Long line at the video store the other night. One of those somebody's credit card won't scan and there's only one register open, one clerk ringing everybody up, because her co-worker's on break hold ups, and I'm stuck at the end of it, behind a couple of college students. Guy and a girl. The guy has their movies and is waiting patiently. The girl's pacing all about, wandering in and out of line, checking out the candy, roving as far as the magazine rack, never coming to a standstill in any one spot. They're not a couple couple, just friends, and, it seems to me, friends of recent acquaintance, which I think is part of why she's so nervous and antsy.
He's black. She's Asian. But only his race matters here, and that's only because of what she's about to say and the asumption she's going to make.
"You decided who you're going to vote for yet?" she asks him. She's just wandered back from the soda cooler so I don't know what's prompted the question. He doesn't get a chance to answer. She cuts him off quick, as if catching herself in a big mistake. "Oh right. Obama. Duh."
"How about you?" he asks. "You know who you'll vote for?"
"I'm thinking Obama. I'm leaning his way. But I don't know. I've heard some good things about McCain. But then I heard a lot of people don't like him."
In her pacing about she's gotten ahead of him so in looking back at him she's looking my way too and she catches the look on my face. It makes her laugh. "Oh no!" she says. "Are you like a big McCain guy?"
I don't like to get involved in strangers' conversations, especially when they're talking politics, but she has asked me a direct question. I try to sound very wise and disinterested. "No. But I think that anyone who's leaning towards Obama wouldn't want to vote for McCain. He's very conservative."
"Oh? I don't know. I've just heard he's a good guy. You know who I really think I'll vote for though?" she says to her friend, forgetting about me. "The Green guy."
"What green guy?"
"You know. The guy, he's like always running?"
"Is that him?"
"Is he for the Green Party?"
"I don't think so."
"Then who's the Green guy?" She remembers I'm there and asks me. "You know who I'm talking about, right?"
"The Green Party's running a woman this year," I tell her. "Cynthia McKinney."
"Then that's not who I mean. I mean, like the guy who's like, you know? Kind of a hippie?"
By this point her friend is just staring at her, looking stunned.
"I've got no idea who you're talking about," he says.
"No? Hmmm. Well, whoever it is, that's who I want. I think we need somebody like that. You know? Someone who's like all cool about things and everything. Like if something happens, he'll just get all laid back and be real cool and like everything's fine, it's no big deal and shit? That's what this country needs right now, I think."
That's the end of it. They reach the register, check out their DVD's, and leave talking about where they'll stop on the way back to the dorm to pick up something to eat.
There's no moral to this story. I'm drawing no conclusions. That girl isn't representative of anything or anybody but herself and for all I know she wasn't even being herself. I'm not sure she meant anything she said. In fact, I suspect she was just talking out of nervousness.
What bothers me, though, is the possibility that she had heard some good things about McCain, the kind of things that would make her not see much difference between him and Obama and her idealized Green guy.
I'm also trying to imagine something happening and John McCain just getting all laid back and being real cool and like everything's fine, it's no big deal and shit?
John McCain, hippie Green guy.