Jimmy Carter

I liked Governor Carter. Things seemed to go well during his term. When he ran for President, I would have voted for him, but I was too young. He seemed to be a perfect president. Some people complained about inflation, but, to me, the bank would just give me higher rates for letting them keep care of my money.

Then Carter did what I considered a mighty bad idea: he gave away the Panama Canal. Why should the United States relinquish its territory? We are a lot stronger than those Panamanians. So when I turned eighteen, I voted him out of office. I think I voted for Ed Clark, a libertarian, because, as a devoted Southerner, I could never vote for a Republican--that was the party of Abraham Lincoln, the warmonger.

As I have grown up, I think I understand the benefits of turning the canal over to Panama. The people there look at us mainly as land thieves. Some people may cite loss of income from ships passing through the canal, but they are forgetting that we now have airplanes.

Mr. Carter seemed to devote himself more to the work of the Lord after his presidency. His political rôle to-day is that of peacemaker. He was never like those war-happy Republicans.

I had never met Mr. Carter personally, until I saw The chance. As I was reading the comics, I glanced over the opposite page of the newspaper. Jimmy Carter would be autographing his works of poetry at a bookstore down in Atlanta.

I was really excited. But I felt as though I couldn't tell my wife, since she was a bit partial to those Republicans.

The signing was advertised as being from 7:00 to 8:30. I figured there'd be a lot of people--I wasn't really sure how many. As I drove up about 6:45, I saw a line all around the side of the building. There were cars parked all along the street with the no-parking signs. Lots of nearby businesses were filled with cars.

First I had to actually buy a book. I bought two copies of his new book of poetry. I sorta wish I had gotten more. Anyway, the line to get the book was long. The long line weaved by the Star Trek biographies of Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura (who remembers their real names?). I saw Handel's Messiah. I paid my thirty-eight dollars and sixteen cents for the two books. The cashier tried to give me two bucks extra back in change. The guy behind me deemed me stupid for pointing out the error. This was the same guy who had to move his car earlier because he had blocked the driveway to the bookstore; his sin had been announced over the PA system.

After getting the book, I got to go stand in the big line for the actual signing. I didn't know quite how long the line was. It wrapped around the building, line weaved through three rooms of books, and finally, came to the President.

But I was still outside. I saw a tow truck taking away a car from the parking lot of the Nationsbank across the street. Others parked there scurried over to move their cars out of the lot lest they be towed, too. Nationsbank is mean. Not only do they tow away cars in their lot; they just added one of those stupidity fees for withdrawing money from their automatic teller. I used to have an account with C & S (Nationsbank's predecessor). I got the account there because of their advertisement that they pay their posted interest rates on the money on account, unlike other dishonest banks which would sometimes pay only 88% of their posted rates. One day I got a notice that said something like this, "We, too, are joining the trend of the fibbing banks and will discount the interest we pay you." I closed my account as soon as all the outstanding cheques cleared.

But I diverge from my story. Let me return. I'm standing in line. In front of me is a woman by herself. Behind me is some couple excessively embracing each other. It is a bit cool, but not too cool.

The woman in front told me that her uncle was Jimmy Carter's roommate in school (maybe the naval academy?)--or something like that. She said some other stuff, too, but I can't recall everything. She said she had an aunt or something who would witness to people at drug parties. The aunt would always accept drugs she would be offered; she didn't use them; she just wanted to "take them out of circulation". The woman in front of me also told of her going to Venezuela once.

The couple behind me seemed too pre-occupied with themselves to talk too much. We came to the line at about the same time, and I think they were thinking that I broke in front of them. In retrospect, I think I really did, but I didn't view it that way at the time.

I entered the front door. The line was barely a third of the way through. Somehow, I had passed the woman, too, and there was now a Japanese girl in front of me. She may have been in high school. I never talked to her, but she snickered a lot. She was looking at a book entitled something like Things Women Expect of Men but Won't Tell Them. After she put the book down, I just glanced at a single random page. It said something like, "Every man over 21 years of age needs to shave every day; evening appointments require you to shave twice that day." I thought about myself. I don't like shaving, but I do most days so I don't inspire others to puke as a response of social disgust. On Saturdays, I don't shave since it is the Sabbath. I try to abide by the Nazarite vow on Saturdays: no hair cuts, no grapes or wine, and no carcases. Around one of the turns in the weaving of the line, I returned to my original position.

Eventually, I got close. I could see Mr. Carter. I could see men in suits around him. The whole event was being rushed since there were so many people. The man of the couple behind me said he thought a hundred thousand people might see him to-day, but I thought he was stretching the truth a little.

I walked passed the man in the suit. A woman took my two books and opened the front binding so that Mr. Carter could quickly scribble his signature (without personalisation). I heard the woman in front of me mentioning her uncle (or whoever that was) to Mr. Carter. He said that he remembered him from the Naval Academy in his stately Southern voice. I was too thrilled to say anything, until he first said "Hello" to me. I was shy, but I still said "Hi." I think I threw in an awkward "Good evening." Mr. Carter remained dignified with a big (but not too big) pleasant smile. I forgot to say "Thank you."

I was really thrilled. It was such an honour to see the President. I didn't shake his hand. Maybe I could have, but I dared not ask. I felt good.

Go back tomiscellany menu
Go back toCurtis's home page