Stiff Drinks for ‘Those Damn Repelicans’

“Next thing you know,” the Southern Bushwhacker said with a chuckle, “there’ll be a woman in the Oval Office.” “Or maybe even a Jew,” I suggested.

During the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philly, I actually worked for the Republicans. At 2:30 each day of the RNC, I turned my donkey tail and ran a few blocks south to a defunct armory, where I bartended at the Republican party’s parties.

The highlight of my week of double shifts came on the day Jeb Bush spoke during an afternoon party. The governor of Florida looked like a bloated Dubya doppelganger as he took the podium, which was covered by colorful garlands. Governor Bush’s hair was parted on the same side as his brother’s, though his face looked less smug. I don’t remember the content of Governor Bush’s speech, however, because as he spoke, a pudgy Southerner began chatting me up while I made him a lime daiquiri on the rocks.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Colin Powell speak tonight down at the convention,” he said in a gruff drawl as I shook rum and sour mix together in my shaker. He wore a sweat-stained cowboy hat and a bolo with leather strings coming down through the nostrils of a silver steer skull. I was surprised he wasn’t raptly listening to Governor Bush’s speech, though few partygoers were.

“He should be a decent speaker,” I said, hoping for a tip as I strained his drink over ice.

“Just glad he’s not running for president,” the Southerner offered in a whisper.

“Oh, really, why’s that?” I asked, somewhat distracted by the oversize “Kiss me, I’m Republican” pin.

“Welp,” he explained, leaning a little closer as the strings from his bolo disturbed the spiral tower of cocktail napkins that I’d carefully sculpted at the beginning of my shift, “between you and me, he’s black.”

“Next thing you know,” the Southern Bushwhacker said with a chuckle, “there’ll be a woman in the Oval Office.”

For some reason, I thought of my Jewish grandmother, and what she would do in my place. She would probably have leapt across the counter and strangled him with his own bolo; this Republican stereotype, this poor excuse for a human being that I had actually served. Instead, I decided to kill him with kindness.

“Or maybe even a Jew,” I suggested.

He let out a belly laugh that he immediately stifled for fear of attracting too much attention. “Don’t even get me started!” he said, waving his hands over his head as he walked away, as if surrendering to his own bigotry.

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