These are significantly challenging times for a columnist like me.
OK, I know. Cry me a river. Times are tough all over, and honestly they're tougher for a lot of other folks than for me. Again, introverts who hate crowds, have a Netflix addiction and a net for hitting golf balls into are kind of built for this.
The problem, at least from a "columnizing" perspective, is the same issue lots of comedians have had for the last few years. That is, either "I can't make this funny" or the source material is so obviously absurd, it has its own punchline and I can't charge a two-drink minimum or build an HBO special around just repeating it.
The thing is, these are serious times and I'm not a serious columnist, as I think we've all determined. Serious columnists get paid to express their serious opinions seriously. All I've got is hopes and wishes. And a few stories about the cows in the pasture over the fence. An endless source of amusement, at least for me.
So here, as this election that seemed to go on forever takes a lifetime to wind down, are my hopes. Because we all need hope. And cow stories only go so far.
I hope (wish for, crave, need) boring. Water Commission meeting-level dull. Books-about-chess dull. White-bread-and-mayonnaise-sandwich boring (though we're staying away from the "ketchup or mayo on fries" controversy).
An oft-quoted Chinese wish that is actually a curse is that you get to live in "interesting times." These times are so interesting I'm losing interest. I'd like, at least, the subtext of the answer to the question "What do you want to do today?" not to be "Try not to contract a deadly virus through casual contact with complete strangers and wind up sedated in the ICU with a bunch of tubes sticking in me. And, maybe, I don't know, wash the car."
I'd like every disagreement not to turn our nation into a 330 million-plus person version of the "Housewives of ...Wherever," complete with table flipping and drink throwing. And maybe a little less plastic surgery.
And my desire for boring (which my children probably find appropriate, if not completely indicative of much of my life) goes beyond the pandemic. I want boring politicians. Deadly dull. Know what Twitter is, but only use it to send out pictures of their dogs in patriotic costumes or the biggest bull at the state fair (again with the cows!).
Colorado Sen. Mike Bennet was, briefly, a candidate for president. Yeah, I know, if you blinked, you missed it. But at one point, Bennet tweeted (because, I guess he didn't have any pictures of dogs or big cows) "If you elect me president, I promise you won't have to think about me for two weeks at a time."
Now, he didn't say which two weeks, though I'm thinking he was definitely a little more sweeping than literal in his pronouncement. And, apparently, that's not what America (or at least the Democratic party) was looking for at the time. But given recent events, I'd take it now in a heartbeat.
See, the thing is, speeches are uplifting but governing is ... dull. It's incremental change made after much study and consensus building. You want decisions made quickly, drive on ice. You want a government that works for everyone, prepare for a few yawns.
One of those tropes I cringe at usually comes from some business owner who makes what I'm sure he believes is the unique observation that, if he ran his business the way government is run, he'd be broke. Well, that's probably true, but if he ran government the way he runs his business, he'd have rioting in the streets and an angry line out the door of every public meeting.
A friend of mine who used to be a city councilman said the thing with government, at least on the local level, is everyone has a phone, a pothole and a neighbor with a barking dog. And while he ran to solve big problems, well, he had to govern to solve all the little ones. Especially the boring ones.
Here's hoping that this week and the counting will finally draw to a close, and win, lose or tie, we can all settle down and return to our normal activities, like observing the cows and complaining about the officiating in the Auburn game.
And let's hope that government, and the world, go back to being a little more understated, a little more thought out, a little more polite and colloquial.
You know, a little more boring.
Gary Smith is a recovering journalist living in Rogers.