No sooner had the Old Prospector driven off in his new Benz than Senator Joseph Biden pulled up to my Upper Valley high-class hacienda in an Indian rickshaw.
Can’t a body get any weeding done around here these days?
Biden walked into my courtyard and planted himself on the plastic-and-wood bench that I haven’t had the heart to toss out. He launched into a 12-minute monologue on his Irish-American roots, Grandpa Finnegan, his son’s application to Princeton, a speech he’d given on the Princeton campus, the fact that he hated giving a speech on the Princeton campus, and then spent much time discussing the vagaries of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s sunglasses.
I asked if he wanted to help weed.
“Oh, no,” he said, stretching his legs and admiring my beautifully-xeriscaped (i.e., cheap) front yard. “I’m here to talk about the Indians.”
“Mescalero Apache? Tigua?” I asked.
“No, no,” he replied, as if begging off a free Sunday lunch. Instead, he launched into a 12-minute monologue on his Native American roots, Grandpa Son-of-Geronimo, his son’s application to an Indian college, a speech he’d given on the Tohono O’odom reservation, the fact that he hated giving a speech on the Tohono O’odom reservation, and the vagaries of sunglasses sold by Tohono O’odom natives to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
I asked again if he wanted to help weed.
“No, but I’m here to talk about Indian Americans, not American Indians,” he said. “Seems you can’t walk into a 7-11 or Valero on Doniphan unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
“Did you plagiarize that, or think it up yourself?”
He shifted his frame about as easily as any long-time politician shifts his positions — just enough to keep the votes and money coming. I felt a few dollars slip out of my wallet, of their own accord. The man was good. But I wasn’t ready to vote for him.
I suggested he help weed.
“Not likely. I’m only here for a minute. Can you give my rickshaw driver some water? Seems he can’t pass a high-class Upper Valley hacienda without asking for water in a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
I took water to the driver. He was from Punjab. His name was Darvesh, and he was a post-doc in medical anthropology.
‘How come you’re with him?” I asked, jerking my head back toward the bench.
“Got caught plagiarizing,” he said.
“Say,” Darvesh said, “is it true about Doniphan? Lots of Indians there?”
“I guess,” I replied. “But be careful of that 7-11 at Redd Road. The night shift guys all voted Democrat, last time around.”
Biden got up and walked to the rickshaw.
“Say, Joe,” I said. “What’s all this about ‘Barack America?’”
That was a mistake. Biden went off on a 30-minute tangent, wandering across the moors of his mind and waxing poetic on such topics as hyperinflation in Hawai’i, the cost of peanuts in Pennsylvania, a new Russia strategy, and the IQ of Barbara Boxer.
I swear I saw the weeds grow another inch before he was done.
Sure wish it had been the Old Prospector in the back of that rickshaw. At least he’d offer to help. He wouldn’t actually help, but he’d make the offer. And that’s the difference between a senator and someone respectable.