Columns » Bob Lancaster

In a nutshell

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Day Late and Dollar Short waved me into the House of Dominoes when I walked by there the other morning.

They had some up-to-the-minute presidential-campaign news.

First, Day Late informed me with some consternation that he'd learned that one of the candidates is a woman.

“You don't say,” I said.

“I do, too,” he said. “And you know what it means.”

“I know what it usually means when you ask me if I know what something means. It means, woe is us, the end times are here.”

“That's right,” he said. “That's it in a nutshell.”

“So have you clumb up on her bandwagon yet?”

“No, sir,” he said. “I wouldn't do that, as you know full well. Every president we've had so far has been a man. Why can't these heifers leave well enough alone?”

“Maybe they don't think ‘well enough' is good enough,” I ventured.

“Well, they'd have a point there,” he said. “A woman would beat this gang that's running it now, but then so would a cur dog. I'm just afraid when a woman takes over, we're all going to be like Otis the Drunk when Aunt Bee gets aholt of him.”

“Sounds to me like somebody's been cut off again,” I proffered.

Day Late admitted as much with bemusement and dismay. “I still don't see what was so all-fired bad about a socket wrench set for Valentine's,” he said.

“So it's not just this one particular woman you're opposing,” I thought I understood. “It's any of them.”

“More or less,” he said. “And if you want to argue it, I've got at least nine Bible verses that back me up. The woman's supposed to be the helpmeet, and not try to wear the pants in the family, much less the pants of the whole country.”

Day Late's twin brother Dollar Short shouldered into the conversation at this point, saying: “The USA has pants?”

“Uncle Sam does, and he represents the USA,” Day Late said. “Nobody ever heard of Aunt Sam, have they?”

I wondered aloud if Aunt Sam's national symbolical garment would be a striped apron rather than the striped pants.

Dollar Short said, “I'd think it'd be what we used to call a merry widder.”

Dollar Short was the bearer of the other bit of campaign news. “Another one of your top-tier Democrat candidates this time is black,” he said. “I seen it on TV. They didn't mention background, but the camera don't lie.”

“So,” I asked Day Late, “does the Bible rule out black men for president, too?”

“They say it's a verse against whatever you need for there to be one against,” he said. “I'll have Bro. Floyd look it up.”

His personal opinion was that a black man couldn't win election and so shouldn't punish his party by pushing ahead of candidates who could. “His only chance would be head-to-head against ol' Huckleberry, who wore out his welcome here worse than anybody ever has. I've had people tell me they went 30 year not seeing him without he had his hand out.”

I don't think Day Late is a misogynist or a racist, though, as much as he is a nostalgist. In this same conversation, answering more ribbing from me and Dollar Short, he said: “You jokers go on and laugh, but it was better when everybody had their place and kept their place. You didn't have to worry about fitting in. You accepted your lot and done what you were supposed to. So you could live and die a lot better satisfied. Life didn't waylay you every time you turned around like it does now. That was your orderly creation that us conservatives pine for. It lasted from the Garden of Eden to about 1968.”

That was when the lower orders started getting uppity, I assumed.

Somewhere around then, he confirmed.

In this chaotic new order, everybody aimed for top mug on the totem. Even if they had a Precious instead of a Willard, or a Solomonic hue, or Cream of Wheat for brains like Current Occupant at Casa Blanca.

Day Late blames our latter-day descent on what he calls theory convergence. Evolution and then relativity. The first saying all things change, even our dearly beloved forms, from monkey to Rotarian to Lord knows what comes next, with us stranded here in the middle looking for something steady to hold on to. The other saying one point of view is just as good as another, with nothing to separate right from wrong or wise from dumb except the power to get more votes or command better artillery.

Evolution turned Adam into J. Fred Muggs and relativity turned the Decalogue into suggestions.

“What happened was,” Day Late said, “we got to wanting to run our own lives instead of letting the Man Upstairs run them according to his plan, in which we all have our place and keep our place and everything works out like it's supposed to.”

“That's some deep thinking for what sounds to me like your basic horse hockey,” his brother said.

Day and Dollar had considerable more to say on these and other topics, which I would've endured and dutifully passed on, but as luck would have it they both got a timely nature call along about then, and I took the opportunity to move my caravan on.

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