I was in the hardware store under the tracks by 36th Avenue the other day. The one where the owner or main worker is a middle-aged, liberal, dog loving, some'er teeth, former punk kind of guy (only in New York!).
Dire Straits "Walk of life" was on the radio and I mentioned how I loved that song when it came out... and how today he sounds more like a Bruce Springsteen wannabe.
Then we started talking about Springsteen. It took me years before I liked Springsteen (till hearing "Nebraska," to be precise). Right about then a very clean-cut older guy came in and overheard our conversation. I noticed, as he interrupted, that his belt holding up his shorts and tucked in shirt was perfectly straight around the circumference of his big belly:
"Springsteen, Born in the USA. You ever hear the lyrics?"
No, and, er, that's not what we were talking about.
"'Put a rifle in my hands/Sent me off to Vietnam/To go and kill the yellow man.' How about that? Yellow man!"
Silence. (though those are interesting lyrics)
"You know what it is about Vietnam?"
No. But I bet you're going to tell me.
"We could have won that war!"
"Yeah, we could have won that war if it weren't for... communists and their sympathizers. Sympathizers born right here in the USA!"
You know, I thought we lost 50,000 men over there because it was a fight we kept fighting even though we couldn't win. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you lose. Especially in another country's civil war.
But what do I know? I was barely alive. Maybe the problem wasn't conditions over there but people over here who were against the war. Maybe we just needed more troops and few more years to really beat those bastards.
Kind of like the war on drugs. Or Iraq. To think that liberal ol' me may be responsible for brave young soldiers running over IEDs and not the draft-dodging politicians who sent them there in the first place. (Don't judge patriotism by service! Judge it by flag pins in the lapel!]
It's always easier to blame others than admit you were wrong.
But I said nothing. This guy was already on mindless autopilot mode. Standing in front of an ACLU sticker shouting about communists and their sympathizers ruining this country.
I took my box of garbage bags and continued biking home.