‘Oh boy, are you in for a mighty surprise!!’ laughed the fair Ivana as she tumbled in through the kitchen door and dropped her schoolbag right on top of my latest – and greatest – origami Sarus Crane.
‘I am?’ I asked pleasantly, meanwhile planning with relish how I would tell the next hunk she brought home that – alas – she suffered from a near incurable variant of the Asian clap.
‘You sure are. And if you don’t mind, I’m going to sit here until the thunderbolt strikes. I wouldn’t miss this one for a million…!’
I smiled affably. ‘As you well know, my dear, you are always welcome in my Domum Suavis Domum. But, as you must also be aware: Alfred B. Mittington is not easily impressed. Let alone knocked off his feet. I fear you are in for a bitter disappointment.’
‘Ow… I wouldn’t bet on that! Better have your heart medicine at hand. Just in case…’
‘What heart medicine?’ I asked. ‘I have the ticker of an athletic rhino.’ But, to be on the safe side, I did scan the room for my jeroboam bottle of Ginginha. Her haughty poise was a little… unsettling, let’s say. There is always something eerie in an overconfident Ivana.
‘Will we have to wait long?’ I enquired casually once I had located the soothing cherry-red label standing behind the stack of Summa Theologica.
‘Well… about as long as it takes a young lady to get ready for the opera,’ she spoke enigmatically. ‘That might be a while. So let’s chat. I’ve been brooding about a question.’
‘Shoot,’ I said. An elderly man of taste and sophistication never grudges the young their sorry curiosity.
‘This bizz we spoke of last time? About who you write your blogs for?’
‘Whom I write my blogs for, yes?’
‘If I understand you well, you want to bitch on about the people in Brussels, right? Even though most of your readers live in the US? And a handful in Russia? Both of which have nothing to do with the EU?’
‘Both of WHOM have next to nothing to do with the European Union, indeed…’
‘Right. Have it your way and be my guest. But, shouldn’t you at least write something about the Presidential elections in the States? As in: who people ought to vote for?’
‘Aye! Thou! Like an endorsement or something? Isn’t that what you over-aged know-it-alls always insist on doing?’
‘An endorsement? From Alfred B.? Who in the world would be interested in THAT?’
‘Well, three quarters of your readers approximately? Those who live in the US of A?’
I shook my old grey head in disbelief. How innocent the young! How ignorant is youth! How funny, so much naiveté in half a tête-à-tête!
‘My dear girl,’ I spoke at last, ‘even if I knew how to chose, nobody in the world would care one iota for what I have to say on the subject. I am not an American. I do not get to vote. I will not be ruled by either Mitt or Barry. What weight, what value, what appeal would my best opinion have?’
‘Dedushka, are you sick?’ she said with a naughty twinkle in the eyes, ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so incredibly modest…’
‘Modesty has nothing to do with it, my dear, dear girl. It’s a matter of aptness. Would you ask a snake to opine on the triple jump? Would you want the views of a fish on the use of perspective in Piero della Francesca? No, you would not. For it is senseless. And so is my personal preference for presidential candidates. I am sure both are absolutely fine men, who will lead their country to the best of their abilities and will do as good a job as circumstances allow. There is no more to say on the subject.’
‘Mitt Romney is a fine man, who will lead his country to the best of his abilities?’
‘Mitt Romney is a fine man, who will lead his country to the best of his abilities.’
‘Are you kidding me? He’s George W. Bush in a Gary Grant Halloween mask! You want old W back??’
‘Mr Romney is a Mormon, dear. At the very least that makes him a scrupulously honest man. And that counts for no little with me. Dishonesty in oval office…? Horrible! Trice horrible! Have we not been there before? Have we not seen what havoc presidential untruth wrecks on the body politic? I did try to warn old Ike about putting Tricky Dick on the ticket, back in the old days. But would he listen? No sir! He knew better, after consulting his golf club. And look what mess that got us into! You won’t have the same trouble with Mitt. Mitt is alright. Mitt wouldn’t tell a lie…’
‘Oh boy, you stink!’
‘On the contrary. I see the best in my fellow man. It is a Christian virtue.’
‘And what about Obama then? Do you love him just as much? You ask me, he’s a bloody disappointment. All those promises he made? All the stuff he was going to change once and for all and forever? “Yes we can…” Sure… But what did he deliver? It’s what I call a poor show. Bloody Beggars Opera…’
‘Oh youth, youth! You crave for heroes and you seek them in politics. Futile quest, bount for failure! You have so much to learn! Did President Obama really do so badly? I don’t think so. In fact I think he did extraordinarily well, given the circumstances. The poor thing inherited two unwinnable wars and the biggest financial crisis in human recollection. And yet the country did not sink. It kept afloat. I admit it is all far from sensational, and Paradise was not Regained these last four years, but hell: nobody can ask for more. The man worked miracles… And he is of course a miracle himself. A black man in the white house! I never thought I’d see it in my life time. But that’s the United States for you! The most prejudiced nation after Apartheid South Africa… With a mammoth racial problem that filters into everything, that disfigures all, that wrecks no little, that no one can escape from… An abomination that even got written in the hallowed Constitution!
‘And yet, for all their deeply rooted racism… Here they go and elect a black president! Only in America, my dear… Only in America! They are an empire. They misbehave badly and widely. They waste the resources of humanity and as good old Atticus Finch observed: they go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up… But they somehow manage to rise above their own pettiness and crime-sheet. Where else are you going to see that? It’s as if the Rumanians elected a Gypsy prime minister… Or the Vatican raised a rabbi to the papacy. Unheard of! Unthinkable! A miracle…’
‘And talking of apparitions!’ Ivana suddenly beamed as she looked out the window. ‘Here comes the marvel of the day!’
I stepped forward to see what she was talking about; but before my old eyes could focus, the back door swung open and Hannibal rushed in, his shirt undone, his eyes twinkling, a smile on his face and on his head something which seemed to be a plastic turban. He looked ridiculous but stared at me as if he anticipated praise and applause. I couldn’t readily give it. I was too gobsmacked.
‘Why, in the name of all that is holy, Hannibal, are you wearing cellophane around your head?’ I asked. ‘And what’s that yellow froth in your hair…?’
‘Guess, dedushka! It’s one of your favourites!’
‘One of my favourite whats?’
‘THE favourite,’ Ivana hollered, as she almost rolled over laughing onto my breakfast table. ‘Your favourite food!’
‘Don’t tell me,’ I stammered. ‘Say it ain’t so. Please… Please say it ain’t—‘
‘Yes, dedushka!’ Hannibal gleamed. ‘It’s Hair Mayonnaise!!’
It was then, dear reader, that I fainted…