Waking Up in Wisconsin

Nonfiction editor Joanne Nelson is settling in for another four years with Scott Walker — unless, of course, the presidency calls (for Scott, not her).  For our post-election blog she pulled out a previously published tidbit written in response to the heady days of the 2011 Act 10 protests at the Wisconsin State Capital in Madison that soon followed Walker’s first election.


Sleeping with Scott

I’ve been on several dates with Scott Walker recently, but we haven’t actually slept together yet.

Take one day last week for example.  After getting my daughter off to school, the dog walked and then bathed from the gritty spring thaw clinging to his underbelly, I drive down to a local Waukesha coffee shop to meet a friend.

Dan’s already queued up for coffee when I walk in the door.  He points to an empty table and motions for me to grab it.  I throw my jacket over a chair and sit down to wait.  Looking around the room, I see that Scott is at nearly every table.  To my left a dad plays chess with his young son.  The little boy moves a pawn forward, but Scott nudges him, and whispers, “Hold off on that move, make sure your king stays well defended.”

To my right four women are having breakfast and looking at a newspaper.  One of the women, thick set with tight curls of thin hair, is jabbing her finger at a headline in front of her.  “How can he do that?  I want to know how he can do that.”  She says a little too loudly, looking up at her friends.  Scott leans across the booth and softly puts his hand over hers.  I see her face soften for a minute as he whispers sensible words into her ear, but then a loud laugh from a nearby group of teens makes her shudder.  She scoots away from Scott and soon leaves for the bathroom in the back.

The teens, playing on phones, are helping Scott with his Facebook account.  He’s struggling with the lingo.  Doesn’t understand he can’t change the settings so that all his friends are only in a relationship with him.

Dan comes to the table, hands me a cup of coffee.  He looks around the crowded coffee shop and frowns, “something seems different today.”

I nod, stir my coffee with just a spoonful of Scott and settle back in the chair.

In the afternoon, my daughter, Lizzy, comes home from school, bangs her way into the house, and slams her backpack on the counter.  “I hate my school.  Jessica said we’re stupid for going to that protest.”  Lizzy pauses to open the refrigerator door.  “Then I told her about everyone shouting ‘Peaceful Protest,’” Lizzy continues, looking for edibles, “and the tea party dude talking with that firefighter dude.  Jessica says it’s stupid to be nice at a protest, then she started shouting about how she couldn’t talk about it anymore, then she yelled we were stupid again, and then she just walked away.  Just walked away.  I hate her.  Will you make me hot chocolate?”  Sadly, I have to tell her Scott drank the last of the milk.

Later that evening I meet up with friends from high school.  We’ve decided to start monthly movie nights.  This first night we meet in Roberta’s basement to watch Waking Ned Devine.  It’s a 1998 comedy about the dark soul of a wee village in Ireland.  When their friend dies of shock after winning the lottery, the townspeople decide to claim the money.  Well, the parallels to our current situation are simply irresistible.

Actually, there aren’t any parallels, but the words town and money seem to be all the invitation Scott needs to walk down the stairs, sink himself into the overstuffed couch with us gals, and ask for a glass of the red I brought along.  He yawns when we start sharing all the rumors going around about his college antics, and simply reaches for more pretzels when we make up a few more.  Eventually the conversation drifts to a tattoo one of our clique now sports, flowers curving gracefully around her ankle.  Lydia is thinking of adding Old Abe, the war eagle to her left shoulder.  Roberta might get a more discreet robin on her forearm.  We consider the impact of tattoos as a group project—perhaps the Muskellunge as a tramp stamp, or a tasteful rendering of the Senate 14 above a breast.  Nobody wants a Scott tattoo.

Slowly we take our leave and head out to the sleet filled night.  It’s been a long day and the drive home is difficult with many slippery slopes.  Finally, after my drive through the dropping temperatures, the ice pellets bouncing off the windshield with such abandon, such carelessness, I join my husband in bed.  He turns over to kiss me and says, “Did you hear what Walker did today?”  I sigh, turn over, Scott closes the bedroom door and turns out the light.


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