Cuppla weeks ago I find myself staring at a 7:30 breakfast meeting appointment, one of those wrist-slitting affairs calling for wrapping up in useless articles of clothing like socks, underwear, necktie, jacket, etc. You know, the ornaments white people make the lower classes wear.
So I’m up at O-Dark Hundred, push a cat off my face (the 17 pounder), get the day moving at a slow, painful crawl. Had I an unbaked brain I would have picked out an outfit the night before, but then, if I own a working brain why am I roped into this meeting? Ponder, grumble, cut myself shaving.
Inevitably late. I can’t dress myself: I don’t see colors well, and have
limited zero sense of style or taste. Yawning Guido lends a hand. Tie trailing, jacket folded, ready to run out the door when the heavens open to celebrate the Genesis of Florida’s Rainy Season. Three seconds from front door to car and I’d be drenched.
Grab an umbrella, splash my way out and only get bone-soaked below the knee. The maneuver into the car, closing the umbrella, then pulling it in is a trick I never mastered, so I’m wet as an otter, not nearly as cute. The car windows steam up like a Salvation Army soup kitchen, and when I slip the ancient Toyota into first gear, the porous headliner cuts loose with fetid liquid like a twin cunted cow pissing on a flat rock.
The 20 year old defroster and heater screaming and blowing, rusted wipers bouncing across the windshield, I head east into the storm, over the Sheridan Street bridge onto southbound AIA. If I’m lucky, they won’t mistake me at the tony Diplomat for a water rat that crawled out of the intracoastal.
Park in the lot — late! late! late! — and secure my tie using the expansive rear window of the SUV beside me. Looks like shit. Wet, soaking shit. Lopsided, too. Pull on my out of season double breasted blue blazer, which, under quite different circumstances, draws compliments (e.g., “You gotta give that back to the undertaker for the funeral tomorrow?” Yeah, fuckweed, along with the dentures.). I am so late. Only reason I keep going is now I gotta pay for parking anyway.
Down 4 levels, across the bridge over AIA, through the front door of the Dip. Third world valets and doormen look better than I do, damn their eyes and crisp white shirts. Sense enough to stay outta the rain. Round the columns, down the endless corridor, panting up the 2-story escalator. Stone faced people eye me up and look away. Beautiful women stifle snickers. Well, some do, anyway.
Registration table. There’s only a dozen nametags left (everybody else and their perfumed mother is already inside, on their second cup of coffee. I recognize some people: we exchange g’mornings you made its. Stop to speak to a member of my board.
The combination of an impending election and this important meeting means the hallways are crawling with candidates, handing out pins, stickers, campaign literature; slapping backs and braying their names. My hand shakes like a Parkinson’s patient. One particular guy, the last one standing between me and the buffet eggs, gives me a wide smile, tells me his name, then says, “Do me and everybody else a favor — fix that collar, it looks uncomfortable.”
I don’t feel a damn thing, having disassociated myself from all bodily sensations following the first good soaking. “Where?” I ask, then, “Here! You do it, okay?”
Without hesitating, he reaches forward, grabs the collar of my jacket which is all twisted inside, and pulls it straight. Brushes the lapels approvingly. “Thanks,” we say together, and I walk in, shoulders square, a focused beeline to the coffee urn like I own the damn thing.
And that’s why I’m voting for Arthur E. Palamara, M.D., for State Representative of District 99. The only human being, a complete stranger at that, with enough milk of human kindness in his veins to concern himself with another man’s appearance at a moment when it might be important. Nobody else who saw me — strangers, employees, registration volunteers, acquaintances, even my own board member — cared enough to say a thing. But Arthur E. Palamara did.
So even if he’s a father raping axe murderer who likes getting up early, he’s got my vote. Thanks again, Doc.