Dion: What it's like to be stuck in the middle
By Marc Munroe Dion
Tonight, the wind is blowing hard where I live. I like that because it makes my office seem cozy. I don't like that because it scares the life out of my cats, and because the lights keep flickering.
I'm like that about a lot of things, a man perpetually stuck in the middle, always feeling like a spy in someone else's country.
The vice presidential debate was raging, but I wasn't watching. I had to work. This, of course, makes me a hardworking man. The job comes first.
But I'm writing a newspaper column, and that makes me suspect as a worker. No doubt
If you saw me the other day, an older white man in jeans and a flannel shirt, standing in a convenience store playing my wife's lottery number for her, and buying a quart of American beer, you'd have known me for what I'm not.
White? Older? Flannel? Quart of beer? Lottery?
Redneck. High school diploma. Trump supporter. Back the Blue. All Lives Matter.
And if I told you I have a master's degree in English lit and spent 40 years as a reporter?
Elitist. Communist. Hillary backer. Lives in an all-white suburb but won't stop puking out his sympathy for ethnic minorities he never sees.
But I can't be a communist. I have money in the stock market, and I live in a city, and Black people live down the block and my next-door neighbors are from Africa and don't speak English very well. I dislike Hillary Clinton nearly as much as I dislike Donald Trump.
Still, others of my white-skinned, flannel-clad tribe often say terribly racist things because how can a man who looks like me not think the way they think? In newsrooms, other "degreed professionals" often said startlingly bigoted things about working-class white people on the theory that we weren't "that kind" of white person.
And, in truth, having grown up in working-class communities in three states, I do dislike the kind of spurious toughness and the pride in ignorance I lived with all my young life. I understand it, and I like to sit at a bar with it, but I think it holds us back the way gang culture holds back a lot of young Black men.
I know where I came from, and I know what brought me to where I am now, which is a place where quarts of beer are as appreciated as books of poetry, and as needed at the end of the day.
I don't think you can always pull yourself up by your bootstraps, but I was a reporter long enough to know free money is addictive.
Not that it matters much. Money paid in welfare doesn't get invested in the stock market. It gets spent. Right away. It buys diapers and drugs, food and tattoos, acrylic nails and milk and a new Mercedes for the guy at the top of the local cocaine pyramid. It's a river of sales taxes.
And I am not fond of Joe Biden because I don't think he'll make a darn thing better. At best, he'll keep things steady, but steady pays my mortgage. That's one hell of a weak endorsement.
I dislike Donald Trump intensely because he nurtures every foolishness and bigotry of the culture that raised me.
I missed the vice presidential debate because I had to work, and when I was done, I drank a quart of beer and read a book about Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac.
The wind blows hard in the middle.
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