2008 The Patriot
posted by April 1 at 11:53 AMon
I just returned from a few days in New York, where, among other things, I killed some time in Park Slope on Friday afternoon by getting my hair cut. You ask: Is he really about to build a Slog post out of getting a haircut on a Friday afternoon in Brooklyn?
Yes, he is. (And now he’s also going to stop talking about himself in the third person.) Apologies in advance if you’re already searching for the Zzzzzz key, but really: What would the blogosphere be without people filling it up with accounts of their
meaningless little highly consequential lives? Empty, I tell you. Empty!
So there I was getting my hair cut in Park Slope, a neighborhood that is about as Seattle as you get in New York. Wider streets, mellower pace, bars that are about sitting and talking rather than standing and being seen. The man cutting my hair, it turned out, was an immigrant from Dagestan—a Sephardic Jew whose ancestors had been bounced out of Spain during the Inquisition, wandered through the Middle East, and eventually settled in an area of Russia near the Black Sea. Recent years have seen an upsurge of anti-Semitism in Russia, and that turn of events pushed this man, who looked to be about 30, to emigrate to the U.S.
We began talking about the presidential election. He said he’s never voted before, but he has citizenship and plans to vote this year. It being Park Slope and all, I just assumed he’d be a Democrat, but when I asked how he felt about Hillary Clinton he told me, without any hint of fear about sounding sexist around me or his female coworkers, that he doesn’t trust a woman to lead a country of over 300 million people. I asked about Obama. He said: “I want change, but not that kind of change.” I figured it wasn’t wise to anger the man who was cutting my hair, so I just absorbed this and asked about McCain.
“He’s a patriot,” the man replied quickly.
That’s who he’s voting for. The patriot. End of story. Not the woman or the black guy.
I don’t know how many other Americans have already made up their minds and coded the election this way—the patriot vs. the woman or the black guy—but I’d bet the man who cut my hair is not the only one. We get way down in the electoral weeds on this blog, and I love going there, but it’s sobering to remember how few Americans do the same and how many of them are likely to make decisions based on simple-minded coding grounded in sexism, racism, and knee-jerk nationalism.
I asked the man what party he belongs to. “No party,” he said. “Independent immigrant.”
Then he complained about how expensive it is to live in New York and put me through some extended braggadocio about his eye for beautiful women. I felt bad for the guy. He had a lot to prove. I tipped him well.