“Boy, sure will be nice round about this time next year when President Trump is gettin down to making America great again. ‘Course, you people probably won’t be too happy I reckon” he said as he leaned back against the filthy gas pump; wiping the sweat from his brow with a folded-up Guns and Roses bandana. The statement hung in the air like a brick sailing towards a plate glass window in agonizingly slow motion. Of course, on the surface of things the idea was simply ludicrous; a bloviating nazi shitnugget like Trump could no more make a nation great again than he could run a fucking airline or hustle marked-up vodka to octogenarian New Yorkers. Unfortunately, something about the dull, soulless look in my newfound friend’s eyes told me that any attempt to explain this would be largely lost on him. The quiet hum of flowing gasoline provided an awkward soundtrack to our one-sided conversation as the man sized me up suspiciously across the empty service station lane. I cursed inwardly, having hoped to avoid any interactions whatsoever with the goddamn inbred, hayseed locals while I was this far from home. It was too fucking late now; our atmosphere was becoming too intense and Jethro the mutherfucking gas station wonder pundit was clearly expecting some sort of reply.
“The show has just started my friend, it’s a long election season coming up I figure” I replied, casually slipping back into my old Midwestern vernacular. I felt it was important that Cletus and I bond for a moment; if only to reduce the chance that he’d try and cave my fucking skull in with a lug wrench over our perceived differences. These are dark and sinister times in America; there are a lot of mad, desperate sons of bitches thrashing around in the feculent runoff left behind by obscenely rich plutocrats and their paid puppets in the public service. The country has become a mutherfucking cauldron of lawlessness and inequity; as social safety nets and the old order of a working class society came crashing down like a tweaking meth addict locked in a holding cell over a long holiday weekend. By now, everyone knew that our brave new world was a raw fucking deal, but the questions of who was responsible and precisely what the fuck to do about it remained a passionate topic of open debate amongst the proletariat.
“Naw, I reckon that there’s a storm coming across the horizon real soon friend,” he said, sliding casually off the pump and closing the distance between us slightly. “Regular folks are tired of libtards, feminazis and illegals fucking up the country; when Trump wins he’s gonna put all you faggots back in your place and make us proud to be American again. It doesn’t mean jack shit that the election isn’t until next fall, Trump is already skull fucking the polls and destroying cuckservatives like Jeb in the debates. Hell, he just made that little pussy Walker quit, who’s going to beat him? We’re sick of bitch politicians like that fucking moslem Chimpy the Kenyan, letting black thugs run wild in the streets, looting and murdering cops. A guy like Donald Trump doesn’t take no shit, he’ll bust fucking balls until we’re number one, just like Jim Harbaugh is doing with the Wolverines this year” he concluded with a vaguely threatening smile.
I recoiled in horror as my ignorant companion managed to bat for the full dipshit, self-entitled, bigot cycle like Ty Cobb made flesh and blood before me. I briefly considered making a break for it, but Zachariah Pinhead was now standing directly in front of my car and I wouldn’t make it more than a few miles up the road without topping up the gas tank anyways. I was trapped between a rock head and a witless place with a fucking fascist neanderthal who was no doubt looking for any excuse to smash in my goddamn face. This was clearly a moment for delicate negotiations based around our similarities and not our differences; at least if I intended to leave the station in one piece with a tank of fucking gas anyway.
“It’s funny you should mention Harbaugh in this context, because I feel like there are some strong parallels between this Michigan season and Trump’s run at the White House so far” I began cautiously; choosing my words with the utmost precision. “If you think about it, both the football program and the entire country are recently in the shitter after literal generations of prolonged, sustained success. It may seem like everything has been hot flaming dogshit for a long time, but the overwhelming majority of people can still actively recall the glory days from memories of their own lifetimes. Both Michigan fans and middle-class, white Americans can still remember a time when the whole damn game revolved around us; the loss of which pains us deeply and makes us ache for a return to the old, historical hierarchy” I offered, desperately searching for some sign of understanding – with little success.
“Okay then,” I continued while slowly positioning myself to begin filling up the car with petrol. Clearly, my only hope of making it through this clusterfucking nightmare was to continue speaking. With any luck at all, I could engage Roscoe’s brain before he had time to engage his fists.
