I try to stay away from politics in any form of social media. I’ve seen people so ready and willing to give everyone a piece of their mind, that they have little remaining. But gazing across the current political landscape I can’t help but comment and to shake my head and say, “Really, Is this the best we’ve got?”
Feeling a little down and hopeless, I remembered this incident in John Steinbeck’s brilliant, light-hearted novel, Sweet Thursday. It brightened my day, hopefully it will also provide a brief escape for you.
A sequel to Cannery Row, this story takes place after WWII as the characters are returning home from the war.
First, an introduction to some of the characters:
Hazel, one of the bums. Steinbeck describes Hazel’s mental status like this.
“Hazel was in the Army long enough to qualify for the G.I. bill, and he enrolled at the University of California for training in astrophysics by making a check mark on an application. Three months later, when some of the confusion had died down, the college authorities discovered him. The Department of Psychology wanted to keep him, but it was against the law. Hazel often wondered what is was that he had gone to study. He intended to ask, Doc, but by the time Doc got back it slipped his mind.”
Fauna, the madam of the local whorehouse, who gives horoscope readings.
“It was a matter of some sorrow to Fauna that she didn’t entirely believe in astrology, but she found that nearly everyone wants to believe that the stars take notice of us. Her science gave her a means for telling people what they ought to do, and Fauna had definite ideas about what everybody ought to do.”
Hazel had been pestering Fauna for some time, to give him a reading. On to our story …
“You got my stars wrote down?” Hazel demanded anxiously.
Fauna regarded him sorrowfully. “I don’t want to tell you,” she said.
“Why not? Is it bad?”
“Awful,” said Fauna.
“Come on, tell me. I can take it.”
Fauna sighed, “I’ve checked it over and over,” she said. “You sure you give me your true birthday?”
“Then I don’t see how it can be wrong.” She turned wearily and faced the others. “The stars say Hazel’s going to be President of the United States.”
There was a shocked silence.
“I don’t believe it,” said Mack.
“I don’t want to be President,” Hazel said, and he didn’t.
“There is no choice,” said Fauna. “The stars have spoke. You will go to Washington.”
“I don’t want to!” Hazel cried. “I don’t know nobody there.”
“I wonder where we could all go,” said Whitey No. 2. “I seen some islands in the Pacific that was pretty nice. But hell, Hazel would have them too. The U. S. got a mandate.”
“I won’t take it,” said Hazel.
Mack said, “We could kill him.”
“His stars don’t say it,” Fauna said. “He’s going to live to seventy-eight and die from a spoiled oyster.”
“I don’t like oysters,” said Hazel.
“Maybe you’ll learn in Washington.”
Mack said, “Maybe you made a mistake.”
“That’s what I hoped,” said Fauna. “I went over and over it. No sir! Hazel is going to be President.”
“Well, we’ve weathered some pretty bad ones,” Eddie offered forlornly.
Hazel, Hillary or Donald, I don’t think it makes much difference. Being a fictional character, Hazel is unlikely to receive either party’s nomination. Sadly, Hillary and Donald are not fictional. They may be walking caricatures of themselves, but they are very real and one of them will likely become the next President of the United States.
But the Republic is strong and as Eddie said, “We’ve weathered some pretty bad ones!”
As it turns out, Hazel miscounted the number of toes he had. With that new information Fauna revised Hazel’s reading and to everyone’s relief, Hazel was not destined to become President.