In yards opposite each other on a Texas suburban street were a Ted Cruz and a Beto O’Rourke sign. My wife’s brother fantasized about going out in the middle of the night and switching the signs. But he’d told them about it and so couldn’t act on it.
It occurred to me that had he done so, the next morning the Republican would have looked across to his neighbor and seen not the despicable Beto sign, but one touting his own candidate, Cruz. Meanwhile, the Democrat would have seen not the hated Cruz sign, but one promoting O’Rourke. Would each have wondered if his neighbor had experienced a miraculous overnight epiphany?
Then reality would have kicked in. Each would have realized the signs had been reversed.
Indignant, each would have stepped outside, determined to find out how his sign had crossed over the street. Then, seeing his political opponent neighbor looking equally perplexed, each would have surmised that some prankster had done the double deed. Being sensible neighborly Texans, they might have carried the signs to the middle of the quiet road and made a peaceable exchange.
Laura and I arrived in Houston to heat and humidity. Our last afternoon, the weather temperate, we sat in my brother- and sister-in-law’s suburban garden and contemplated paradise. We picked the fruit of an orange tree and devoured it. Laura’s brother gave me a pepper and warned me to spit out the seeds before the heat became too much. But the one he gave me was mild. The second set my mouth on fire.
Laura’s 98-year-old father looked out from the garden table and mentally framed a camera shot of the deepest possible blue sky beyond a latticework of branches.
The day before, I’d listened to conservatives demolishing, as they thought, Democrats’ arguments for tolerating the so-called refugee caravan, a gathering of several thousand Hondurans marching thousands of miles north in hope of obtaining asylum in the United States. These commentators contended that most of the marchers are men, belying what they said is a myth that the caravan consists of families, that is, women and children. They talked about criminals. They said that Democrats had no answers for the immigration problem. Their own solution was Trump’s calling up fifteen thousand troops to force them back. Then they turned to prayer. Only then did I realize I was listening to a religious station.
Our trip to Texas had begun badly. Going through “blue state” Newark’s airport security, my titanium hip replacement joints triggered first a scan, then a full-body pat-down by a man who tested almost every nook and cranny. Not satisfied, he ordered a swab. When he rubbed it on my palms, I realized he was testing for explosive residue. Fear of discrimination due to profiling has caused discrimination due to surgical implants. Finding nothing, he let me go.
Our return trip began on a happier note. Those titanium implants also triggered the scan, which they always do, as I was going through “red state” Houston’s airport security. The man assigned to do the pat-down briefly touched each side of my leg and wished me a good trip.
As we repacked our luggage outside the security area, I told Laura that on November 6, I’d be voting Republican. She laughed, knowing better. But it was true that I’d been given pause.