This week’s inductee into the “Overrated Hall of Fame” is … diners.
The other day, Barack Obama caught hell for getting snippy with the press while trying to eating breakfast. He was working on a waffle while the press jammed 87 microphones and cameras into his face. Of course, they hammered him for his rare loss of composure.
I don’t think it was the press that pissed him off though. He and the other candidates invited such nonstop press intrusiveness when he declared himself a candidate for president way back in, what was it … 2002? Or so it seems. No, I think he was hacked because he had to make yet another stop in a goddamn diner, because diners inexplicably have become the symbol of middle America and the average American. I think it’s a symbol of the typical American Dipshit. (Last census count: Too fucking many.)
Who the hell decided that the diner was representative of the average American? Give us a little more credit. The typical diner denizen is a far below average, the D-minus American, if you will. Think about it. The candidates always seem to hit the diner between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., looking for a stimulating give and take with the average Joe or Jane. You know where the average Joe or Jane is that time? They’re not eating a four-dollar plate of greasy slop that would clog the arteries of a grizzly. They’re at fucking work. Or watching their kids. Or in school. If you’re sitting in a diner on a Tuesday morning at ten o’clock reading the engagement announcements in the Local Boring Gazette, you probably don’t know what the hell the real issues are anyway, and I know I’m not interested in hearing your ungrammatical question about a non-issue like flag burning on that night’s evening news.
Maybe the fascination with diners is Hollywood’s fault, specifically Quentin Tarantino. His movies are filled with classic diner scenes where the characters dress cool and talk about cool shit like fucking Elvis and robbing diners. But in real life, most people in diners are not Samuel L. Jackson or Christian Slater. They’re more along the lines of Ed from two apartments down, the alcoholic loner who can’t hold a fucking job longer than six weeks, or Charlie, the octogenarian former security guard who is now posing angry questions about the candidate’s stance on the skyrocketing cost of those big wrap-around AARP sunglasses that seem to be mandatory eyeware for senior citizens.
Diner food is as overrated as the people eating the diner food. Sure, if it’s 3 a.m. and you’ve been drinking since 7 p.m., then diner food is tolerable. I’ve eaten many a grilled turkey bacon sandwich and fries after eight hours of drinking and a parking lot blowjob, and I have the scalding hot melted cheese scars on the roof of my mouth to prove it. But diner food is unhealthy, unsatisfying, flavorless shit. Yet these candidates, who have no doubt eaten in some of the world’s finest restaurants, have to pretend that they are just lovin’ to death that bacon-egg-cheese-sausage-scrapple deathwich they’re forcing down while they engage in what must be the most unstimulating conversation imaginable with unemployed handyman Buzz, whose trying (but failing) to formulate intelligent comments between bites gravy-drowned chicken fried steak. Because god forbid a candidate says he doesn’t eat that kind of food for breakfast. He’d lose the Disgustingly Unhealthy Fat Bastard vote, and in this country, that means election day death. (Then again, maybe these diner dolts don’t even vote. Come Election Day, they’re too busy sitting in the diner, eating the Election Day Red White and Blue plate special. It comes with bacon.)
Yet these are the people being pandered to and listened to. These people are providing sound bites between their bites of colon-clogging white toast, which is slathered with that chemically flavored unnatural goo that must be scooped out of a mini plastic container. (Note how the label calls it “grape-flavored” jelly. Ain’t a single grape used in the production thereof, I bet.) Then again, maybe these people do have some clout in the national debate. They are probably very interested in what the candidate intends to do to help those with diabetes, morbid obesity, high cholesterol, colon cancer and gunt tucks.
Instead of wasting time talking to the idiots killing time in diners, the candidates should stick to those silly factory visits where they don a hardhat and pretend to turn a screw or do whatever it is you do with a rivet, ratchet or wrench. At least they’re talking to people who are at fucking work. Talk to cops, teachers, firemen and other self-important whiners. At least they’re working folks. Visit a jury room. At least you’ll know those people vote, which is why they got suckered into jury duty in the first place. (But please, don’t talk to high school students. I really don’t care to hear the candidate’s view on “… like, what you plan to, like … you know … do about … like … all these perverts on, like, MySpace …who are like, always trying to like, get with me …”)
Here’s what I want to see on the news tomorrow night after one of the Big Three candidates visits yet another loser-filled diner in yet another podunk town in the middle of yet another redneck/heartland state. The candidate could ask Freda or Charlie a question such as, “Hi, I’m Barack Obama and I just forced down an egg and cheese sandwich and two sausage links that have me on the verge of puking into your hashbrowns bloated face. However, my lust for the presidency requires me to spend time in this godforsaken shithole and pretend that you are a well-read American who has the remotest grasp of at least one major issue facing this great country of ours. Do you have a question about health care, Iraq or illegal immigration?”
And the person would say, “What? Um, sorry, I don’t have time to talk. I just stopped in for a bran muffin and a decaffeinated green tea to go. I’d love to talk with you about your ideas on how to help alleviate the domino effect fallout from this mortgage mess caused by unchecked predatory lending, but I HAVE TO GO TO FUCKING WORK! I mean, I really wish I could squeeze into one those uncomfortable booths and eat the scrapple special and talk about the complexities of this illegal immigration issue, but I HAVE TO GO TO FUCKING WORK!” I bet even middle America-pandering Brian Williams could find a way to squeeze that priceless campaign moment into his Wednesday night newscast. He could sandwich it between two of the more important news stories that day: this month’s missing blonde girl and the 147th crying Virgin Mary statue.
But that will never happen. Instead, we’ll have to listen to another dumb diner-dining American pose questions like this: “Mr. Oh-bamma …my husband is laid up with a bad hip, and his INNsurance done run out, even though we was guaranteed four more years a-coverage. He lost his pension when the people who runned his company screwed up things so bad that the whole dang comp’ny went kaput. And them bastards ain’t even in jail or nothin’. I even seen one of ’em golfin’ with Bush on the news last night. My two sons is in the Army. One of ’em is still in Eye-rack, and he been there three tours and still ain’t got no bulletproof vest. My other son lost a leg over there, but the V.A. keeps fighting him on what’s covered and what ain’t. I can’t afford to go see him but once every two weeks, what with gas-o-leen over four bucks a gallon. So I has a question about something very important, something that will help me determine if I’m gonna vote fer ya.
“Why ain’t you wearin’ no flag pin your lapel?”
Ned Bitters is, in fact, overrated. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.