238.