Out late last night with Guido at the Liquor and Rubber Balls Sports Emporium and Marital Aids While You Wait for a quick pick-me-up after a long day of last-minute errands. The place is half-full (if you’re an optimist; half-empty if you’re not) and the clientele half-lit (if you’re an optimist, etc.). Don Tequila presides from behind the bar.
“Don’t you ever go home, Don?” asks Guido.
“This is home ,” grunts Don, filling two mugs with Grolsch drafts. “Who needs to pay for peace and quiet when I can live in an asylum and be entertained 24/7?”
He has a point. I see Cosmo tipsily holding court at a table for 6 at which there appear to be 10 people stuck together, and there’s Tat and her scary bunch clustered around a teevee set, cursing at some basketball game. In fact, the only three males in this lesbian sports bar tonight are me, Don, and Duck Diamonds, who joins us.
“And we’re not so sure about you,” says Guido, reading my mind again. It creeps me out when she does that.
Don snaps his phone shut. A professional gambler, he’s on the phone every 10 minutes in 90 second intervals, maximum. One time, asked what he did before cell phones, he said he lived in a phone booth.
“Listen , I’ll save you some time and money,” he says. “Right after the Iowa contest next week, don’t pay any attention to the rumors that John Huntsman will drop out of the race, switch parties, and replace Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket.”
He gives me that pitying look he usually reserves for broke losers who try to sell their “guaranteed iron-lock” horse racing systems to him.
“Of course you never heard it. It hasn’t started yet. I said, right after the Iowa caucus.”
“Well then how do you know about it?” asks Guido.
Duck sighs. “Because I’m one of the guys who’s starting it,” he says. “Here’s how it works. Huntsman draws about no percent and gets pressured to drop out. Meanwhile, Biden keeps saying stupid things.”
You’re on safe ground so far.
“So we start the story going that Obama’s people, looking ahead to a contest with Mitt Romney, needs to make a move to appeal to the independent voters he lost. Biden is 4 years older, still a loose cannon, and doesn’t add anything to the ticket.
“Meanwhile, Huntsman is the only Republican in the pack who isn’t a maniac, moron, or spineless flip-flopper, which is why he hasn’t get a chance at the ballot. Obama asked him to work for him once before as China ambassador, and he accepted. He does it again, telling him it’s really the only future he’d got. Huntsman agrees.”
Actually, Duck, it makes a certain amount of sense.
“Yeah!” he laughs. “Enough so that I can make some money off people who buy it, see? That’s why we’re pushing it. It’s called ‘business’.”
“What happens if it really comes about?” asks Guido.
Duck laughs. “You and Toto really miss Kansas, dontcha, Dorothy?” he says. “Shit like this doesn’t happen in politics precisely because it makes sense. Politics isn’t about making sense, it’s about making money and accumulating power. But most people don’t accept that — they still believe in the tooth fairy, and I’m here to cash in on their gold crowns.”
His phone rings, and he turns away. I’m thinking he’s concocted a helluva way to make a living.
“I guess,” says Guido, doing that weird mind-reading thing again. “But at least he doesn’t have to spend all weekend watching idiotic football games.”
Happy New Year.