The McCain of My Dreams

In our hurried and frantic Starbucks-fueled culture, it’s unfortunate that we often don’t have the time or the attention span to carefully weigh facts. Facts such as those posited to us through low-production presidential election ads. This is unfortunate for many reasons, but the main one is because we desperately want to better know these individuals. You know, sit down with them for a chat, and have them buy our over-priced Starbucks for us in hopes of endearing themselves long enough to secure our vote.

Sadly, this will never happen for most of us, largely due to the simple fact that if they actually embarked upon this strategy for reaching out to voters, the campaign season would last weeks, possibly even fortnights longer than it does now. And the amount of time they’re spending now feels just about right, so let’s not mess with a good thing.

But imagine my good fortune when I got the chance to spend part of the day just hanging out with John McCain. Well, “day” is perhaps a little misleading, as it actually happened at night. Actually, this was a dream I had. But it happened just moments before my alarm went off this morning, right at that twilight twinkle of the netherworld between wake and slumber, where you know you’re just in a dream, but your brain decides “What the hell, let’s see how this plays out.”

But I don’t want the fact that this never actually happened in the real world to detract from the lessons I learned about the man by actually spending time with him. Good quality, imaginary time. Time that shouldn’t have to worry about minor details like ‘reality’ to validate its message.

And here are the lessons I learned, in dream-sequence order.

  1. John McCain runs. A lot. – When I first met up with him, John McCain was going for a brisk jog outside on his treadmill. He was fielding questions from reporters, because John McCain apparently likes to multi-task, and there’s no reason why he can’t keep his heart-rate up while he’s meeting the press. Cindy was, as always, by his side. On her own treadmill, that is, because the couple that jogs together (outside), stays together (also outside). It should be noted that John appeared to be in great shape. I know he’s in his 70s, but watching his lean Navy figure pound that artificial pavement, he looked every bit a younger, 65-year-old war vet. Cindy, on the other hand, couldn’t quite keep up. Which is sad, since she wasn’t even answering questions. All she had to do was run in place on the treadmill and smile and wave. Doesn’t seem that hard…
  2. John McCain drives a cramped automatic roadster. – You think John McCain doesn’t care about the environment? Well then how do you explain the fact that he was driving a very small and fuel-efficient compact in my dream? Now, he’s not a crazy, tree-hugging oil sipper driving around in a hybrid or even a stick-shift. No, John McCain doesn’t need to show off. He just wants to save our natural resources one long-burning tank at the time.
  3. John McCain isn’t in a hurry. – I noticed that we kind of took our time going from one scene of my dream to the next. John seemed very casual about the whole thing, like he had our day well planned out with plenty of time for idle chit-chat. I’m not sure the political application here, but it struck me as something I should remember once I woke up.
  4. John McCain doesn’t need bodyguards. – It also struck me as odd that there were no bodyguards, assistants, or anyone else hanging out with us. It was just me and the McCainster, hanging out like people in dreams often do. Or at least they used to, back when dreams were simpler, and people took the time to really connect with one antother, without a wall of secret service mumbo-jumbo getting in the way. You know, good traditional values kind of dreams. I liked that about John McCain (in my dream).
  5. John McCain doesn’t use a PDA, day planner, iPhone or grocery list. – While we were in the car, and I was desperate to make conversation, I decided to comment on how relaxed the whole day seemed to be going. I marveled at how he had the whole schedule under control but didn’t seem to require the aid of any time-management crutch. He explained to me that while he was a prisoner of war (yes, he went there, even through a question about time management), he could only rely on his hearing to collect and process information. It sharpened his concentration and memory skills. I decided to let it go at that.
  6. John McCain eats at country club buffets. – I don’t want to hear any cracks about his age, because there is nothing wrong with a good golf club/rotary meeting buffet. The selection is good and the price is right. This was John’s pick for lunch. It was a good enough pick for a war hero and it’s a good enough pick for America.
  7. John McCain doesn’t care for soccer. – While we were going through the buffet line, I again wracked my brain for topics of discussion (I mean, what do you ask a potential leader of the free world while you’re going through a buffet line, anyway?). So I landed on sports. He’s a big fan of football, and could take or leave baseball, but turns out he doesn’t really care for soccer. I mentioned that it was a good international sport, but he waved me off, as we had reached the salad bar.
  8. John McCain feels ok borrowing condiments from other tables. – It was after he had finished his salad, but before tackling his baked potato (he’s a sensible senior). I mean, what’s a potato without some fresh ground pepper? He excused himself for a second, walked a couple tables over and grabbed a pepper mill. At the time that showed real leadership.
  9. David R. Perry doesn’t eat in his dreams. – After the pepper incident (we’ll laugh about it someday), he commented that I hadn’t touched my food. I felt bad about this because I’m sure it must have seemed rude. After all, here John McCain goes to the trouble of personally taking me out to lunch at a nice red-state country club buffet, and I don’t even have the manners to finish my salad? But I couldn’t eat. I wanted to eat, but I couldn’t actually do it. I had never thought about it before, but after waking up I tried to think back to a time when I had ever eaten in a dream, and I came up with nothing. Odd.
  10. John McCain elicits little conversation from David R. Perry. – It was frustrating not being able to come up with good questions to ask him. I remember feeling ill prepared, that I should have been able to think of either items of small talk, or even policy questions to take advantage of my one shot to get responses from the man himself. But nothing. John McCain may not need an organizer, but I do.

After this, I woke up, both frustrated and relieved. The lunch was good, don’t get me wrong, but a little stressful. Perhaps it was the suddenness of the whole affair, as I hadn’t really expected to be eating with John McCain that night (in my dream, remember). But I came away with a much better (imagined) appreciation of the man. He came across as very cordial and down to earth (again, in my dream) and someone I wouldn’t mind catching up with again for a (pretend) beer or something. I will definitely cast a vote for him in my wildest dreams.