Friday, August 10, 2012

“Hamglaze – The Erie Connection”

c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It had been a busy weekend in the Icehouse. Yard work and home improvement projects left little time for creative writing. Then, I had to visit Chardon for more supplies. The evening was close at hand when I passed Get Go on Center Street.

In their parking lot, a red minivan sat with its side door open. Pages of newsprint covered the hood. And roast beef sandwiches were piled on the passenger seat.

My friend Carrie Hamglaze seemed to be having an impromptu campaign rally. She was speaking to a middle-aged couple who intently received every word of political advice. Quietly, I wondered if was she running for office again.

At the stoplight, I turned right, in front of CVS. Then swung left, into the Pittsburgh fuel oasis. It was jammed with customers, so I took a distant space by the Wet Go car wash.

As I approached my friend, her voice echoed, powerfully.

“See here,” she said. “I write for the local paper. Chardon News is my column. I’ve been a teacher, tennis coach, and local public servant. So you can rest assured that I speak with authority when saying that the November election will be perhaps the most important call to duty ever issued in the history of our nation…”

“Hi Carrie,” I interjected. “How have you been?”

She spun around with surprise, still holding an empty Kaiser roll. “Rod Ice! My fellow writer from the Leaf! Would you like a sandwich?”

“No, thank you,” I laughed. “Just wanted to say hello because we haven’t crossed paths all summer. Have you been away?”

She gestured with a Bob Frantz bumper sticker from WTAM. “If you aren’t hungry, then perhaps something for your car would be a suitable gift?”

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t use those. I abhor the visual clutter. But thanks.”

Carrie peeled back the top of an aluminum foil pan. “Okay, then it has to be a sandwich. I was just at a buffet dinner. This is good roast beef, I assure you!”

My face went red. “Actually, I was hoping you’d introduce me to your friends.”

The gray-bearded fellow standing before us laughed out loud. “We are from Erie. Just stopped to get gasoline and saw the Romney poster in Carrie’s window. My name is Stan Stefanek, and this is my wife, Dreama. We are in the Northwestern Pennsylvania Tea Party Association.”

I bowed my head with embarrassment. “Oh, I thought you were subscribers to the Geauga County Maple Leaf. Carrie knows everyone around here…”

Dreama smiled patiently with the realism of a new-age grandmother. “We happened to strike up a conversation about the upcoming election, and realized that the three of us are in agreement about a lot of things!”

“The president is a skilled campaigner,” I observed. “He won’t be defeated easily. Even with the struggling economy.”

Stan rubbed his eyes. “Everyone needs to get five friends to the ballot box. That would make the difference.”

“Indeed!” Carrie cheered. She reached inside her minivan for a copy of the Romney poster. “Here you go, Rod. Put this in your window right now!”

I shook my head. “No thanks. You know who we support in the Ice household…”

My friend reacted with a grin. “Yes. Ron Paul is your guy.”

Stan Stefanek shuddered, visibly. “You are wasting your vote. ‘Anybody but Obama’ is my motto this year.”

“Really?” I mused. “Well, I won’t consider my vote wasted. The two-party system is corrupt and broken. Money rules the day. Not people power. Mr. Obama was originally elected out of the growing citizen unrest that has taken hold across America. Your movement reflects that restlessness, as does the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ phenomenon. To cast a ballot for the same paradigm that brought us to this moment in history reflects Einstein’s classic definition of insanity.”

Dreama put a hand over her mouth. “Oh my!”

“Every good citizen needs to vote for Mitt!” Stan declared.

“Well said!” Carrie agreed.

My face reddened once more. “Actually, as a journalist, I find your position to be undeniably fascinating. The Tea Party movement is certainly not inclined to support progressive social policies. So how can you vote for a fellow who authored the Massachusetts template for Obamacare?”

Dreama gasped loudly.

“He will repeal Obama’s healthcare reform,” Stan barked. “On his first day in office.”

“Furthermore, Romney’s legacy as governor was to take many of the same positions as Ted Kennedy,” I reflected. “He came off as an eastern version of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Fiscally disciplined, but socially permissive. Doesn’t that clash with your philosophical outlook? And hasn’t his march to the nomination brought into question the actual political power of the Tea Party, itself?”

Silence spread across the parking lot.

Finally, Carrie opened her mouth. “Anybody but Obama!”

Stan and Dreama joined in the refrain. “Anybody, anybody, anybody but Obama!”

My face was crimson like a Campbell’s tomato soup can. “I must confess that Marco Rubio sounds interesting. He would be a colorful choice as a running mate. Very Libertarian in outlook…”

Stan shuddered again. “I think Mitt should pick Rick Santorum.”

“A man from my home state of Pennsylvania!” Carrie squealed.

“No, Mitt should pick you, Mrs. Hamglaze!” I said.

Everyone agreed, with enthusiasm.

“Regardless of any of this,” I concluded, “Hillary Clinton will be elected in 2016. Love her or hate her, she isn’t going to give up until the White House is hers. Again.”

Shock and alarm filled the air.

Then, Carrie began to laugh. “Oh, I get it! A joke! Very funny, Rodney!”

Dreama chortled along. “Oh my! Oh my!”

Stan looked at his watch. “Well, it’s a long drive back to Erie. We must be going. So nice to meet you all!”

“We’ll be in touch!” Carrie promised. “Safe travel to you!”

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