I was walking out of the Vienna Metro station yesterday, after a long day doing whatever it is government workers do. I was hot and tired, and eager to get to the parking garage so that I could climb into my vintage 1988 Suburban and make my way to the sanctuary of the Paco Command Center as quickly as possible.
On passing through the exit, though, I encountered a young woman holding a clipboard, obviously engaged in collecting signatures. She was a fresh-faced girl, probably a college student, who, in modest attire, long hair tied back with a ribbon, and steel-rimmed glasses, looked like a schoolmarm in the larval stage. She asked me sweetly, “Would you like to express your support for President Obama’s health care plan?” I didn’t, of course, but I figured it might be interesting to hear her explain it to me. Unfortunately, she was unable to cast any more light on the subject than the president himself in his press conference the other night; however, she held her clipboard out in such an abjectly pleading way - all doe-eyed innocence and rosy cheeks - that I agreed to sign her petition.
Now, there have been several times in my life when I’ve found myself in the position of having to provide someone with a fake name on extremely short notice. I don’t know why it is, but I never seem to be prepared for the contingency, and this occasion was no different. My mind went blank for a few seconds, so I fumbled with the pen to stall for time, and then bunged down the first name that popped into my head (absurdly, I’m afraid, “Algonquin J. Calhoun”).
Condemn me if you will, but, as I say, I was hot and tired and the girl was an extraordinarily cute little airhead; in weighing this act of perfidy, bear in mind that I have sent a score of emails to my (and quite possibly your) elected representatives under my real name, damning Obama’s health care plan and any elected official who would actually vote for it. On the other hand, if Obama Care, or something like it, ever becomes the law of the land, and the linchpin of the legislation’s successful passage turns out to have been the signature of one Algonquin J. Calhoun, then I pledge to fall on my sword.