One Last Visit With Old Man 2011

The soft knock at the door came as a surprise. It was late; the logs in the fireplace had burned down to a pile of embers and I was ready to turn in for the night and join my wife who had retired earlier.

If the knocking at the door was unexpected, it was nothing compared to my surprise when I turned on the light and opened the door to see Newt Gingrich standing there.

“Mr. Speaker, is that you?” I asked, not wanting to believe my own eyes.

He paused a moment before bursting into a roar of laughter, changing, even as he laughed, into a gray haired, bearded old man. It was Old Man 2011 paying an end of year visit, just as some of his predecessors had in past years.

“I thought you might get a kick out of my Newt routine,” the grizzled old man chuckled. “I thought of channeling Ol’ Newt because he’s been such an interesting guy this year. His campaign was a joke last summer when his staff all quit on him, and now he’s right back on top of the pack of the ‘Anybody but Mitt’ crew. Besides,” he added, “He has a knockout of a wife who plays a French horn. I thought you might appreciate that.”

“Yes, he has a good looking wife,” I conceded, “and I certainly appreciate people who play the horn, though I don’t know what that has to do with Newt’s fitness to be president.” I paused and added, “I am amused, however, that of all the whacky things he’s said over the years, the things that get him the most flack from other candidates and the Tea Partiers are when he accidentally says something that makes sense. Go figure.

“But, enough politics,” I said, “Can I offer you something to drink? A light snack?”

The old man settled into a recliner, put his feet up and suggested a mug of Quarry microbrew would be welcome. I got a growler out of the refrigerator and filled a schooner with dark ale and set it down along with a bowl of nuts. After taking a drink he set the mug down and asked, “My work is about done. A couple nights and I’m out of here. How’d I do?”

“I had a really good year,” I said. “My wife and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary a couple months ago. A granddaughter finished high school last spring and started college and the next one is up for the same thing in 2012. I finally published my book of hunting stories in November. I did lots of fishing and hunting. I have a great bird dog. Life is good.”

“It’s nice to know that I have at least one happy customer,” he said. “I’ve had complaints from people who didn’t like the weather. Too hot, too cold, too much rain, not enough rain, drought, floods, too many tornadoes.” He downed the last of the beer and suggested that a refill might be in order. “I don’t know why they blame me. If they’d pay attention to what scientists have been saying about extremes in weather as part of the global warming picture, maybe they’d pay a little more attention to all the junk they’re putting in the air.”

“Your point is well-taken,” I replied, adding, “but I’ve been through this enough times to know that we shouldn’t expect people to act logically. Heck, even your buddy Newt got attacked for publicly agreeing with Nancy Pelosi that climate change is real and needs to be addressed.”

“Yeah, that’s politics. Frankly, I’m tired of the whole thing. I already feel sorry for the kid waiting for me to finish. If I thought American politics was way over the top this year, he’ll really get his fill.” With that, he finished his beer, stood up and zipped his coat.

“Say, do you suppose we could get together and go fishing next summer?”

I chuckled and said, “If you can figure out how to get back here, we’ll do it.”