The Ridiculousness of It All

“You’re a lousy American,” I told our daughter. “What kind of citizen are you, anyway?”

She had been assigned, as homework, a questionnaire which required her to view the State of the Union Address. Not much fun, she thought.

So I told her everyone, every year, loved the speech and looked forward to it almost as a participatory event. If you like something the president says, I told her, you stand up and applaud. If you disagree with the president, I said, you simply remain seated.

“It’s sort of an at-home political Rocky Horror Picture Show,” I explained.

The first time the president said something applause-worthy, I stood up and, with all the Democrats on screen, clapped.

She sat in some disbelief on the floor.

“The idea,” I said, “is that we all do this at home, whichever party you belong to.”

When the Democrats next stood, I stood with them.

The kid didn’t move a muscle–except to casually cock an eyebrow in my direction.

“You’re a lousy American,” I told her.

She came back with, “You’re a birther.”

I was floored by this.

“Dude,” she said, glancing over her glasses, “you know I wasn’t even born here. I was born in Mexico.”

I pretended, briefly, to reflect, saying, “The least you can do is stand on one leg.”

“Duh,” she scoffed.

“What kind of citizen are you, anyway?”

“Dude,” she said. “Really. ‘The least you can do is stand on one leg?’ I mean, OF COURSE if you didn’t at least stand on one leg then you wouldn’t be standing at all. You’d just be sitting there. Like me.’’

“Obstructionist,” I said. “I can see you’d make a perfect Republican.”

Again, she arched an eyebrow at me. “Dude, you don’t have a leg to stand on.”

“But I am standing. I’m participating.”

“I wish I could vote.”

“Who would you vote for?”

“Bernie Sanders.”

“Not Hillary?”

“No way. Bernie’s the only one for free college.”

“Shouldn’t that make him my guy?”

Even though she now has a job, employed for the first time, she thought about my role as the family ATM. I am, notoriously, a soft touch.

“I’m voting your pocketbook,” she said.

“You mean your algebra grade is.”


“It’s Dad,” I interrupted her. “Not Dude. And that grade has to come up before you can even think about college. You can do it…Dudette.”

There were a few moments of silence while, still cross-legged on the floor, she contemplated passing algebra.

“Who’s that guy behind Obama?” she asked.

“Joe Biden?”

“No–the guy on the right.”

“That’s Yon Yonson. He comes from Wisconsin.”

“Not that again!”

“He’s Paul Ryan,” I said. “He’s the Speaker of the House.”

“What happened to the orange guy?”

“John Boehner?”

“I guess…”

“He quit.”


“Because he couldn’t do the job.”

“I guess that makes sense.”

“What kind of Republican are you, anyway?”

“I’m not any kind of Republican.”

“Then how does Boehner’s quitting make any sense?”

“It’s exactly how I feel about algebra.”

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