Columns » Bob Lancaster

Is it doomsday yet?


You have the advantage of me. You already know if this dunderhead regime will be oppressing us for four more years, and I’m still in the dark. I’m still back in last week, when there was hope and Daylight Savings, back on All Saints’ Eve’s Eve, to which our trick-or-treat masquerade has been confined this year lest the righteous be scandalized by some painted urchin mooching a Zag-Nut of a Sunday. I’m still forsaking the secretary every half minute or so, leaving anxious quill beside eager inkwell, to answer the door, thereupon to deposit “funsize” Milky Ways and Tootsie Rolls in the plastic pumpkins and tow sacks of hobgoblins who all seem disappointed that I’m not handing out DVDs or $100 bills. “There you go, Shrek! Enjoy!” “You mean that’s IT?” If you expected weed-rat stew, ingrate little horned ogre, you might’ve phoned ahead. No, no, you can’t direct sarcasms at grade-schoolers. Earlier there was a child who, having been shamed into neurosis by the Huckabite body-fat-ratio propaganda, would only accept fat-free. I rummaged through kitchen and Homeland Security bunker but could only scrounge an individually wrapped Hostess Creme-Filled Cupcake, which gave her to suspect me of mockery. Was I a tempter demon or just a hateful old bastard? Why hadn’t I laid in trail mix? Up-to-dateness has been represented by Shark’s Tale sharks and some Puss’n’Bootses, but this has mainly been a Halloween for the latter-day classics. Witches and skeletons. Vampires. Oldies but baddies. More Darth Vaders than anything else. Your guess is as good as mine why. But the scariest of these children of the night were without costume. They were young people — teen-agers, and some older chaperone types who looked ghoulishly (and unintentionally) like Digger O’Dells or Democrat-Gazette lifestyle columnists — taking advantage of custom to do a little last-minute door-to-door on behalf of President George W. Bush. Came by a little while ago, and I thought they were going to set up camp. I don’t think I could’ve run them off short of shaking the mop out of the slopjar at them. They declined treats, and said instead I could do them this night the great favor of helping them save the world. It was in dire jeopardy, they averred. If because of neglect or indifference, I failed to vote for George Bush, and this Lucifer J. Kerry creature thereby managed to slither into office, well, then, it would be the end of the world. And it would be my fault. Damnation, I exclaimed. Why did they have to lay it off on ME? Well, that’s what the preacher told them. Where did HE get it from? The B-i-b-l-e, of course. WHERE in the Bible? In the part about how God just hates it when men are lying down with men and women with women. The women with women part isn’t as bad as the men with men, for some reason, but either way God will wipe us out and burn up the planet if we don’t cut it out. And vote for Bush. Well, I wasn’t accepting any of the responsibility for what happened, much less all of it. Oh, but this wasn’t my call. Sure it was. If God no longer made little green apples, or made it rain in Indianapolis in the summertime, I personally would deny permission to the inchoate future to look back and say, It’s all the hateful old bastard with the Hostess cupcake’s fault, because he wouldn’t vote for Bush. OK, they did finally succeed in dumping a pretty heavy load of guilt and shame on me for the loss of all the little babies, puppy dogs, and pretty sunsets. But I had to tell them it would take more than that to get me to X my franchise for the Bushman. It would take that, and Hell freezing over, and some mighty persuasive blackmail. Besides, I wasn’t really the solitary villain here. These junior Bushists had been all over town portioning out the doomsday responsibility. Shoveling it onto sad-eyed old domino players at the pool hall, and dour codger tale-swappers at the coffee shop, and bedfast asparaghi at the nursing home. Old-timers who already knew too much about the end of the world. They’d munch their gums and avoid eye contact with these whippersnapper accusers. Lines of sight that never intersected: that’s what this entire episode was really about. That’s what this election was about. That’s what this column is about, too. I had bona fide spooks and goblins to serve, so I had to shoo these phony ones and get to it, but that was a small window on Halloween ’04 and the General Election campaign ’04 in a small corner of the Natural State. Turned off the porch light at 9 p.m. and returned to the surf, which had just posted this item: The National Parks Service, bowing to pressure from the Bush Administration, would no longer claim that natural forces caused the Grand Canyon; hereafter, Noah’s Flood would get all the credit. So, you know by now and I don’t. Are we in for four more years of this s___, or not?

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