Books of riddles and jokes were a popular item with me and my little nerdy friends back in the middle Stone Age when we were in grade school. I remember jumping out of the huge barge we called a “car” as soon as its big stone wheels stopped in our driveway (and no need to unbuckle a seat belt – they hadn’t been invented yet), running into our comfortable suburban cave, throwing myself on my saber-tooth tiger rug, and digging into a pile of dead tree shavings we called “a book”. What joy.
Jokes are still popular, and most people will always enjoy a good chuckle. Riddles, however, have somewhat fallen out of fashion (unless you are a character in a Mythical Universe).
Here’s one that I remember being a puzzler.
A patient is rushed into emergency surgery. The doctor takes one look, and says “I can’t operate on this man. He is my son!” However, the doctor is NOT the patient’s father!
Riddle: who is the doctor?
After mentally running through all the possible candidates (stepfather, priest, Hamlet’s uncle) I still couldn’t figure this one out, so I asked for help. Mom put down her apron and mixing spoon in the kitchen, but she didn’t know. Sis paused while dressing Barbie for the prom, but nothing came to mind.
Years later, I decided to perform the same experiment on my own daughter. “Sweetie, can you solve this riddle? A patient is rushed…etc. etc…Who is the doctor?”
Fortunately, my daughter looked at me with the same expression as the home attendant looks at Grandma while saying “No, dear, you already had your breakfast today. Let’s have a nice walk in the park instead!”
“Ummmm….his…..mother?” End with eye roll.
I was delighted. Here was proof that American society had changed in mere decades. The word “mother” no longer automatically excluded all other professions. We could be doctors, CEOs, business owners, architects. Oh, sure, we still had to go home and make dinner. We still had to do most of the worrying about who was taking care of the children (the “don’t wake Daddy” mode of parenting), but our daughters no longer looked out into the world and saw a wall of men with silent, almost invisible wives standing behind them with perfect makeup holding a tray of cocktail nibbles.
That’s why it’s high time for us to have a female president. Europe and Latin America started electing women 40 years ago, so I’m totally ready for Hillary. If you recall your Star Trek lore, “Deep Space Nine” (captain was a brother) was followed immediately by “Voyager” (captain was a woman). As Star Trek went, so goes the country.
But don’t think I’m one of those desperate feminists who would vote for anything with a vagina. No, I like Hillary. She’s got baggage, but who doesn’t? I’ve got a few bags of my own, in fact. She’s got a hound dog for a husband, but love is blind. Hardly anyone’s husband can bear microscopic scrutiny: they’ve all got some unsavory habits best left alone. She’s a “Washington insider”, which just means she has had years of experience on the national and global stage. She’s “got her hand in Wall Street pockets”, which means she can stare down Goldman Sachs. Best of all, she’s “loud and shrill”. She has the piercing gaze of an eagle with a voice that carries, and she knows how to use both. She’s ready, I’m ready, the whole country is ready. And how beautiful that the candidate proposed by the opposing party is a cartoonish lout! I’m looking forward with glee to see her continue to eviscerate him in speech after speech.
So Bernie. Friend. Look into my eyes. Yes, I love you. You’re the best. You shook up the world, including Hillary. You’re true to your ideals. Your followers would go anywhere for you. Just don’t lead them over a cliff, because at the bottom of that cliff is a big black hole named “Donald Trump”.
Let’s fast forward to January 2017, when Hillary’s already taken the oath and settled in at the Oval Office. Bill’s on a short leash somewhere out on the south lawn with his handlers, taking care of Michelle’s herb garden. Secretary of State Elizabeth Warren is on her way to Mexico, Central, and South America for a goodwill tour while Veep Bernie Sanders does the same in the U.S. heartland. Solar panels and windmills cover the roof of the Pink House. Baby Charlotte is puking on the Lincoln rug. The markets are up, buoyed by a wave of optimism as Joe Biden announces a breakthrough in cancer research. Congress is making and passing laws again. Nine solemn justices sit ensconced in the highest court in the land. And somewhere in Southern California, a warthog with an orange hairball reluctantly takes the oath at the start of a fraud trial in the courtroom of Judge Curiel.