“Feeling any better, Andy?”

“I am! Thanks for asking.”

“Glad to hear it. What did it?”

“Well, for one thing, FiveThirtyEight is giving Biden a higher probability of winning the Electoral College. He’s up to 76%. Michigan is 88% likely to go his way. Wisconsin, where he was struggling after the violence in Kenosha? Eighty percent. (You should read this article by David Graham about one reason why.) Pennsylvania is at 76%. And he’s shored up his support in Minnesota. We’re still six weeks from the election, but unless Biden drops a giant turd at the debates, it’s pretty likely he’ll win. Depending on turnout, of course.”

“Of course. [Pause.] You know, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this.”

“What, turnout?”

“No. [Covers eyes with a hand and shakes head.] Look, I understand the election is a referendum on reality and nothing less than the fate of democracy is at stake, blah blah blah. But does it really need to be so front and center for you? Aren’t there things more worthy of your time than politics? Like music? Literature? Friends? Family? Cats? Even baseball, weird as it’s been this year? The Giants are over .500, you know.”

“Um, yes. Sorry.”

“The air quality has improved too, hasn’t it?”

“It has. The AQI was something like 14 yesterday. Getting outdoor exercise again has been a blast. But the wildfires haven’t exactly disappeared. Check out this photo I took in our backyard. Plus tomorrow a weather system off the Pacific might blow smoke from the Oregon and Washington fires our way, so even without any new fires here the toxic air will probably come back.”

Ash on a lemon leaf.

“That’s so you. Always looking on the bright side.”

“I suppose. The idea that victories are fleeting but losses endure runs strong in me.”

“And that’s another thing. Your sense of humor has disappeared. You used to be funny. Not in an LOL way, I grant, but at least in a smiley-face way.”

“Seems like since I retired every part of me has been getting more exercise except my coping mechanisms. [Pause.] Besides, it’s hard to be funny these days. It’s not just the election and climate change. There’s the pandemic. And racism. And anti-intellectualism. And sick friends. And getting older.”

“Randy Rainbow can do it. Seen his latest?”

“Du-uh! And forwarded the link to friends.”

“Obama can do it. Man, did he nail dad humor in this one, or what?”

[Sigh.] “Have I mentioned how much I miss intelligent leaders with polish, compassion, and a laugh-with rather than laugh-at sense of humor?”

“Only twelve times today. But don’t change the subject. Listen. You’ve got to lighten up. If Trump wins or creates havoc after the election, worry about it then. In the meantime, remember all you have to be grateful for and how privileged you are, which I don’t mean in that critical theory way we both find so creepy, although it’s true in that context as well.”

“Okay. And thanks. I appreciate the perspective.”

“For fifteen minutes. Then you’ll check FiveThirtyEight again to see if Biden’s chances in Pennsylvania have changed, and if they’re worse, you’ll go back to moping.”

“You know me so well. I’m hopeless, aren’t I?”

“That’s one thing we can both agree on.”

Former Risk Manager at UC Berkeley, author of four books, ectomorphic introvert.

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