Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.
It was gratifying that after Wisconsin voted him into the presidency, the gentleman did not talk about putting Hillary Clinton in prison. That was a nice surprise. And when he met with Obama of Kenya, the white sahib was well-behaved, listened to what the African had to say, did not interrupt or call him stupid, and in fact thanked the alien for meeting with him. He did a good impersonation of modesty.
Say what you will, the man is flexible. The wall on the border, his reliable applause line this past year, has been downgraded to a fence in some places and may eventually turn into a line of orange highway cones. The 11 million deportees are down to 2 or 3 million. Clinton may be let off with an ankle bracelet.
While he’s making alterations, he should consider getting a presidential hairdo rather than the hair of a hotel lounge pianist in 1959. It’s distracting to watch a man talk about national security looking like he might suddenly burst into “Volare.” A makeover would take about 15 minutes max. And might a speech therapist try to smooth out the Tony Soprano accent and give him a presidential voice like Nixon’s or Reagan’s and cut out those irritating repetitions for emphasis — do you know what I mean? Am I right? Am I right? You know I’m right. You better believe I’m right.
He will never be my president because he doesn’t read books, can’t write more than a sentence or two at a time, has no strong loyalties beyond himself, is more insular than any New Yorker I ever knew, and because I don’t see anything admirable or honorable about him. This sets him apart from other politicians. The disaffected white, blue-collar workers elected a Fifth Avenue tycoon to rescue them from the elitists — fine, I get that — but they could’ve chosen a better tycoon. One who served in the military or attends church or reads history, loves opera, sails a boat — something — anything — raises llamas, plays the oboe, runs a 5K race now and then, has close friends from childhood. I look at him and there’s nothing there.
But politics is not everything. Life goes on. A person has to keep that in mind. The day after the election, my wife and I set out to replace some burned-out light bulbs in some interesting fixtures chosen by an elderly interior decorator years ago. We are from Minnesota and we hesitate to impose our taste on others, even when we’re paying the bill. So we have several truly ugly and impractical light fixtures that use odd rare bulbs not sold at Walmart, Walgreens, Ace Hardware or even at boutiques with names like Let There Be Light Bulbs. Long, cylindrical bulbs. Perhaps handmade by Cistercian monks on a mountaintop in Montana.
I voted for Clinton, so I’m an elitist, but still. We use regular old G.E. light bulbs.
My wife is a violinist, so she has excellent fine motor skills, plus a better sense of logic and smaller hands, so she’s the foreman, and my job is to stand by the stepladder, hold her by the hips, hand her the Allen wrench — yes, these fixtures, unique in the Western hemisphere, require hexagonal wrenches — receive loose screws and the burned-out bulb, hand her the fresh bulb while bracing the loose fixture and not letting it fall, and maintaining an upbeat attitude.
It’s interesting to hold a kind, gentle Episcopalian lady by the hips and hear how well she can swear while trying to replace a light bulb in a fixture that — how many liberals does it take? Three. One to turn the bulb, one to hold the ladder and one to make sure the manufacturer offers good health care and pension plans to its employees.
This is what pulls a couple together. Every marriage has its bumps, but when she stands on a stepladder and I brace my shoulder against her rear end to leave my hands free to hold the big glass shade as she screws the bulb into the socket and takes the Allen wrench from me and the screws and drops one and I bend down, my hand still on her haunch, and reach for the fallen screw, and we both start laughing, this is a sweet moment that momentarily transcends politics.
I hope that Donald Trump does not make Wisconsin regret having elected him president, but it’s still the same old story about love and glory and a case of do or die and lovers must replace their light bulbs as time goes by.