Lisa Guerrero: Between Barack and a hard place
I woke up this morning unusually early. Normally, I don’t like to see the light of day till the crack of noon, but today was gonna be special. I threw on sweatpants, put my hair in a ponytail and grabbed my favorite T-shirt out of the dirty clothes hamper. ... I really have to do laundry today.
At the ungodly hour of 9 a.m., I cruised into the parking lot, which to my surprise was pretty full. Didn’t know the people of Malibu were up this early. Must be surfers.
Then, with a smile on my face and a Starbucks in hand, I headed over to the post office to begin my patriotic privilege; today I would register to vote.
I walked in the door and was shocked to see a line of a dozen or so seniors holding letters or mailing boxes. Man, I thought, old people are early risers. Guess they were surprised to see me too, because they all turned around to stare at me and give me dirty looks. It took me a second to figure out why.
I was wearing an Obama ’08 T-shirt.
The older gentleman in front of me looked particularly disgusted. Donned in a USC sweatshirt and what appeared to be a '70s-style trucker hat with a Rams logo on it (that he presumably bought during the Jack Youngblood era), he was none too pleased with my getup.
I was none too pleased with his breath.
“Obama, humph,” he grunted, then turned back around with his back to me. Under his breath he muttered, “Silly girl.”
Mind you, at my age being called a “girl” is a compliment, but he obviously wasn’t referring to my youthful looks. I could’ve let it go, but if you’ve been reading my blogs so far, you’ll know that I didn’t.
“Excuse me ... what did you say?” I asked.
He turned around and looked at me.
I said, "How 'bout those Rams?"
He said, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
At this point I suppose I should’ve just taken a sip of my café mocha and left the old man to his memories, but instead the rest of the conversation went like this:
Lisa G: “They really stink this year, huh?”
Old man: “Well, (grumble, grumble) coaching changes, bad draft picks. Jim Haslett will do just fine. Next season ...”
Lisa G: (feeling bad for the guy) “That’s right, maybe they can turn it around, but too bad they’ve got the Redskins this week.”
Old man: (pauses, looks at me suspiciously) “You a Rams fan?”
Lisa G: Yep. I used to cheer for them in the '80s. I was on the field when Dickerson broke the record. ... They weren’t any good back then either, but he was fun to watch.”
Old man: (still suspicious) OK then missy, who was your favorite Ram?”
Lisa G: “Easy one -– Vince Ferragamo. My dad preferred Haden, but Vince was the one that got 'em into the Super Bowl in '79.”
Old man: “They lost.”
Lisa G: “Plus, he was cute.”
Old man: (laughs) “So, you like sports.”
Lisa G: “Um, yeah.”
Old man: (turns away for a while, we scooch up about 18 inches in line, then he turns back around to face me, looking down at my T-shirt.) “You know what that fella’s full name is, don’t ya?”
Lisa G: “Barack Obama.”
Old man: “Barack HUSSEIN Obama.”
Lisa G: Actually, it’s Barack Hussein Obama the second, but your point is?”
Old man: (whispering loudly) "It’s a terrorist name.”
Lisa G: (stunned for a moment not believing that some people actually believe this. I gather myself.) “Are you a Lakers’ fan?”
Old man: “Well, sure.”
Lisa G: “Did you like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?”
Old man: “Well, yeah, but that’s different. He won six championships -– a great Laker.”
Lisa G: “If Barack was a great Laker, would you forgive his name?”
Old man: (laughs) “You got a point, missy.”
We wait in line in silence for the next three or four minutes. I was actually starting to feel pretty guilty –- after all, this man grew up in a different generation with another set of values and fears. I was just about to say something to him when he stepped forward to the counter to mail his package.
In a minute, I moved to the counter to be helped by the woman on his left. He finished his business, then walked toward the door, but turned around.
Old man: “Are you a Dodgers fan?”
Lisa G: “Of course!”
And then he took two steps toward me and kissed me on the cheek.
Old man: “We’ll get 'em today, right, honey?”
Lisa G: “You betcha!”
His breath wasn’t really so bad after all.
Lisa Guerrero has covered Super Bowls, NBA championships and the World Series, along with the Oscars, Emmys and Grammys. As an actress, she has appeared on "Frasier" and "The George Lopez Show" and as Billy Baldwin's long-suffering wife in the film "A Plumm Summer," which she executive-produced.