It was the Saturday before the mayoral election in the Windy City, and my wife and I were in Chicago running errands. Once a month we make our escape from the desolate cornfields and head to the Second City for shopping, groceries and dinner. Over the years we have started to buy organic, so we always hit Whole Foods Market on North Avenue before heading for home. When we arrived, the parking lot was so jammed packed that it seemed like they were giving away food.
I was already in a pissed-off mood.
After spending ten minutes behind some idiot trying to parallel park, we finally got situated and in to the store. We grabbed a cart, pushed through the crowd, and started filling it with lettuce, organic carrots, green onions, red peppers, and tomatoes. At the meat counter, I ordered a few pounds of veal and chuck for making beef stew. Just when I started to head toward the dairy case, a man called out to me. “Sir,” he said. I figured I had dropped something.
I turned to him and he stuck out his hand, and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Rahm Emanuel, and I am running for mayor of Chicago.”
I squirmed when I noticed he was missing part of one finger on his hand.
I said, “What?”
He repeated, “I’m Rahm Emanuel, and I am running for mayor.”
Now, seriously pissed off, I responded, “Are you for real?”
I assumed it was a joke. Some guy was messing with me. “Yeah, sure you are,” I said sarcastically.
Even if he was Rahm Emanuel, I don’t like politicians. They are congenital liars, thieves, greed heads, and demagogic pimps. Most of these rat bastards would sell out their own mothers to get to the top. I call this my “shit floats” theory. They are worse than drug dealers, because when you buy dope, you usually know what you’re getting: Dope doesn’t take bribes, dope doesn’t seduce interns, and dope doesn’t sell out to oil companies.
I looked him over and he didn’t look like the stuff that Chicago’s mayor were made of. He was short and his head was too large for the rest of his body. He looked like some joker whose wife had sent him to the store to pick up a loaf of bread and some eggs. He wasn’t even wearing a suit. He was wearing a sporty-looking brown leather jacket, a nice sweater, a pair of jeans, and running shoes. He looked nice, like a Northsider on his way to dinner. Worse yet, he didn’t even look Irish: no pot belly and no shillelagh. How was he going to run this town?
But he said it again, “I am Rahm Emanuel. Do I have your vote?” He even looked serious, flashing his Mediterranean eyes. I said, “Look, man. Don’t fuck with me. I don’t have time for this bullshit. If you want to mess with people, start over in the health food section.”
Off I went.
My wife asked me, “Who were you talking to?”
“I don´t know who he was. Some idiot trying to tell me he was running for mayor.”
I pointed him out to her, which he was taking to some lady buying cheddar cheese. She seemed to know him. Later, a tall black man in a suit seemed delighted to see him. The two of them appeared to have a secret Chicago handshake. And, several others walked up to him and shook his hand, and they weren’t even freaked out by it.
About then, my wife said, “Yeah, that’s him. He is Rahm Emanuel; the guy who is running for mayor. He used to work with President Obama in Washington.”
I still wasn’t buying it.
Of course he was pimping votes on the North side and on the Gold Coast. He wasn’t going to bother with the south side, the Bark of the Yards, or Little Village. Most of the residents, the Windy City’s working class, were illegal and couldn’t vote even if they wanted to. I have to admit, though: the guy had moves. He was graceful and cat like, like a ballet dancer in the middle the I-90/94 expressway. He also was good looking, and his eyes told me he was a born schemer, a brutal politician that would always land on his feet.
Maybe Rahm was going to be a good fit in a town that was run by the Outfit. His father ran with the Irgun back in Israel, and his mom was a bouncer at a rock-and-roll club and pushed civil rights on the side. He wasn’t wearing a leather jacket for nothing.
When others cleared out a bit, I sheepishly walked up to him and asked, “Are you really Rahm Emanuel?”
He smiled and said, “Yes, do I have your vote?”
I responded, “Yes, Mr. Mayor, you do!”
Satisfied, I turned away and headed to check out. I figured that in the end it didn’t really matter in the end. If he could run for mayor in a town in which he didn’t live, I could vote anywhere I wanted. In Chicago, I might even vote two or three times.
Welcome to the Windy City!
Love it, Jimmy. It reminds me of when I used to live in the city; there was a recidivist/perennial Republican candidate who I believe was actually a clown by profession (children’s parties, etc.) I actually voted for him out of disrespect for Daley — kind of a creepy and poetic protest vote. I wish I could remember the guy’s name (I think his pro-clown name had “sunny” or “sunshine” in it, but I honestly can’t remember).
Great piece, Jimmy!