The Jacksons – for Nov. 20, 2008

Darkness had fallen several hours earlier and a cold wind howled through the branches of the giant elm tree in the front yard of the Jackson house. Inside however, all was warm and cosy, the dining room light shining brightly on the four people sitting around the table. Andrew and Rose were there, of course, along with their good friends, Grant and Karen.

“Dang, that’s good,” said Grant, savouring a mouthful of cookie before lifting his cup for a sip of coffee. “You make a fine chocolate chip cookie there, Rose.”

“Well, thanks,” said Rose. “I appreciate the compliment, but unfortunately I didn’t make the cookies. Jennifer did.”

“She has a good teacher, obviously,” said Grant. “What’s your secret?”

“Butter,” said Rose. “Real butter. That’s all it takes. You want people to rave about your baking, just forget margarine or cooking oil. Use real butter and people will think you’re a five-star chef.”

“Well, there you go,” said Karen. “Grant never met a pound of butter he didn’t like.”

“I wasn’t fond of that unsalted stuff you brought home last week,” said Grant. “Although it was OK once I salted it.”

“Yikes,” said Andrew. “You’re gonna give yourself a heart attack there with all that butter and salt.”

“Nah,” Grant disagreed. “It’s a family tradition. We all eat lots of butter and live to be 90. Knock on wood,” he added.

There was a lull in the conversation during which Grant reached for another cookie, but it was Karen who spoke to break the silence.

“Well, that was something last night, wasn’t it?” she said. “Did you guys watch it on TV?”

“We watched the hockey game,” said Rose. “But we watched the election during commercial breaks. That election coverage was a bit much after awhile. But that guy on CNN, boy, he loved his electoral map, didn’t he? He could move stuff around and expand things and shrink things and colour things different colours. And all just by waving his arms around like a Pentecostal preacher. It was interesting, that’s for sure.”

“I was surprised by how involved I got,” said Andrew. “I didn’t think it really mattered that much one way or the other who won, because I figured they could have elected Homer Simpson president and it would have been an improvement over what they had before. But I was actually happy Obama won.”

“Happy for who?” Karen wanted to know.

Andrew gave that a moment’s thought. “Happy for Americans,” he said. “I mean, they elected President Bush fair and square, but still, after awhile you just feel like they deserve a break.”

“Don’t we all,” said Rose.

“You think it’ll really make a difference?” said Grant. “Does it ever really make a difference?”

“If Al Gore had been president when the twin towers went down, would America have invaded Iraq?” said Rose.

“Probably not, I guess,” said Grant.

“So obviously it makes a difference,” said Rose.

“Unless you vote in Canada,” said Karen,

“where every candidate promises to maintain a slightly different version of the status quo.”

“Good point,” said Andrew. “I wonder what it would take to get Canadians as excited about an election as the Americans were yesterday?”

“Maybe if we had a prime minister as bad as George Bush,” said Karen.

“Or a candidate as bright as Barack Obama,” said Grant.

“Barack Hussein Obama,” said Rose. “I heard one guy interviewed who said that no matter how much he liked Obama’s ideas, he just couldn’t bring himself to vote for someone named Hussein.”

“At least his name’s not Barack Hussein Osama,” said Andrew. “No amount of Internet campaigning would have made up for that.”

“No kidding,” Grant agreed. “Speaking of Internet campaigning, I suppose in 20 or 30 years we’ll probably start having candidates who know how to use computers and then we’ll be getting campaign spam along with all that other spam.”

“More spam, just what everybody needs,” said Rose. “I suppose they’ll be offering bigger government in 60 days, guaranteed!”

“Never trust a spam guarantee,” said Karen, “especially if it comes from a politician.”

“Well, regardless what role the Internet played in the whole story, it is pretty surprising to see a black man headed to the White House,” said Grant. “I did not think America was ready for that. I would have bet that at the last minute, too many people just wouldn’t be able to bring themselves to vote for him.”

“Good thing you’re not a betting man,” said Karen, “because that wasn’t even a close vote.”

“Even the Supreme Court would have a hard time giving that one to the Republicans,” said Andrew.

Rose raised her coffee cup. “I propose a toast,” she said. “To democracy, to freedom, to equality, and to the day we put an Aboriginal in the Prime Minister’s Office.”

“Hear hear,” said Andrew. “I’ll drink to that,” said Grant. “I’m right out of coffee,” said Karen.

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