Pancakes with Huck? He’ll always wonder
But there was one particular event…
Don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t exactly a slacker, me with my miniature tape recorder and my digital camera and my (nondigital) notebook. I saw Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama deliver dueling speeches to ecstatic Democrats, and I saw Obama field questions (and T-shirts, and hugs(!)) at a town-hall meeting. I saw John McCain tout his conservative credentials to the GOP faithful at a traditional Milwaukee fish fry. I saw Chelsea Clinton reveal her inner wonk to a roomful of college students.
I even saw Michelle Obama offer her soon-to-be-famous line about how “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country,” and my antennae went up—not because I didn’t understand what she was trying to say, and the context in which she said it, and if you had 10 minutes I could probably explain it to you so that you’d understand it, too, but because I also understood how much easier it would be for someone to shove the line into a 30-second attack ad, or onto YouTube, which means that if Obama does become the nominee, we’ll be seeing it approximately a million times between now and November.
But that’s not the event that eats at me either.
There was one particular event I missed, one major contender I never saw: Mike Huckabee at The Original Pancake House.
It could have been wonderful, but I’ll never know.
There it was, in the local paper: 7 a.m. Friday, Mike Huckabee at The Original Pancake House. I’d never seen a presidential candidate at a pancake house—Original or otherwise—and here was my chance, just a short drive from my house.
But 7 a.m.? Was seeing Mike Huckabee really so important that I’d be willing to get up before the sun did, and in the dead of winter, to wrestle myself into multiple layers of thermal something-or-others, to pray that the car had another cold-weather start left in it, to find a parking space that wasn’t obliterated by a snow bank?
I was torn.
“What if everybody thinks the same way I do?” I fretted. Then poor Mike Huckabee would get to The Original Pancake House smack at the crack of 7, and there’d be nobody there to shake hands with! Nobody to toss one-liners at. He’d be so lonely. We’d all be so embarrassed. I couldn’t let that happen, nosiree! And if it took me becoming a one-man Welcome Wagon to prevent it—well, that’s what I should do.
But what if I got out there at 7 a.m., and I was the only one there? It would be just me and Mike Huckabee, and a whole hour to kill. I’ve never spent an hour alone with a presidential candidate. What would I talk to him about?
“Pass the syrup”?
“Some weather, eh?”?
“Tell me about the Fair Tax”?
“Do you think the Tall Stack evolved from the Silver Dollar pancakes?”?
I could see it going badly.
But I still wasn’t sure. So I set my alarm for 6-something, just to give myself the option. And then 6-something arrived, much too quickly, and the alarm went on and I clicked it off, and I—rolled over and went back to sleep.
Forgive me, Huck.
Maybe the next time I’m in Arkansas?
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.