Stranger than fiction

Who's going to mow your grass when I'm gone

Tucked between an auto parts store, an abandoned building filled with video games, and a semi-defunct Tejano club, Tortilleria La Popular is no longer a purveyor of our city's favorite fatty carb, but the live/work space of Guy Hundere and Jennifer Davy. On Election Day, it functioned as a meeting place for 11 democrats of varying political involvement and passion and five dogs of varying size and manner.

(One of those dogs a very tall Republican who shall remain unnamed, and his Democratic mate left early, before the real weeping and gnashing started, to carry out their political debates in private. "Are you going to be all right?" he asked. "Is any of us going to be all right?" she countered.)

Maybe it was just the first chilly night of fall, or maybe it was true optimism, but the crowd arrived rather cheerful, bundled up and bearing wine and snacks. As we sat down with our burritos and steaming bowls of hot soup there was an air of anticipation, even hopefulness: Stranger things have happened than a change of season and a Democratic president. Miracles happen, people. And we were all just happy to be together at the Tortilla Factory, chattering amongst ourselves and chuckling at Jon Stewart projected literally larger than life on the living room wall.

How woefully short lived the fun: Stewart got us laughing, but in the end he left us weeping in our soup as Bush gained electoral votes and eleven states voted to ban gay marriage. At Bush 207 Kerry 188, half our numbers went outside to smoke, while the rest of us clapped our hands to our foreheads in pain. The host switched the channel and suddenly we were watching a 35-year old episode of Hee Haw. There were the Culhanes, stuffed onto a couch and delivering their country corn humor in hick monotone. Switching back to primetime, the cameras were in the living room of our once and future president: there was the entire Bush clan, cuddled up on the couch in front of the TV, looking a little too giddy and confident. We were not laughing at the coincidence.

At Bush 237 Kerry 195, everyone had gone pretty much silent, except the dogs, who were involved in their own election of sorts, trying to hash out alpha dog via the gutted pelt of an old stuffed animal. MSNBC was prattling on about Kerry's inability to comment on his faith and, back at Hee Haw, Buck Owens was singing, "Who's going to mow your grass when I'm gone," while a midget chased a couple of guys around a field with a tiny lawnmower. At this point, the screen was too big, the dogs were too loud, and it was starting to feel uncomfortably cold. A few people went home - taking a dog or two - while the rest of us poured another drink, unwrapped another Reese's, smoked another cigarette...

More comic relief: Portly Junior Samples tells a joke, "The way you become a politician is you put a bunch of marbles in your mouth and start talking. First one marble falls out, and then another. By the time you lose all your marbles, you're a politician." OK, the joke was about actors, but sometimes they are one and the same. It was about this time that we hit Bush 246 Kerry 211, and the Election/Hee Haw parallels were starting to make us all a little sick to our stomachs.

It was time to gather up our dolls and dishes and go. If Kerry had won, I had predicted, this would be the time when we would all be going home to make babies, a boom of hope children. Instead, we silently piled quilts on the bed and turned on National Public Radio, anxiously waiting for news about Ohio but knowing, in the pit of our stomachs, that it was over.


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