Op-ed column: Nero residents grumble about economy, spar over election

Disease Cotter has come to the conclusion that he feels most at ease in the company of domesticated
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Disease Cotter has come to the conclusion that he feels most at ease in the company of domesticated animals and plants.

He now brings dog biscuits on his neighborhood walks. He hopes to meet a friendly dog being walked along the way whose owner could be persuaded to let Disease give the pooch a biscuit in hopes of getting to pet the animal.

Disease also says hello to a plant he inherited when Wanda Tamburino downsized to a condo whenever he comes home. He calls the plant “Wanda” but doesn’t mention that bit of personal news in his still- frequent forays to the Four Clover Tavern in Nero, a fictional upstate mill town.

Political bickering

“I am so sick of this media adulation of Barack Obama, who will be the undoing of private property and gun rights if right-thinking Americans don’t hold him and his Clinton-loving cronies and his washed-up civil wrong friends in check,” Mike Van Wilson said to Disease at the Clover, sounding as if he were practicing the monologue for his WNRO radio talk show.

“I’m still hopeful,” Disease replied, wishing his fiery friend Marty the Bull, the retired union leader, was on hand to do verbal battle with Mike. Like his hero Obama, Disease is not known for drama.

Marty, though, was at his Albany financial planner’s office that night, where the common wisdom that meetings are called to share bad news was no doubt proving true. Pensions for retired Nero sock workers are minimal but Marty had been among the lucky ones who earned extra income in various ways and invested wisely. At least he had invested wisely until October came along.

Looking for work

Wanda Tamburino, still facing unemployment as the local problem-fixer for the region’s retiring congressman, was sitting directly under one of the lights in the bar filling out an application for a job in the Obama administration.

“Do you think they’ll hire you?” Disease asked.

“It’s a long shot,” Wanda said. “We hardly come from a swing state. And though Obama took Nero itself, our county went for McCain.”

“No doubt in part because of my cogent conservative arguments on talk radio, one of the few voices of truth in the media’s liberal wilderness,” Mike intoned.

“You bet, lover boy,” Wanda said, arching an eyebrow. Mike and Wanda had become an unlikely romantic couple and the possibility of Wanda getting a job in Washington was a sore subject. Mike could follow her, of course, but as with Democratic bureaucrats trying to get a job with Obama, competition for jobs among right-wing talk hosts in major markets is severe.

That very day the constantly unimpressed WNRO sales manager had referred to Mike as Dime-a-Dozen Van Wilson.

“Do you think your man Obama will fix the economy?” Mike asked, momentarily letting go of his conservative stance.

“It could be it’s beyond him, Mike, just as it’s probably beyond George Bush or would have been beyond John McCain,” Wanda said, momentarily becoming less partisan herself.

Pinching pennies

“I’m ready to order,” Disease said to Stan the bartender. “Could I have that Geezer Special you’ve been advertising in the paper, the one with the free French fries? I’ve got to watch my pennies, you know. My latest reaction to bad news on Wall Street has been to cry like a baby.”

What a wimp, Mike thought, more chagrined, though, about the fact that Stan was advertising in the newspaper as opposed to Mike’s radio show.

“Wanda, do you think we could go Dutch treat on a couple of Geezer Specials?” Mike asked.

Wanda didn’t even crack a complaint or a smile as she nodded yes.

Bob Cudmore lives in Scotia and it a regular contributor to the Sunday Opinion section.

Categories: Opinion

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