Met my next door neighbor last night at the mail boxes. (We're in the city, but our neighborhood still has remnants of the time when it was a rural outskirt - our mailboxes are clustered together at the curb.)
"Watching the Republican Convention?" he asked.
And I had to confess. I just don't have the stomach for it.
I used to watch everything. I don't remember having to leave the room when Richard Nixon came on the air. I wasn't much interested in what he had to say and disagreed with most if not all of it, but he didn't actually make me feel a little queasy.
I think that started with Ronald Reagan. I couldn't stand listening to the man - his treacly voice dripped with images straight out of a penny dreadful.
I didn't have half so much trouble listening to Bush '41. He had a drier delivery. Sometimes he made sense. He was tolerable.
I thought I had hit rock bottom with Bush '43, though. He sounded like someone who would sidle up to me at the bar and ask, "What's your sign," and I would have to leave the room in embarrassment. We had elected this guy? I didn't want to have a beer with him. I would have moved a couple of barstools down and hoped for better luck.
Rock bottom acquired a new underfloor at about the precise moment that Sarah Palin squirmed on board the McCain ticket. That voice! Those ridiculous statements about "real Americans"! I watched her convention acceptance speech and the vice presidential debate - both at the home of a Republican neighbor of mine, two doors down, who had decided that she preferred Barack Obama. Who sat through those speeches with her head in her hands moaning, "What has happened to my party?" I helped her drink her way through those evenings.
Was that the time I started having trouble with acid reflux?
I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Obama was elected. We had work to do. Let's get on with it. I couldn't wait.
Rush Limbaugh, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Eric Cantor - Just Say No. Nancy Reagan had nothing on these guys! And right on their heels came the Tea Party.
And here we are in the sub-basement of political discourse.
So no. I'm not watching. I'm cowering in the kitchen.
My neighbor turned away laughing. He's a Democrat, but he's younger and has a stronger stomach. He's doing his due diligence. Checking out the opposition. I'll ask him later if there's anything I really should know.