An Election-Season Anecdote

I hate discussing politics, so I am not posting this for its – er – political value as much as its humor.

All commentary concerning contemporary politics will be ignored.

 

I made a joke to my mother the other day, but it fell flat. It only works if you consider the context. Daddy got it; I’m shocked Mom didn’t.

I am encouraging my parents to vote. My father is not even registered. He has only voted twice in his life (he was born in 1942). I cracked a joke that he should register and vote for Donald Trump. He understood my meaning and laughed appreciatively. Mom was confused by this uncharacteristic endorsement.

My father has only ever voted twice: For John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. “Mom,” I ask, “what do they have in common?” She starts to ramble off about their personalities and such. Dad is chuckling in the background.

“No, Mom. They both got shot. Daddy says that’s why he doesn’t vote: His candidates always get shot.”

I know the jest is in bad taste, but one can still hope.

However, that is not my anecdote. My anecdote is not mine at all, in fact; It is my father’s. I love hearing this story, because it is a little mystery. It triggered my appreciation for flashbulb memories. I used to go around asking older people where they were when JFK was assassinated, which led to many deep, intense conversations. I don’t remember most of these stories, but I remember the tone in which they were all conveyed.

Daddy’s tone is different. Because his story is a little different:

My father enlisted in the Navy for four years in the early sixties, stationed on the Bon Homme Richard. He did not get drafted for this reason (He says almost no one had heard of Vietnam at that time, and the Navy was not very involved). On November 22, 1963, he was on leave in San Francisco, playing Solitaire in a hotel room. The room phone rings, and he answers it.

“Robert, is that you?”

“Yeah?”

“I’m on my way up.”

My father is confused. He doesn’t have any friends in the area, and the voice did not sound familiar. A few minutes later, there’s a knock on the hotel door. He opens it,  and a man is standing there. They look at each other for a moment, confused.

“I’m looking for Robert,” the man says.

“I’m Robert,” my father replies, “but I don’t know who you are.”

“I don’t know you either. But have you heard? The president’s been shot.”

The conversation ends there. My father never got the man’s name, or figured out whom he was looking for, or anything. He says he went out into the city later that day, and people were walking around as if they didn’t know where they were going. No one appeared hysterical, just lost.

 

I love that story. I apologize if it didn’t amuse or interest you as much as it does me. If you have any flashbulb memories, I would LOVE to hear them, so please share in the comments, or tweet at me @JettimusMaximus.

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