My mechanic—let’s call him Paddy—used to be my manager at the bar. He’s an incorrigibly obnoxious Irishman whom everyone likes, though no one can quite say why. His favorite thing in life, besides girls who are far too young for him and Irish Mist (preferably in tandem) is Republican politics. He even volunteers for some Irish R*p^blican organization, if you can believe there is such a thing. (Don't want anyone googling them to find this.)
How this came to be is a mystery. Most of his friends are nice Democrats. He lives in liberal Bethesda. He’s not particularly Catholic, which can make one vote foolishly at times. He’s an immigrant, and we all know how Republicans feel about them. (He does, too; one of his most astonishing characteristics is opposition to emigration. He’ll spout off at length, in his thick brogue, about how they should all go back to wherever they came from. The accent makes it pretty funny, though I once had to explain the joke to a young Salvadoran busboy whose ears were not so finely attuned to accents among native English speakers.)
One theory on the origins of Paddy’s conservativism is idiomatic confusion. A friend of his, a fellow Irish immigrant, once explained to me that Paddy feel into being a Republican quite by accident. He was just over 20 when he first arrived in the U.S., and went to stay with relatives in Chicago. Though he’d already been working in Australia, he had grown up in a very rural, mountainous area and Chicago was by far the largest city he’d ever been in. He was disoriented. Chicago is a political town, and soon after his arrival his politics were called into question. “You’re a Republican, right?” some burly Mike Ditka-type person asked. He quickly agreed that he was. Wee Paddy didn’t know from American politics, and he didn’t hear the capital R. Little “r” Irish republicans and big “R” American Republicans are not the same thing a’tall, but by the time he figured that out, years had gone by and he was far too stubborn to recant. Being contrary to everything sensible suits him, anyway.
I don’t think that story is true, but our Paddy is something of a local character and I’ve gotten tons of mileage out of it at the bar over the years.
So, my car has been in the shop all week, getting a new ignition switch. Despite his terrible politics, Paddy is a good mechanic and his rates for friends, even liberal scum like me, are very reasonable. When I went to pick it up this morning, a catastrophe had occurred; plastered all over my lovely, proud “Kerry for President” and “Anybody but Bush” bumper stickers were horrible monstrosities. I quickly clapped my hands over my eyes, but there was no getting around it. The back of my car had gone over to the dark side. Bush Cheney 2004! it blared. Elect Floyd to Congress! it commanded.
Not the vinyl stickers that had been all over the car when Paddy sold it to me (Ehrlich for Maryland!), even inside the glovebox. Those peeled right off. These were the kind that were stuck for life. I had to drive into the city like that, despoiled, suffering the judgment of my fellow drivers. Republicans looked at me this morning and thought, she’s one of ours. Democrats sneered at me--ME!-- in righteous disgust. The kind of psychic pain this has caused will not be easily assuaged.
I’m going to the Kerry campaign HQ later to beg for more stickers, and thank God I’m already in therapy. But Paddy will pay, oh yes he will. Revenge is a dish best served alongside a Guinness. My day will come.