“To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. ‘Can I interest you in the chicken?’ she asks. ‘Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?’
To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.”
~ David Sedaris
This quote from David Sedaris is from a New Yorker article from 2008, when Obama won the presidency, and the “platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it” was Senator John McCain. It all just seems so quaint now, right? Think back twelve years ago when the republican candidate was telling voters his opponent was “a decent person” who people didn’t need to be scared of, and correcting a voter when she called Barack Obama “an Arab” and then took the microphone away from her. Watch this…
You can see the crowd starting to turn on his attempt to hold onto a thread of decency… Some of them starting to long for someone to whip their fears into a frenzy of hatred and anger. It makes me realize that Trump is less a disease than he is a SYMPTOM of a disease. Knowing what we know now, imagine describing that meal choice in those terms. John McCain looks like a damn Angus filet compared to the actual pile of shit and bits of broken glass we have to endure right now.
And yet here we are once again, six months away from an election that will 100% result in ONE of TWO white men in their 70s being president, and will most likely be decided by how many people decide to either stay home, or vote for a third party candidate, or write in their neighbor’s name, or Cap’n Crunch or Newman from Seinfeld or Smurfette — All of whom have the exact same chance of winning the election: ZERO. So I’ve been thinking about David Sedaris’ airplane analogy, and — as awesome as it is — where it falls short is that the only person who has to eat the shit & glass is the person who ordered it. And that’s not the way it is. Anyway, I’d like to tell you a short story, inspired by his analogy, to explain why people who decide to vote third party are the absolute worst…
A hundred people boarded the plane — 52 women and 48 men on an American Airlines flight around the world. They were in for a long trip. After the plane took off, the flight attendant got on the intercom… “Ladies and gentlemen, we will be serving a meal on today’s flight. We took an online survey to determine what the two options will be, and it turns out the choice will be between Chicken and… [checks notes]… A Platter of Shit with Bits of Broken Glass in it. Wow… Well, I guess that’s what we get for opening things up to online voting. Apparently, many of the voters wanted to point out they made their choice… [checks notes again]… ‘to own the libs.’ Either way, those are the choices we are stuck with.”
She went on. “Unfortunately, due to the design of the plane, we really only have enough space to prepare ONE of these two options. So we will be taking a vote to decide whether our meal choice will be Chicken… OR Poop with Broken Glass.”
This was not the first flight of this type. There had been 58 trips like this one happening once every four years since before there were planes. Many times there were two decent choices for meals. Many times the choices couldn’t have been more starkly different.
The flight attendant was a student of history. She knew that — historically — only about 55 of the people on the flight even bothered to vote. It had been over 50 YEARS since that number topped sixty voting passengers. She had seen this before. Four years ago she was on a flight like this one — one with similar choices for meals. On that flight, 26 people voted for Chicken, and 25 people voted for a big ball of blood & semen & toenail clippings… But somehow — because of a very old rule designed to give white people more weight with their vote — the big ball of blood & semen & toenail clippings actually won (it should be pointed out that the chicken was a HEN, and many people didn’t like the idea of having THAT as a meal… Many thought hens were for making eggs — NOT meals on flights).
Before the voting took place, people had some passionate discussions. Some folks thought that eating a Platter of Shit with Bits of Broken Glass would lower the cost of flights. There were a few poor souls who actually seemed to enjoy having Shit & Glass for a meal… They thought that meal would make this flight GREAT. Some people pointed out that people eating a Platter of Shit with Bits of Broken Glass was responsible for over 62,000 deaths over the last month & a half. Many people were like, “HOW IS THIS EVEN A DISCUSSION?!? One of these options is literally A PLATTER OF SHIT WITH BITS OF BROKEN GLASS IN IT!”
Other folks started speaking up… One man said, “I don’t really like EITHER of those choices. I’m just going to sit this one out.” One lady asked if the poop was from a meat-eater, and seemed annoyed that there wasn’t a vegetarian option. A passenger in first class said, “ACTUALLY, this decision doesn’t really affect me, because I have a Yeti cooler with about $90 worth of sushi in it that I’m going to be eating either way.” One bro angrily shouted, “I WANTED STEAK! AND BY GOD, WHEN IT COMES TIME TO VOTE, I’M VOTING FOR STEAK!”
The flight attendant spoke up and said, “Yeah, I’d probably rather have steak as a meal too, but — and please hear me — STEAK IS NOT AN OPTION. And not only that, but you should know that the Board of Equine Rations & Nourishment In Eating (B.E.R.N.I.E. for short) has endorsed Chicken as the best meal for this flight.”
Still, many were committed to voting for a third option — One that had absolutely no chance of winning. Other passengers started speaking up. A younger girl stood up. You could see the outline of her ribs through her T-shirt. She said, “Listen, some of us in here are actually hungry. I haven’t eaten anything in a day, and if people vote for fish or steak or any friggin’ meal other than chicken, it could have very real effects on hungry people like me.” An old man stood up and yelled, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!! THERE ARE VULNERABLE PEOPLE WHO WILL LITERALLY DIE FROM A PLATTER OF SHIT WITH BITS OF BROKEN GLASS! THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO VOTE FOR A TUNA SALAD SANDWICH JUST BECAUSE CHICKEN ISN’T YOUR FAVORITE MEAL!” The bro who demanded steak had already put his headphones back on…
Before the vote, they did some polling. Even though Chicken was slightly in the lead, it was close enough that one or two people voting for a meal that had no chance of winning might end up causing the whole plane to stink like shit. Some were frustrated that — with so many meal options out there — they couldn’t have found a more appetizing meal than Chicken. Some marveled at the fact that things had gotten so bad that we found ourselves in a position where people might actually vote for a Platter of Shit with Bits of Broken Glass over a relatively decent, flawed, sort of creepy, yet somewhat bland, meal. And for some, the fact that it was even close made them want to just give up…
If people want to work on changing the system so that there aren’t only two legitimate options, feel free to work on making that happen… But voting for a Reuben sandwich that ISN’T ON THE MENU isn’t going to bring any of us any closer to that goal. It’s only going to force a lot of folks who are desperate for a good meal to go hungry and get hurt. There are a whole lot of other people on the flight. Please. Don’t be the person whose apathy… or whose lack of logic… or whose political purity tests… or whose unwillingness to lower your standards a bit ends up forcing the rest of us the eat shit.
And bits of broken glass.
I am so very thankful to you for reading this post… I hope it helps you clarify your thoughts, and I hope you share it with someone who is talking about casting a vote for anyone other than the only person who can keep us from having SECONDS on a platter of shit with bits of broken glass as a meal. Thank you also to Carol, who left a tip after my previous post. So very kind… This virus has got me out of work for a while, so if you love this blog, and you’d like to help support my writing, you can BECOME A PATRON… Or you can LEAVE A TIP ON PAYPAL or Venmo a tip to “chris-boeskool.” Otherwise, please follow me on Twitter and on Facebook.