There’s been cloud of gray smoke billowing over my suburb in Atlanta, Georgia. I can’t think of a better metaphor for what’s happening to my surrounding country. As forest fires in Tennessee and South Carolina rage down, their effects have left an ominous atmosphere to draw conclusions from, almost 3 weeks since Orange became the new Red, White and Blue.
My evolution of what the hell just happened to wanting to burn everything down to thinking we’re all going to be okay has been hilarious.
Two years ago, a couple of months before I went back to stand up comedy, I wrote my first joke.
People ask me what it’s like living with 4 women. My immediate answer is, dealing with double standards. My least favorite one is the car. My wife can road rage with the best of them, make f bombs sound like Shakespeare, my daughters will laugh and say mom’s a character. But the moment I get frustrated and say “excuse me fellow motorist, your inability to use your turn signal has greatly inconvenienced me”, I’ve got a kid in the backseat googling therapists because “dad’s got an anger management problem”.
It usually gets solid laughs and I’ve had audience members come to me and say “that’s so true, happens to me all the time”. I think it works because it’s a real-life experience to which people with children can relate. Parents are held to lofty ideals by their kids because mom and dad are supposed to be heroic, or at the very least, role models.
I’m a ridiculously flawed person. But I try to improve every day to be a better husband, father, friend, writer and comedian.
I’ve been struggling with a lot since the election, mostly in “taking the high road” with people who voted differently than me.
The person in the White House is supposed to be better than me. If I wanted someone who was unqualified and unfit, I’d vote for myself. I’m not proud of how flawed I am, but at least I don’t celebrate me at my worst. I try to be better. The current celebration of flawed people represented by their flawed President- elect is an unfunny joke. It’s bombing.
I’m a lifelong fan of comic books. When I learned to read, they were the first things in my hands, a 30 or so page of good guys and bad guys, of escapism and adventure. My current favorite is the Captain America: Steve Rogers series written by Nick Spencer. In early summer, he turned America’s red, white and blue good guy, bad. At the end of the first issue, Captain America throws his former sidekick Jack Flag out of a plane, turns to his accomplice and says “Hail Hydra”, declaring his devotion to what had been his arch enemy for over 70 years.
When I woke up November 9th, I felt like I was now the villain, my own origin story changed, from Bible reading, praying husband and father to 3 daughters who volunteers, gives to charity, signs up for progressive causes, votes in every election, off year, presidential, emergency runoffs, SPLOST projects and city council referendums to now what is wrong with the whole country.
I live in a place of right-wing dominance. There are no radio stations outside of NPR, that broadcast anything but conservative views. I can’t get my car repaired or go to the doctor, dentist, eye specialist, or out to dinner with my family without Fox News on their televisions or Rush Limbaugh on their radios. But the county I live in, Gwinnett, voted Hillary by several points. I’m using this information as light at the end of a dark tunnel to get out of the house and make some new friends.
In response to the outpouring of “let’s give him a chance” and “let’s come together” and “don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution”, I remind myself how outnumbered I am by people, including “friends” and “family” who think, act, believe and vote differently, with me – a liberal Democrat progressive Christian in the deep south. And that brings me to realize the number of humble, caring folks who’ve forward to explain themselves, open a dialogue, bridge the gap between ideologies, offer support and comfort to me and my worried, fearful family during a time of needful reconciliation. Then that made me reflective of how over the past 8 years, how many of them were self-aware and understanding of me, my views, my different kind of family and the President I liked.
Oh, I crack myself up. None of that has ever happened.
So the answer to “give it a chance” is no.
Oh yeah, The High Road. I’m supposed to live there. Double standards aren’t always funny.
Here’s Broken Bells.