Tim Kelly: Between the Lines: Keepin’ Me Head Down ‘Til the Storm Passes

Tim Kelly
Tim Kelly

What the hell? Again, you’re sitting here, drinking alone? Please tell me you’re not as down in the mouth as you were over the summer. You know, a lot of people were really, really…

…No, I’m not. Well, yes and no. Sort of.

Ah, that’s the assertive, confident would-be presidential candidate I remember. “Yes and no. Sort of.” I can see the White House press corps sitting silently in awe and admiration for the new leader of The Free World.

Wait, is it still called “The Free World?” Ok the Soviet Union is no more, but is…

No, professor, no one’s said “The Free World” since the Berlin Wall fell, I think that’s the time. I’m not really sure.

“I’m not really sure.” Ah, can you hear the UN General Assembly erupting in thunderous applause as that phrase concludes an inspirational presidential address?

Don’t you have somewhere else to be?

Uh, the question is, don’t you? You cancelled your August presidential exploratory committee just minutes before its scheduled start. Another such session was to be held tonight, yet here you are, alone…

But I’m not alone, am I? If only.

Ok, no need for the snarky stuff. I’m simply curious why it’s just us two, is all.

You came through the front bar, right?

Um, yeah.

Was it crowded?

Now that you mention it, it was packed.

And what were they doing, making the Stations of the Cross?

Wow, there’s a blast from the past! Do people still make…?

I don’t know, nor do I care. To answer my own question, they were not. They were packed in front of the TV, right.

Well, now that you mention it…

And what night is it?

It’s Thursday, but what does… Oh, I get it. Thursday Night Football. Of course.

So, when I said, “Let’s get the meeting going” half of ‘em didn’t even turn their heads and the others looked me like I said, “Let’s say The Rosary.”

Or do The Stations of the Cross.

Whatever. Anyway, here I sit, a committee of one. And you know what? That’s fine. The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced there’s little point in discussing the 2020 race until the 2018 midterms are done.

Huh. I must admit, there’s a certain amount of logic to that. Hey, maybe you do have the right stuff for a run at the White House after all.

Thanks. Wait, waddaya mean “after all?’

Ah, perceptive too! Relax, will ya? Just havin’ some fun at your expense. Don’t tell me that’s a new experience for you.

Like I said, don’t you have a home to go to? Or an AA meeting?

Hey, that’s not funny. I hardly ever touch the…

Not that anonymous group. I mean Ass…

Yeah, yeah, you made your point. Now let me make mine. It’s your learned opinion that we hold off on all discussions presidential until after Election Day?

Now who’s Captain Perceptive?

It’s Commodore Perceptive, thank you very much! So who’s on the ballot this year?

You mean you don’t know? Really?

Um, well…

You’re busted down to Seaman, recruit Perceptive, dumbass.

That’s Commodore Dumbass to you.

Yeah, Ok, whatever. So, this November brings us the discussed, dissected and debated to death midterm elections. All 435 House of Representatives on the ballot, as are 34 Senate seats. The GOP controls both houses and Democrats hope to flip that. Pundits everywhere are waxing pedantic about how it’ll be a referendum on Trump.

And is it, I mean, are they?

I guess. Maybe. Who the hell knows? Two years ago, those same pundits pretty much guaranteed Trump was gonna sink like the Titanic and looked how that worked out.

Well, he did run against an iceberg.

Ouch, that’s cold.

Exactly!

Drop it, will ya? 2016 is ancient history and those Hillary jokes are as old as… as that suit.

What, this suit? This is a classic! I picked it out from the “Eisenhower Collection” at Sears! Chicks just dig it!

Chicks? CHICKS? You have no expectations on living long enough to collect Social Security, do you?

Why wouldn’t I? This is like Vegas, right? What happens, or said, here at “Danny Boy’s” stays at “Danny Boy’s,” right?

I suppose, but only because nothing worth reporting or repeating ever happens here.

Really? Have you forgotten the Great French Fry Wars of ’07? Epic! There’s still ketchup stains on the jackalope head above yon neon shamrock. Only it doesn’t look like ketchup now. Poor, poor Jack O’Lope.

Are you finished?

Hey, just sayin’, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

So don’t order the fries. Come to think of it, they’re no better than the pretzels.

You’re right. Hey, do you remember the Calamari Conflict over that Columbus Day weekend? Jack’s antlers were filled with fried squid rings. That’s somethin’ you don’t see every day. Talk about animal abuse!

Uh, you know that’s not a real… Never mind! What the hell were we talking about?

Midterms, I think. By the way, have you been studying? You know how important midterms are to your final…

Seriously, go watch some damn football or find some “chicks,” will ya? Why do I friggin bother?

Cause I’m your vice president, remember? I think it was vice president. Vice squad? Vice clamp? Vice versa?

Hey, Billy! Can I get some calamari?

Ok, Ok, Ok, you win! I’ll stop. Tell me, oh wise one, what’s the ballot look like?

It’s a long piece of paper with names in rows and… What? Can dish it out but can’t take it? Out here we’ve got one State Senate seat up for the grabs. But the incumbent, Ken LaValle, has been in office since 1977 and there’s even a football stadium named for him at Stony Brook, for cryin out loud. Don’t think he’s got too much to worry about.

So what offense is he guilty of?

What?

I assume he’s being punished for something. I mean, why else would someone spend 42 consecutive winters in Siberia on the Hudson, I mean, Albany?

Good question. It holds too for the East End’s two Assemblymen, Fred Thiele and Tony Palumbo. I doubt they’ve got much to worry about in November either.

Yawn.

Exactly. Ah, but I saved the best for last, and that’s the 1st Congressional District race, a Lee & Perry Production.

Lee and Perrins? What does Worcestershire sauce have to do with this?

Nothing, smartass. It’s incumbent Republican Lee Zeldin of Shirley vs. Democratic challenger Perry Gershon of East Hampton.

And why should that pull me away from “Mike & Molly” reruns?

Because it’s as close to a knock-down, drag-out, old-time political battle as we’ve got out here. Mike & Molly? Really?

Anyway, Zeldin belittles his opponent as “Park Ave. Perry” with no real ties to the area since Gershon, a Manhattan businessman, changed his voter enrollment to his summer house only so he could run in this election.

The Democrat paints Zeldin as an out-of-touch Washington insider against gun control and universal healthcare. It’s bound to get nasty.

You know what else makes it interesting? Both candidates are Jewish.

Whoa, stop right there. That has absolutely nothing to do with…

Let me finish. Both guys are Jewish, but nobody cares. I mean, that’s something, right? Would that have been possible 40, 50 years ago? Hell no. I mean, everybody made a big deal about Kennedy because he was the first, and so far only, Catholic president, remember and the place is crawlin’ with Catholics.

I guess. And if ever a president needed to go to confession, it was him!

Yeah, but we ain’t elected a saint yet, nor are we likely to. Anyway, like I said, too much hasta happen before we can talk about 2020, agreed?

Agreed. So, can we meet over the holidays?

What? What sense does that make? Everyone will be wrapped up in, uh, you know, the holidays?

Yeah, but right after Thanksgiving they always put a little leather harness on Jack, a red light on his nose and tinsel on his antlers. I mean, who needs the Rockefeller Center tree?

You need a vacation, seriously.

Who doesn’t? What I really need is a burger and fries. Lots ‘o fries. Hey, you guys! Who wants fries?

Uh, gotta go. I hear my Mom callin.’


Tim Kelly is a former congressional press secretary and award-winning reporter, editor, columnist and photographer. He has lived on the North Fork for 30 years. For his mid-life crisis, he became a bagpiper.

East End Beacon

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