A graffiti artist has been painting images of Gerald Ford along Interstate 196, a highway named after him in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
I propped myself up on one elbow to see if my wife was asleep and, hearing her gentle snore, I slid out of bed, slipped into my Dockers Signature Classic-Fit khakis (pleated-front), pulled a Tommy Hilfiger black t-shirt over my head and, carrying my Fred Perry Vintage Plimsole White/Cloud Grey Tennis Shoes, eased my way out of the bedroom for a night of Republican Party tagging–that’s illegal graffiti vandalism for all you spray paint neophytes.
I’d been doodling in the back pages of my Brooks Brothers Appointment Book all week at work, trying out a few new designs. I was working on “Put Ron on the Rock!”–a screaming red, white and blue manifesto that featured The Great Communicator added to the four presidents (Republicans already have the most with two!) on Mt. Rushmore, but it was complicated and I didn’t want to risk arrest by taking on a tag that would take too long. I would want to get Reagan’s Wildroot Cream-Oiled hair just right. That’s the artist in me–I’m a perfectionist!
I’d thought about doing something with a “Keep Cool With Coolidge” theme, especially since “Silent Cal” was so . . . pithy. “Da Biz of Da US is Biz”–I could get that up quickly, but would people miss the allusion to the last President who balanced the budget? You can never be too sure–some people I meet still think Nixon was guilty!
I like Mitt Romney, don’t get me wrong, but saving an Olympics isn’t exactly the D-Day Invasion. Among GOP “taggers,” Romney has zero street cred–when he wins his second term, then we’ll talk, even though he apparently has a son named “Tagg.” I was thinking of “If Ike Were Alive, Iran Would be the 51st State,” but I hesitated. Would Mamie find that boastful?
I tiptoe down to the basement to pick up my “cannons”–my spray paint. The guy at the town hardware store gave me a suspicious look last Saturday when I bought 54 cans. “You’d save money buying by the gallon,” he said. “Money’s no object, my good man!” I said in my best cheerful suburban country squire hale-fellow-well-met fraternity rush chairman voice.
Young Republican taggers.
“But why all the different colors?” he asked. “You can’t mix spray paint, and if you have a large surface to cover . . .”
“Bomb,” I inadvertently corrected him–that’s how “down” I am with “tagger” lingo!
“Insect bomb,” I said, wriggling out of a tight spot. “I just remembered I need to get an insect bomb, too. Damned cats have fleas!”
“Okay, sure,” he said as he led me over to the pet section. That was close.
Anyway, he forgot my little slip, and I stashed my ill-gotten goods down in the basement while my wife was at Pilates, the 21st century woman’s bowling night. I sneaked (snuck?) the cans out the bulkhead, slipped them into my Lexus and headed out to the “Gerry” or “Ford Corridor,” two of the monickers me and my GOP tagging friends have thrown up on I-196, which is what the non-graffiti community calls it.
“I can’t believe you’re going to smoke that thing.”
I’ve decided to work with a Ford theme because he’s unique among all Presidents, not just Republicans. He’s the only one who was never elected either President or Vice President! Think of that–a bloodless, colorless coup by the only man to occupy the Oval Office who was both a male model and a football coach! Beauty and the Beast–in one pair of pants!
I pull into the breakdown lane and check out a few “heavens”–places so high up and out of reach that no one will ever take my “tag” down once I “get up.” I put on my emergency flasher and flip through my black book, trying to decide which of Ford’s many felicitous phrases to put into my piece.
Let’s see–there’s “Whip Inflation Now.” Nah, the Fed says inflation’s under control. How about–”I am a Ford–not a Lincoln.” Or an anti-bailout motif–”Ford to GM: Drop Dead!” Nope, probably want to stay away from auto industry tags–that’s Obama’s game.
What else we got, I say to myself. “I watch a lot of baseball on the radio“–hmm, that’s a possibility.
Wait–I’ve got it! A gigantic “piece” celebrating a Mitt win in November, with Ford looming ominously in the background saying–
“Our long national nightmare is over.”