“So now, into this desperate maelstrom of craven, selfish longing enters a dynamic, charismatic messiah figure with ties to our glorious past and a track record of moderate success. Sure, Harbaugh has never won a championship as a head coach and Trump has run just about every goddamn business he’s ever been involved with directly into the fucking dirt – but that doesn’t matter to us because they both say the things we want to hear, in a language we can comprehend. Furthermore, both men firmly understand how to play to the pain, insecurity and obsessive passion of their respective fan bases. All summer the crescendo of tough talk, promises to kick asses and potshots at the new established order build into a glorious bonfire of righteous indignation. The similarities don’t end there however; both are also highly secretive, long on promises of a return to competitive dominance and short on specifics of exactly when or how this will be accomplished. They both combine a curious mixture of hope, nostalgia and rage into a message that sells like cheap crack to the sort of mind that’s more worried about famous names than fuzzy details. Finally, both Harbaugh and Trump have a funny habit of leaving behind a veritable legion of angry former colleagues; many of whom openly question either man’s sanity.”
I stared into his eyes as calmly as I could, wondering precisely how many of the words I’d just spoken this poor illiterate bastard would have to Google when he made it back to whatever shit-covered rock he’d crawled out from under. The tank was just over half full by now, but the mutherfucker was still standing too close to the car for my general comfort.
Suddenly, his face lit up like the buttons on a Nudgemaster machine. “Well, the past don’t matter if you get the job done today now does it? Haters gonna fucking hate” he replied gleefully, seemingly quite pleased with himself for finding a devastating counter to an argument he’d only vaguely understood. Here it was I realized, the moment where either we would come to some sort of understanding as fellow human beings or Billy Bob Braindead and I would be forced to engage in mortal combat right there on the pavement.
“Really though, what exactly the fuck has either Michigan or Trump actually accomplished so far my friend” I asked quickly; while furiously pumping gas and tensing my body in case I needed to knock the racist son of a bitch out before he let me finish. “Yes, after a turbulent start to their campaigns, both came out throwing bows and registered back to back wins, but good fucking god man, what does it all mean? In the grand scheme of things, how relevant is pummeling a disgusting little shitheel like Scott Walker? Of what consequence is exerting your natural, physical superiority over a goddamn Mountain West squad that hasn’t been relevant since Randall Cunningham left? Are we so desperate for a return to former glories that we can celebrate flawed victories over basketball schools and mental midgets like Jeb fucking Bush?! What about Jake Rudock’s inability to complete fucking passes beyond the line of scrimmage, or Trump’s failure to keep up with a crackpot bullshit artist like Carly Fiorina? Aren’t you supposed to fucking win by a lot more when you outweigh the other guys by an average of twenty pounds and/or several billion dollars at every position across the line? Sweet, merciful mother of christ – if Trump and the Wolverines look this fucking bad against literal goddamn roadkill, how can you possibly expect them to defeat killing machines like Michigan State or the Clinton campaign when the chips are down? Don’t you see? We’ve been sold a line, a fugazi, a crock of flaming ratshit – these might not be the droids we’re looking for, nothing is written in stone and so far there’s very little goddamn evidence what-so-fucking-ever that the new old guard even can be beaten!”
As I pulled the nozzle out of my gas tank and replaced the safety cap, I was careful to keep my eyes on Cooter, but it was soon clear there was no longer any need. His stuttering, toothless mouth tried to tell me that I was wrong, but the anguish and fear in his eyes made it clear that my words had hit home. Calmly wiping my hands, I climbed back into my car and fished out a crisp half a yard to pay for the gas. I waved the still-stunned attendant off as he reached into his pocket to make change, but I couldn’t quite get away before he worked up the nerve to ask me one last question.
“So, who would you pick to help make America great again smartass?”
“Why, Assata Shakur of course, what a stupid question” I shouted, accelerating out of the gas station driveway and towards the highway on ramp. As the concrete road opened up before me, I found myself pondering the difference between faith and fanaticism as they pertained to the most dangerous sport known to man – politics. It really was quite amazing to me that people could fall so head over heels in love with their ideas and hopes for a cause, that it blinds them to objective reality. Nothing; not deceit, insane leadership or a multi-year track record of failing when it counts, can convince them that wishing a thing to be with all of your heart, does not necessarily make it so. Why such unshakeable faith in people who were so obviously morally flawed, corrupt and batshit fucking insane? Because of an overstated legacy of moderate success, a stubborn refusal to ever admit wrongdoing and a well-packaged brand? Because the candidate has memorized all the right code words and looks ever so fucking impressive in a retro baseball hat? What a goddamn absurd, childish and downright idiotic notion I thought to myself, gliding along the highway towards home. Pushing politics out of my mind as I pulled into my driveway, I made a mental note to call my bookie later tonight and lay a couple hundred bucks on Michigan to cover the spread against BYU. Sure, the Cougars are ranked 22nd in the country and have interception machine Kai Nacua going against Jake “the human turnover” Rudock; but Michigan is currently on a two game winning streak and besides – BYU doesn’t have Jim Fucking Harbaugh.
- Nina Illingworth