“Man, I reckon for all your calling of winners and losers in a column after every election, you yourself have an “L” written across your forehead big and wide as the blue sky,” said political pundit Stumpy Wagers.
We were social distancing on an Ocean Parkway bench, each with our own half-pint of Jim Beam and a marijuana cigarette as cars whizzed by north and south, stopping only as the light on the parkway turned red, allowing pedestrians and bikers to cross.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, taking a swish of whiskey.
“Both Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes and Assemblywoman Mathylde Frontus won after you all but said they lost,” said Stumpy.
“Then you call that rag you run purple when the will of the people elected Democrats. It ain’t for you to say Republicans should be in office for more contrarian voices. The Dems and GOP control both the executive and legislative branches all the time until the winds of change hit sure as autumn turns to winter. Besides Republican Nicole Malliotakis beat Democrat Max Rose in the congressional race and part of that district is in Brooklyn,” he added.
“I do have a habit of jumping the gun and picking the losers come election time. I suppose because it’s my nature to like the political underdog,” I replied.
“Then there is your post-election political winners and losers column. I never can figure out why you even write that. That column, by nature, is designed to make you more enemies than friends.”
I took a long drag off the marijuana cigarette and held the smoke in until I heard my heart thumping around in my chest like a captured frog in a cardboard shoebox.
“Yeah, if I didn’t own Kings County Politics, I’d probably have fired my ass a long time ago for some of the things I write,” I said, glumly.
Wagers took a gulp from his whiskey bottle. “Don’t beat yourself up too bad, bud,” he said. “You ain’t half the loser as Donald Trump. What a piece of work he is. Him challenging the election is not only hurting the American tradition of a peaceful transition of the president, but it clearly shows him for the asshole he is.”
“I agree with you on that one,” I said, laughing. “I kind of hope he refuses to leave office because it would be a grand spectacle to see the secret service and military drag him by the hair out of the White House on Inauguration Day and throw all his belongings on the Rose Garden lawn.”
We then sat silently, getting high and watching the Ocean Parkway traffic whoosh by in front of us. I thought about all the people in the cars passing by. Many were probably heading home to loved ones for it was early evening. A screaming ambulance raced by maybe carrying a poor COVID victim to a lonely death at a local hospital.
I wet my whistle again from the small bottle and looked at Stumpy. He is my age and bald except for a neat patch of grey hair at the back of his head. His face is full of wrinkles, his eyes like my grandfather’s eyes. He looked like he had spent his life between climbing mountains of success and crawling out from beneath rocks to escape failures.
Looking at him now was like looking into a mirror and seeing myself. Stumpy is my oldest and dearest friend – a colleague since birth.
“What are you thinking about?” he now asked me.
“That here in the real world there are no winners and losers. We’re all on journeys and share the great final destination. We all go through life basking in our victories and taking lumps in our defeats. But in actuality, life is more like Ocean Parkway and the most important thing is to just keep it moving.”
Ain’t that the truth,” Stumpy said, exhaling a puff of marijuana smoke into the cool evening air. “Ain’t that the truth.