Bereft of a rental car, Slats asked if I could transport him to the nearest Aston Martin dealership on Saturday. Why not? The DB9 is a fine bit of automotive engineering. And I’m sure the salespeople would love to see my ’01 Civic HX on their lot.
While on the road to Vienna, VA, we chatted about the political arena and his semi-retirement therefrom. We’ve had variations on this conversation before, but I suppose the nostalgia factor was running high with the holiday music emanating from the radio.
“I got tired of oscillating between rage and regret,” he said.
“Aren’t those two of your preferred emotions?”
He waved his hand in a manner that indicated he was being serious. I knew I should stop cracking wise for one minute, perhaps two if I exercised super-human self-restraint.
“No, and I’m not talking about the grind, or chasing down campaigns for non-payment. It’s seeing good people lose. Sometimes they were my clients; other times, I was working against them.”
“Sounds like you still have a touch of the true believer.”
“Eh. Mercenary sensibilities will only get you so far. Actually pretty far, based on what my accountant is telling me. But he keeps yelling about my spending habits, so what does he know?”
Slats paused. He was probably calculating his personal cash-on-hand following his most recent visit to Atlantic City. After a moment, he picked up again.
“So anyway, yeah. The disappointment accumulates. It’s the tundra in January. One snowstorm leads to the next and it settles in. It’s isolating. I spent four months in Kemijarvi, Finland back in…’79. Not the center of the city either, the outskirts.”
“Sure, because downtown Kemijarvi is known for it’s bustle.”
“You have no idea. I was in a cabin there…in the winter. It was harsh too. Desolate once you got a few miles off the main road. The snow would pile up and there was nothing you could do about it. Same feeling when you see fine people getting the short end of the electoral stick…folks who would shake up the System getting overwhelmed by vicious circumstances. Spent too many Novembers cycling between anger and resignation. It wears you down.”
“I hear you. I don't know though. I always thought of those occasions as opportunities for productive contemplation, for introspection. And long-term plotting on a grand scale, of course.”
“It helps if you know some good people. Authentic, dedicated to public service. Not raging, self-involved jagoffs.”
“I do actually.”
“Well,” he shrugged, “that’s good then. That is what keeps you going. Resilient people getting through the tough times, the Valley Forge moments.”
“Ice melts. Spring always arrives. The shamrocks return every year.”
“I suppose that is true. Listen, when we get there, you should tell them you are looking for a trade-in deal. How many miles you have on this ride?”
“123,000, Slats. And I’m not the one in the market for a new vehicle.”
“Why should you be? It’s practically just off the showroom floor. Plenty of value left.”
“So you aren’t planning on buying today I assume?”
“Nah. The roads are open. Not a flake of snow in sight. A perfect day for a drive.”
Stay tuned, as more will follow.