Monday, November 23, 2009
don't go into politics so much any more.
Which gives me a chance to tell this true story. In 1978 I was flying from Chicago or Pittsburgh or somewhere to Ithaca, NY on Allegheny Airlines (now part of US Air and then justly known as Agony Airlines). I was sitting next to some businessman sort who inquired why I was going to Ithaca and I explained I was a senior at Cornell University. What did I want to do when I grew up, he asked. Well, I said, I thought I might want go to law school and then return to my native state of Idaho and go into politics, I said. I could run for Congress and then after that for the U.S. Senate. And once a US Senator, who knows, I might become Secretary of State or something like that one day. The businessman jeered. Ridiculous he said. Who did I think I was, some sort of Rhodes Scholar? I was able to reply, quite truthfully, that in fact, I was just returning from Seattle, where I was very pleased to have been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship, and would be "going up" as I had learned to say, the next year to the ancient university of Oxford, where I would be, as he had suggested, a Rhodes Scholar. As the song says, life may never again be so sweet in Independence, Indiana. That is to say, boy did that ever shut him up. But unfortunately, in life you only get one of these moments.
I never did make it back to Idaho. When I took LWJ, then a cute, young person of blondness (and still cute I hasten to add) from a prosperous suburb of NYC, to show her how nice Boise could be of a Christmas season, a cold temperature inversion had moved in, dropping the mercury to a brisk 25 below zero. There was an ice fog as well, that uniquely pestilential atmospheric phenomenon where moisture and smoke combine into suspended toxic ice crystals that are impossible to breathe without coughing. She met with the founder of the local endocrinological institution, who turned out to be a diabetic cowboy who did not think women should be doctors, by gum. He is now in a better place, and so are we. Then unfortunately she decided to go shopping. Let's just say in those days Boise was a long way from midtown. You'd have a lot more luck looking for a two-man saw than a dress. Boise has now become a much more livable city by those of us with elevated tastes. But by all accounts, being a Congressman really sucks.