Greek-American Stories: Best and Whorst Candidates

“I don’t like listening to the radio, lately or watching TV either, with all those candidates chirping like crickets about what they’re going to do if they’re elected,” Dimos admitted, stirring his coffee with vigor. “I want to know what they’ve already done to deserve our vote! Newspapers don’t print much except when they’re involved in some sort of scandal. Who cares if he’s a racing fan fanatic or has his shirts imported from Paris?” Yiannis agreed, adding about one in particular, “what’s he done in his years in office? Not much that I know of. He’s out of sight. You never see or hear much of him until election time comes around. I heard one of his speeches where he says, ‘I stand on my record of having done as much as I can for our town,’ which happens to be almost nothing.” George looked at Yiannis with that malicious grin. “You should run for mayor, Yiannis. You have those qualifications.”  Ignoring him, Yiannis preferred to reach for a donut. 

John grinning said, “on TV candidate Adam Best says, ‘I have the distinction of having made much needed improvements by ordering new carpeting for our City Hall.’” They laughed. George looked up. “Adam Best? Isn’t he the one who got rid of the pigeons that clogged the city hall’s roof? I saw a photo of him with a group of contractors, pointing to the roof. He always calls the press when he does something. Keeps in the public’s eye.”  John thought about it.  “Yeah! That’s him! Well, you can’t say he’s done nothing.” George said, “the question for me is what does he intend doing in the future? A new carpet is Ok, but he can’t just expect votes for having chased away pigeons. Besides, they come back after a while.”

Dimos, reaching for the last donut, said, “the way he smiles on TV after the election you never see him smile anymore. In fact, we never see him at all. Now, he’s everywhere, shaking hands at the subway entrance, kissing babies, eating in Greek, Italian, and Chinese restaurants, telling the reporters each place is his very favorite, has his wife make a brief appearance, then, sends her home. He knows how to get attention.”

Kipreos disagreed. “Not true! Oh, he meets people. I’ve seen him several times at the hotel where I work, with a young, pretty model lady wearing nice clothes, lots of jewelry. They were holding hands, drinking wine. Gives her gifts, too. He’s very generous.” John’s brows lifted. “What? He’s a married man with kids!” Dimos tried to reason. “Could be his wife!” George, the cynic said, “what husband holds the wife’s hand, drinks wine, gives her gifts after a century being married?” John countered, “maybe he was interviewing a new secretary. We shouldn’t make judgments.” Kipreos, after some thought said, “Dimos may be right. Maybe his wife is a model.” 

Dimos asked, “who else is running for office?”  Kipreos informed, “there’s a man named Dan Whorst. And, a woman called, Helen Clifton.” Shaking his head, Dimos pondered aloud, wonder what they’re about?” George said, “well, Whorst owns a lot of real estate. I read that he’s anxious to buy the low rent building on Fourth Street. That building is a dump.” “Sure!” Piped up Yiannis. “He got rid of the super. That’s why it’s a dump. Now, he says the area needs a new look, a hotel maybe. He tells the TV cameras, ‘want the best? Pick the Whorst.’” John’s head snapped up.  “Hotel?  We don’t need another hotel! We need more affordable housing.” Waving his hand George said, with a note of sarcasm, “nah! What are you saying John? No money there. A hotel brings tourists, CEOs and big money, for him! And, who knows? Maybe, with big money he can run for office.”

Looking grim, John asked, “what about that woman? What’s her name? Clifton?” Kipreos replied quickly, “Oh, she’s been at the hotel too, talking to a lot of important people; contractors and CEOs and Wall Street guys. A best customer. She orders nothing but the best. Great tipper, too. I heard she may go to Washington, D.C. You should see the money she hands out! Then, she leaves in a limo.” A silence fell over them. After a long moment’s thinking, George said, “Maybe Morris isn’t so bad after all. Our City Hall is decorated nicely with that new red carpet. With him, the only ones who’d worry about the future are the pigeons.”


JANUARY 22ND: On this day in 1788, Lord Byron (née George Gordon Byron), the famous philhellene, poet, and satirist, was born in London, England.

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