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Cocktails with Cathy 

Things we didn't talk about

click to enlarge JESSIE HYNES ILLUSTRATION
  • Jessie Hynes illustration

Last Friday night, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and I did not go out for cocktails. We did not sip martinis and talk about poor people or the blind or bass fishing or abortion or all the acid we took when we were Deadheads crossing paths at various shows before Jerry died. We did not talk about Pavement or Public Enemy or Sonic Youth or all the other bands we loved so much when we were young, before we had to worry about crumbling infrastructure and socialized medicine and men trading their penises for vaginas and women trading their vaginas for penises and everyone saying "penis" and "vagina" constantly, all those college kids everywhere demanding safe spaces. We didn't talk about Cathy joining the Republican Whip Team in Olympia, or how she fought like hell to keep the word "Asian" from replacing "Oriental" in state documents, perhaps hoping one day to replace "Oriental" with "Chinaman." We did not talk about how she came into herself as she ascended, revealing her essential Cathy-ness once she landed in D.C. Proud. Conservative. Pliable. Buyable. Tripping her ever-loving brains out.

If we had gotten together, Cathy and I would have shared a bowl of cashews and a pitcher of Manhattans at the Davenport. We would've gone to Hogwash for Old Fashioneds or Durkin's for Blood and Sands or Boots for vegan hash and coffee. We would've talked about the old times, when doctors came to our houses and gave us check-ups and no one got sick, really, and everything was practically free.

But we didn't go out Friday.

We wanted to. I wanted to. Cathy probably wanted to, too. She likes to spend time with her people, especially if they buy their own health insurance or have an employer who does, like mine. Not that I need health insurance. Not that anyone does, really, except sick people and pregnant people and dying people and people who need to get things taken out — like spleens and tumors — or things put in — like glass eyes and wooden legs — or people who need shots and probings and Pap smears and colonoscopies, which I'm really not that into, to tell you the truth. I'm more like, Let's celebrate life!

L'chaim!

Anyway, I didn't call Cath to set up the sit-down. I didn't want to distract her when she had so much on her plate.

Actually, I did want to distract her. It's not only coal miners who deserve a day off every once in a while. Cathy needs a day off sometimes too, along with a sympathetic ear and a cocktail or some whip-its. Maybe drinks and dinner at Ruins. Or beers and a bag of Dicks. It would have been her call. I just wanted to serve her the way she's always serving us.

I would have given her plenty of time to unwind, to kick back and get real with one of her best constituents, the kind who does not give a single shit about health care, who is untouched by the hypochondria infecting everyone else today. We would've started at Central Food, out on the patio. I'm not exactly clear on my politics, but I do know I'm in favor of more for me. Mainly, I wanted to hear about the Republican Whip Team. I didn't think it would involve actual whipping, but maybe it was a way to incentivize good health, just the threat of a Republican whipping making insurance unnecessary. I'd been jotting down questions for her, like, why is everything so regulated all the time? Isn't it my choice if I want poison medicine or rotten meat or clothes made of broken glass or toxins oozing up in my basement or guns blowing up in my face?

Or, why is the free market so excellent, and why won't the government get off my back? Shouldn't all public land in the West be free for me to graze my cattle on and train my donkeys on and mine uranium on and build bombs on and do whatever else I want to do on it? Isn't all public land in the West actually mine?

I understand that we're a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, as you've pointed out, and a nation of guns, I might add. But why can't there be more guns all the time everywhere?

Also, how does one become a member of the Republican Whip Team? Are there tryouts of some kind? Do we get to wear uniforms and do routines?

Cath, do you ever drink whiskey out of a baby bottle?

And have you ever wondered why crippled people and the blind get all the good parking and tax breaks? Does that seem fair?

You've talked about our need in America to move from racism to gracism. That sounds pretty neat. I imagine a syrup bottle with Grace Kelly's face on it, and all of us realizing something about ourselves as a result of drinking that syrup, how we're really all the same person, but different. So why did Obama hate cops so much?

Cath, does it matter if poor people get sick and die? I mean, I know it matters, but does it matter matter?

Speaking of poor people, if someone wants to be whipped by the Republican Whip Team, how does one arrange that, exactly? Can anyone be whipped? Or are the whippings only for the poor? Or maybe for those rich people wanting to be whipped?

Speaking of rich people, in the 2010 election you beat Daryl Romeyn in a landslide — 177,235 votes to 101,146. Even more to your credit, you spent $1,381,220 on that election to Daryl's ridiculous $13,318. In other words, while each of your votes cost a handsome $7.79, each of Daryl's votes cost a pathetic $0.13. Nearly eight dollars a vote (you) versus 13 cents a vote (pathetic Daryl). Do you have any idea how money you are?

Is it true that taxes are to regulation as abortion is to gun control?

And if that is true, why can't America be run more like a business, where we fire people we don't like and sexually harass people we do?

Finally, are you tripping on acid right now? Is all of Congress tripping all the time, or is it more like an ongoing, never-ending, steroid/meth/gin rage?

I know that's probably too many questions, Cathy. And I know they were probably too heavy, when you're here at home, trying to chill with your peeps. Maybe we should've just had a couple of drinks and screamed Violent Femmes songs down by the river.

Still, it was fun not going out. I'm already looking forward to next time, when we can not talk about how much we love the people of Eastern Washington, which is why we have to do everything we can to take away their health insurance — transforming hurtful, socialist entitlement spending into economic-developing, freedom-loving tax breaks for the rich. Please do look me up next time you're in town and don't want to hang with the crybabies. I can't wait to not get drinks again soon! ♦

Samuel Ligon's most recent books are Wonderland and Among the Dead and Dreaming. He teaches at EWU and edits Willow Springs.


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