It's Tuesday night at midnight, and Jean, a woman with long, blond, curly hair, sits at a table inside Blondies on the Beach (229 S. Atlantic Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). This long, casual, beach-bum bar is so heavy on the recreational offerings of pool, darts, and video games that it doubles as an adult arcade. Jean is less-than-conservative in tight blue jeans, a sports jersey with the shoulders cut out, and brown, clunky-heeled sandals. Next to her sits a short, stocky man in a baseball cap.
"Forgive my intrusion," I begin, "but who are you guys voting for in the presidential election?"
"Bush," the woman replies.
"I'm so happy that you said that," he says, and throws his arms around her. "We just met," he informs me.
"It's a turn-on that she's voting Republican?" I ask.
"I dated a woman who was a Democrat. She was from Eastern Europe, and I just couldn't take it anymore."
"I want Bush to finish up the mess that he started over there," Jean adds.
Doesn't this woman know the stock advice given to women all across the country? Honey, hear me now and believe me later: Men never change.
The man adds, "Kerry protested the war in Vietnam. How could he do that when there were soldiers over there fighting?"
"Well," I argue, "he was a veteran."
"I'm a veteran too," he replies. "I served in Kosovo."
Next, I trekked on to the long, sparsely populated front bar of Blondies, where I bumped into a petite woman who was in good humor on account of the Red Sox beating the Yankees.
Who is she voting for in the election?
"Bush," she says. "I just don't like Kerry. He's always going back and forth on everything."
She must have noted some disappointment on my face. Or maybe it was just Republican angst.
"I'm sorry," she says. "I'm sorry I'm voting for Bush."
"That's OK. Are you loaded?" I ask of her financial status.
I follow, "That seems like a good reason to vote for Bush... So," I change the subject, "between the candidates, who do you think could beat whom in an arm-wrestling match?"
She answers, "Kerry could beat Bush. He's a wimpy little guy. He can't even speak." So much contempt for her preferred candidate, but she says, "I just don't like Kerry. I don't like him."
Later, a couple sits at the bar totally engrossed in conversation. The woman with soft brown eyes and a wealth of curly hair is wearing a Ramones shirt. Her male friend, also of dark hair and eyes, says I can call him "Jack Me Often." He also says, "I am voting for John Kerry."
The woman, "Jill Me In," replies "Kerry" as well.
"You should be articulate," Jack says, criticizing Dubya. "I don't think he's a stupid person. I just don't think he's a good public speaker."
OK, fine. I come 'round to the serious questions, "Who's wife is hotter?"
Jack replies, "I don't think either of them are hot."
Jill says, "I saw Kerry's wife in person. She's better. There's the ketchup fortune."
The couple says they find no significant difference between the candidates. If there is one, Jack notes, it's that, "Bush is more for his buddies. But government is not for the people anymore."
I return to the small, crowded back bar of Blondies, where I meet 26-year-old Kyle, a Bushie.
Asked why he favors Bush, the young man replies, "I like somebody who can tell me what I don't want to hear... Kerry's always been full of shit. Yeah, Bush is a moron, and he smiles like an idiot when he talks..." He adds, "If there is a change in tax policy, I'll get killed."
"So," I ask, "who would be your ideal candidate?"
Kyle replies, "He would speak as good as Kerry and do what he says he's going to do."
All right, all right. On to the important stuff. "Who's wife would you rather sleep with?"
"Bush's," he answers.
"So, on a scale of one to ten, how badly do you want to sleep with Laura Bush?"
"One. No, five."
I follow with, "Do you think that she looks sexually satisfied?"
"Absolutely," he says. "Bill Clinton, despite the fact that he's a Democrat, is my hero. He's the perfect Republican. Bill Clinton would bang anything that comes along, and he won't deny it. That's a president."
Another question. "In hand-to-hand death combat between the presidential candidates, who do you think would walk away?"
"Bush would kick his ass," Kyle says. "Bush piles logs. Have you ever seen Kerry on skis? Bush is an idiot and a moron, and his dad runs the country, but he's still a person, not a fucking yuppie. I'm a yuppie in a cashmere sweater, and I still make fun of Kerry."
Another question for Kyle: "If God were to inhabit the body of an American citizen on November 2, who do you think he'd vote for in this election?"
"God would write in Howard Dean 'cause he was straight, and he didn't care if you liked what he said -- he'd yell it anyway."
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OK, Kyle, which candidate would you rather drink with?
"I think it'd be more fun watching Bush get drunk. He's so stupid sober. Can you imagine that guy drunk? Kerry's so stupid you can't even follow his conversation sober. And Bush just laughs and smiles like an idiot."
As I take leave of Blondies, I pass the Republican couple, entwined on the bench, practically spooning. "Do you think Bush would approve of this type of behavior?" I ask.
They chuckle. "Probably not," the man says. "Maybe we should be liberals."