Monday, September 14, 2009

A Tea Party Anecdote

As many of you know, I bartend a few nights a week for extra cash, and there was a big all-day street festival yesterday on the block where I work, so I had to go in early to sling booze to the partiers. About five o'clock this Hispanic guy in his late twenties came in with a Buccaneers hat and ordered a shot of Cuervo, two limes and salt, and started talking about how much he loved the neighborhood and how he was lucky to be in town for the street fair. I asked him where he was from, and he told me he was going to school in Panama City, Florida, but was in town with his uncle for the 9/12 protest. "I don't really pay attention to politics," he said, "but my uncle is biiiiiiiiig into it. He'll talk to you for hours about this stuff. So he got me started watching Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, and I've started listening to their point of view on things, and I've been meeting all these people who are dissatisfied with Obama's health care agenda and what have you."

Another Cuervo.

"I'm Puerto Rican, Cuban and Cherokee Indian, and I have no problem with people who can speak English, but a lot of the people down in Florida, they speak Spanish but they don't speak English. I don't speak fluent Spanish, but I understand it all, and you need to be able to make yourself understood in English, you know what I mean? There's so many fuckin' Mexicans where I live. . ."

Another Cuervo.

"The conservatives are the ones who've done good in their life, they have a house, they have something to lose. The liberals are mostly on the poorer side of town, the blacks, the Mexicans. If you just want to sit on your ass and take other peoples' money, why can't everyone just do that? You know?" He talks to his uncle on his cell phone about how the town might be dead where their hotel is, but he's having a great time where he's at. Then he turns back to me.

"Someone brought a sign to the protest saying 'Public Opinion Now,' like, they don't think the protesters represent public opinion, and he was trying to provoke a fight, you know, to show that this was all just some violent thing. There were some of the stupider people there trying to get in his face, and the smarter people were, like, don't let him make you lose your temper, you know, stay peaceful and respectful."

The sign actually said "Public Option Now," and there was a picture in the Washington Post the next day of people screaming at him.

I say something about how I think anyone who objects to Obama's plan should have their own alternative to offer, because the status quo doesn't work. He nods and actually seems to take my point. "Man, I'm not embarrassed to say this. When I was a kid, there was a robber trying to get into my house, and I had a gun. I was going to the door, and I bumped into a dresser or something and shot a big hole in my foot. When I went to the hospital, they took the bullet out and put a pin in my toe so the bones would grow back straight, and when they grew back, two of them were fused together. You know how much that cost?" The point of his story is that it was expensive.

Then he surprised me: "I actually think there's a method to Obama's madness. I haven't given up on him yet. Hey, I'm going to go walk around the street some, but I'll be back later, okay?"

He came back later and had another two Cuervos. Good tipper.