I’m not one to pay much attention to the political horse races. In fact, this time of year disgusts me.
But today, I got to have fun -- with politics. You see, Oregon played Portland State this evening, and because this was a I-AA game, well the normally well-heeled folks that fill the club seats in Autzen Stadium gave way to someone like my friend and me. Long live eastside Portlanders.
At halftime, who should be walking in the club area shaking hands with the middle-age Duck fans sipping their cocktails but one Ron Saxton. Yes, that Ron Saxton, and most of the salt-and-pepper crowd seemed genuinely pleased to press his flesh. And though I tend to check out every political season, even I couldn’t pass up this chance to razz him.
My friend Chris is a public school teacher. He teaches a mixed 6-7-8 class in an alternative school in one of the poorest districts in the state. A lifelong Republican, he recently switched to the Democratic Party, in part because folks like Saxton spend a lot of their time denigrating public employees, including public school teachers. He’s a great teacher; one that hates the teacher’s union because the state and national union have pretty much lost their way. In other words, he’s up for grabs politically.
As we both smiled invitingly, my buddy Chris reached out his hand and asked point blank: “Ron, why do you want to cut my salary?” Ron, of course, was taken aback. He didn’t, he replied. He wanted to raise Chris’ salary, he said.
“Didn’t you say you wanted to fire me and hire me back at a lower salary and lower pension?” No, Ron said. That’s propaganda from the teacher’s union.
I, of course, joined in as best I could and took a higher road. In a soft background voice, I repeated several times, “you suck.” What I really wanted to say was, on behalf of my non-English speaking relatives who were immigrants fewer than 80 years ago, (insert angry phrase here). I guess “you suck” was the best I could do. Sorry, Baba and Dedo. I tried.
Ron was understandably unsettled. After an initial “what?” factor, he quickly extricated himself from the situation as the kid (OK, just a young political operative) behind him gently nudged him on the shoulder. There were friendlier hands to shake.
Now I understand some of my fellow bloggers and their incessant political insiderness. Politics can be fun, can’t it? I know I enjoyed my moment before ordering a vodka tonic to accompany my free popcorn.
After all, fun is fun.