Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hooligan Circus Political Technique

When Tommy Fitzgerald offered to buy me a drink for the 21st birthday I had several months ago, I did not know what to think. “Your 21st birthday should last all year, am I right?” he said with an enthusiasm bordering on spooky self-regard. Some friends had warned me that Tommy was a fat, two-faced liar. From what I had heard, he was a schemer of schemes and not to be trusted. But in my admittedly limited interactions with Tommy, I had found him fairly forthright and even amusing to be around. As he explained to me how to rent a car before turning 25, I thought I would let him buy me a drink after I finished my second beer of the evening. How often do you get to hang out in a cool Ethiopian restaurant-bar with a group of friends you see none too frequently?

Sipping my Whiskey Sour as the somewhat slapdash and informal program started, I thought to ask Tommy about whether he would be voting for Maggie in a couple of weeks as I planned to do. I actually can’t remember if I thought about this before the emcees brought up the Roy vs. Maggie race. I do remember thinking about how the closest behavior to the deceptive bastard I had been told existed that I had experienced firsthand came in the minutes after both Tommy and I had lost the elector election coming in seventh and eighth place out of a field of six. Tommy told me he would call me the next day to talk about how to get myself appointed to the elector position (don’t the losers always get appointed?). But he did not. Of course, now we were both appointed electors and as far as I know he could have very well been involved in making sure that happened.

When I finally leaned over to him to whisper incautiously my question about Maggie, he turned to me with that grin of his and snapped, “What’s my last name?” At first I thought he was teasing me and I responded louder than I should have: “Fitzgerald!” And then, after a pause, “Oh,” I thought and said at the same time. Roy Fitzgerald. Maggie Pierce versus Roy Fitzgerald. “I’m his son, Tommy Fitzgerald,” he explained to my imbalanced embarrassment. I started to apologize without saying sorry and he stopped me by saying, “I love Maggie, she’s great.” I had seen them hug jovially just moments earlier but I continued nonetheless and he stopped me again by laughing without seeming to smile. “Tommy Fitzgerald is Roy’s son but I’m not that Tommy Fitzgerald. We have the same name though, it’s pretty funny.”

I found out that Tommy’s father, Jim Fitzgerald, is the fire commissioner for the city. Apparently he was not Roy Fitzgerald and that same evening I found out I was not allowed to vote for Maggie and against Roy until I was “released” to do so. I stumbled outside in a muddled temper. In the orange and gloomy dusk I felt I could have signed my life away to the IRS or some other heartless agency, and I probably did. I needed to get my ID card back, as I had left it up one town to the north. Mostly, I experienced a matchless remorse for the modestly nightmarish scheming world I could never really understand. It had been too long since I arrived, and it was not nearly long enough until I will depart.

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