I went to the polling station before work. I’d given myself a liberal amount of time to stand in line to vote. They’d made it sound like we were going to be standing in line until the inauguration, the media and such. But I normally knew better than to believe the things they said. They told us the race was ‘too close to call’, yet everybody I spoke to said they were voting Obama. But perhaps that’s cause I live in California. I didn’t much plunge into the Deep South these days. A lot of people down there would sooner stone a black man than vote for one.
So after standing in line for almost an hour in the obscene 90-degree heat of a typical Los Angeles November, I dropped my meaningless vote into the ballot box, smiled, and left. I walked past all of the vibrant, young liberals and sighed. My vote meant nothing and my hour was gone, never to return.
Work was slow in getting started. We had a few tables in. I was just chit chatting with the sexy cocktail server, pouring a glass of beer here and there, and watching the results of the count come in on the TVs. She didn’t know anything about politics. I didn’t much either but she made me feel smart. I liked her. We stood in front of one TV. It was showing CNN. The other was showing FOX. A young Asian couple came in and sat in front of the FOX TV.
“Hey guys,” I said, sliding a menu out to each of them, “you in to watch the game?”
They laughed a little.
“Yeah, just happy to see it all end,” said the guy. I looked at them both. They looked ‘Democratty’.
“I don’t mean to presume or anything, but we’re showing CNN down there.” I said, pointing to the empty and of the bar.
They picked up their menus and shuffled down to the other end. I looked at the screen that they were sitting in front of. It was projecting pretty much the same thing. No real news yet. Just that Romney had taken Kentucky. I tried to think about what I knew about Kentucky. Horseracing and Jim Beam were the only immediate things that came to mind. And gravy, although I was almost certain that that was just something people ate there. I wondered if any of those things bore any relation to the Republican party.
“Bartender!” I heard someone shout. I turned around. There was this old man at the end of the bar. He looked like a beat-up old alcoholic. He had one of those purple alcoholic noses and a damp alcoholic jacket. You could imagine the smell of boozy pores trapped under that damp boozy coat. He sat a little too close to the Asian couple, and she was clearly starting to lean towards her man. He was fixed watching the television. “Get me some whisky. But nothing from Kentucky. Fuck Kentucky!”
He started laughing and slamming his bandaged hand off the bar top. The young couple looked down to me. I saw a pleading in their eyes. They just wanted to have a quiet drink and watch the drama on the TV unfold. They didn’t order an old sodden alcoholic man with a bandaged hand. I tried not to laugh.
“Jack Daniels okay sir?” I asked.
“Where’s that from?” he shouted.
I picked up the bottle and scanned for a place I recognized.
“Tennessee” I said.
“That a Republican state?”
“Something else then. A Democrat state whiskey.”
I thought about where bourbon and rye came from and all I could come up with were southern states. I looked to the top shelf.
“How about Laphroig?” I asked, plucking the bottle from the back bar.
“Which state is that from?”
He gave me the old thumb that looked like a burnt sausage and looked back to the screen.
“That’ll have to do then,” he muttered. “They’re Democrats over there.”
I poured him a big one, and splashed a little into my glass of coke. The old boy held up his glass to me. I raised mine and smiled. The Asian couple sat between the old boy and myself, moping amongst the cheers.