When I walked by the kiosk on our campus quad and saw that it was stacked with books that had Dick Cheney’s face and the words ‘Son of Satan’ on them, I knew I was in for a treat. I just didn't know how delicious it would be.
Bob is one of my calculus students and a person who makes me roar out loud laughing. Some might think him a strange fellow with his dry, self-deprecating humor, his imposing height, his somewhat stand-offish demeanor, not to mention his Lyle Lovett inspired hair. I know I did, but that was before I had the pleasure of getting to know him.
Bob saw the pamphlets lying on my desk. The students who ran the kiosk had tried to get me to donate to their Hate-All-Republicans-Love-Only-Lyndon-LaRouche cause. I told them I’d think about it if they gave me some of their reading material. And I could see Bob eyeing them.
“You ever heard of this guy?” I ask.
“Yeah, he’s been running for president every year since about the time Nixon was elected.”
“Humm. I must have missed him,” I said.
“Is he out of jail?”
“Yeah, he seems to spend a lot of time in jail. Gosh, I thought this was your politics.”
“No, I just picked them up for laughs,” I admitted.
“I’m a closet Republican myself. Being in California I have to be careful how loudly I say that.”
“The fact that you read the Wall Street Journal every day kinda tipped me off,” I told him.
“Really? I’ve been trying to cut back on news. My mom says I become depressing to talk to the more news I watch.”
“I know exactly what you mean, it’s so easy to get sucked in to cable news shows."
“Oh, I’m not addicted to cable news. It’s C-SPAN. I used to watch the Senate for hours on end. But now I'm forbidden."
“Don’t you hate it when your mom takes away your C-SPAN?” I teased.
This conversation, this Bob, is just too good to be true. I never know what he's going to say. But whatever it is he says it with an impassive face, drooping eyes and a somewhat nasal intonation, which somehow makes it even funnier. I stuck the LaRouche magazines in a big envelop so no one would see him with the scandalous material. “We’ll compare notes at class,” I told him.
A couple of hours later I caught up with Bob outside our classroom. “I felt like I had to read these by flashlight under my bedcovers so no one would see me. You’ve got to read the stuff on Lagrange.”
“The mathematician?” I asked, incredulous.
“Yeah and the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra. You’ve got to read about how it can be used to explain something or other about existential societal influences.”
Once I recovered from this gem I asked him about the sections that compare Republicans to Hitler.
“Oh, I always like those. It’s usually the sign of good and logical intellectual argument.”
We talked and laughed for several more minutes.
Tonight when I got home I asked John if he’d ever heard of Lyndon LaRouche.
“Yeah. He’s the perennial candidate for president from the Libertarian party. I like him. He’s the only presidential candidate I’ve ever sat in a room and had a conversation with.”