The title of this post, minus the bit about the election, comes from a short story by Ernest Hemingway that I dubbed my favorite back when I was in eighth or ninth grade, for reasons I can’t remember. The narrator, who I suppose is a stand-in for the author, is sequestered in the hospital but neither dying nor seriously ill. The nun wants to listen to the USC-Notre Dame football game but is nervous about the outcome, so instead she keeps skedaddling into the basement to pray for victory for Our Lady. She also prays for “the bad ones,” meaning the gambler of the title and his cronies, who are Hispanic. Or maybe Russian. I haven’t read the story in a while.
I can’t listen to the radio these days because the news is too terrible to listen to. I can read the news, which somehow makes it easier to take, but listening to it is harsher because there is no control. The announcer reads the news, whatever it is, and you just have to LISTEN TO IT. With reading, at least you can modulate the information.
As I write this post, the whole world seems to be sitting on shpilkis, as we Jewish folk call it, over the election. Conceivably, the nervousness is the one trait that us liberals have in common with the Trump folk. Exactly why anybody would be concerned about Joe Biden as President, especially in comparison with the alternative, is beyond me. Really, I just don’t get it. We had Obama for 8 years and the country did not descend into anarchy; in fact, a lot of people made a lot of money. But nevermind all that. Everyone’s nervous and anxious. It’s not a good feeling.
Ernest Hemingway seems to belong to a different world. So does F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ella Fitzgerald, Ella Enchanted, the Wicked Witch of the West, Elizabeth Montgomery, Dicks York and Sargent, Sergeant Slaughter, Andre the Giant, and Willy Mays—a.k.a. the Say-Hey Kid, and the only one alive (among the real people) in this list. The scary part of this election is not just the Potential End of Democracy as We Know It, but the loss of all that good American stuff that came from it, and which I grew up with, all the way to the age that I have become and politely demure from acknowledging. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t watch YouTube Laugh In clips any more. I can’t even watch Seinfeld reruns. No one in these fictions cares about COVID-19 and Donald Trump, which seem to be all that anyone cares about now.
We need both the epidemic and Trump to go away, and fast, beginning tomorrow night. Is that too much to ask? Well, it might be, but I’m asking anyway. Praying might be the best thing to do at this point. The nun in the Hemingway story might have had the right idea, which is not a thought I entertained back when I read that story as a teenager. Enough with the news and the campaigning and the noise and the hope and fear. It’s time for prayer.
God bless the United States of America.