Last night, the Mad Dog and I were talking, since we hadn’t chatted in a while, and he said, “OK, you’ve got the book out, the Berries’ album will be out soon, and as of this fall, you’re a tenured full professor. So what’s next?”
I told him the truth, that those are the things I’ve really wanted to accomplish, and now I need to figure out what lies ahead. At that point, he said “How about politics?”
Now, from the Mad Dog — who I know finds most of my politics loathsome — that’s quite the compliment. I noted that I’m too fat (I make Chris Christie look frail) and that since I live in the buckle of the Bible Belt (about an hour from Bob Jones U), all an opponent would have to do is point out some of my fiction to end the ballgame, so the point was moot. And I’m fine with that. But the Mad Dog kept playing with the idea, so we talked a little more.
“It’s kind of like The Big Sleep,” I said. “Philip Marlowe is a good guy — we’re supposed to see him as the knight rescuing the maiden, and we’re basically told that in the first chapter. But by the end of the book, he acknowledges that’s he’s ‘part of the nastiness now.’ I don’t want to be part of the nastiness — at least not any more than I can help. So I see my role as one in opposition to the State, within reason. Besides, the last politician I trusted was my dad.”
“You could do a lot worse than your dad.”
“I probably would.”
“But you could change people’s lives.”
“I do that now.”
And we went back to talking about family and music and books — the stuff that matters. It was quite the compliment, though, and again, I’m grateful.
Of course, he could have just been hoping I could be a spanner in the conservative works. He’s sneaky that way; I think it’s one of the reasons we love each other.