Like some women from yesteryear who acquired pretty sets of panties with the days of the week delicately embroidered on them, a couple of months ago I bought a bunch of “Bernie Sanders for President” T-shirts in different colors, one for each day of the week. Although I know Bernie does not really stand a chance against Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for the 2016 presidential election, I feel that the longer he stays in the race, the more Hillary will be forced to move left of center, perhaps even take on Bernie’s life-long crusade against millionaires and billionaires, with his raging battle cry against the country’s top 1% for owning over 90% of all the wealth in America.
I’ve been wearing my Bernie T-shirts everywhere, sometimes over heavier turtlenecks when the weather is cold. The reception I’ve been getting varies greatly, depending on where I am. At the farmer’s market in Lawrence or Dean & Deluca in Overland Park, or Trader Joe’s and the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, I get smiles and lots of thumbs up. At musical events at the Lied Center in Lawrence, or the Folly Theatre and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, people look at me quizzically, then move away discretely. But not in Chicago.
I was in the Windy City this past weekend, seeing a couple of operas at the Lyric, for which I dressed properly, because I had been forewarned on television about all the street violence and shootings there.
Early one morning, however, wearing one of my Bernie T-shirts, I found myself sharing an elevator with a couple in the tony Allegro Hotel where I was staying. One isn’t supposed to look at people in elevators, so I didn’t. But I did note out of the corner of one eye that, early though it was, they were dressed as if for an evening party, or maybe just returning from one; that the woman was much older than the man; that she was wearing around her neck artificial pearls the size of Christmas tree ornaments; that the pancake on her face was so thick she had better not smile or we would all crack up with her; that she looked like Marlene Dietrich just before she died.
In any case, as the elevator door opened on a floor before mine and the couple started to leave, the man glowered at my T-shirt and muttered darkly under his breath, just loud enough for me to hear: “More power to the one percent. We earned it, and we get to keep it!”
To which I replied meekly, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
He gave me the finger and, before either of us could reach for our guns, the elevator door shut and I was able to return to my room without further incident, where I replayed the rather surreal event in my mind several times and slowly began to “Feel the Bern.”