With the Ears to Hear

I confess that on Election Day this past November I didn't vote my conscience or my pocketbook. I walked into the polling place and asked myself the question that both presidential candidates asked me: "Am I better off today than I was four years ago?" The answer, unfortunately, was no.

Four years ago I didn't have hair in my ears.

This new condition was pointed out to me by my daughters—they sit on either side of me at the kitchen table—who, given the delicacy of the topic, were sensitive enough to mention it during dinner. "Yuck," said the one. "Gross," said the other. "I'm going to eat on the couch," said the spouse.

The very next weekend, the woman who cuts my hair carefully broached the same topic: "You know, while I'm at it why don't we just run these clippers in those ears and clean 'em up a little."

With these words still ringing in my head (although it could have been the sound of electric clippers), I stood alone in the voting booth and pulled the lever for the only candidate who understands what it means to endure the humiliation of young children ("Hey Dad, I like your new earphones! Hah, hah, hah!") and, occasionally, the attentions of nest-seeking birds.

Who was this candidate? It was Ralph Nader, a man long admired for his consumer advocacy, his deep social conscience, and, to a lesser extent, his ample ear hair. (Not to mention his bushy eyebrows.)

But the election is over, and it makes no sense to keep fantasizing about a Nader presidency. ("A rock. A river. An air bag.") The election, after all, is not about personalities. It's about freedom and democracy and the fact that, in our great country, a child—any child, regardless of race, religion, or creed—can grow up to accept questionable campaign contributions from lobbyists.

I just get all choked up when I think about it.

May I Take Your Order?

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1997
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