Thursday, August 31, 2006

Movin' on up

Last weekend at CornFest, I had to work for four hours at the Sylvan Learning Center booth. For the most part, I was just handing out water bottles and brochures. But then an interesting thing happened.

A woman came up to me and told me that she loved Sylvan and all that we did, and then we started talking about education. She said she taught on the south side of Chicago, which I also did at one time. So we chatted about that for a while. She told me she had her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt, and she was interested in maybe starting a Sylvan in Chicago somewhere. And then she started talking about politics, and the conversation turned a bit . . .

She said, "You know, No Child Left Behind just does not work."
I agreed. "Yes," I said, "Some of us in education call it No Child Left Untested."
"Oh, that is great!" she said. "But I cannot talk politics around my family. They are all Republicans, and I am a Democrat."
"Yeah," I said, "You get a lot of that around here. This is Dennis Hastert country, after all."

Now I need to make a couple of side notes before I continue with my story.
  • Point 1 - Dennis Hastert, who is of course the Speaker of the House, the most powerful man in the House of Representatives, is in fact my congressman, a fact which I am not so happy about.
  • Point 2 - Though normally this kind of detail would be irrelevant and a touch racist, it is important to the story that I mention that the woman I was talking to was a black woman about 50 years old.
So she says, "I know, and it makes me so sad. You know, Dennis Hastert is my grandfather."
Pause.
"Excuse me?" I say.
"Yes, Dennis Hastert is my grandfather. And at family dinners, I just get so sad. I can't even talk to the rest of my family."
I was at a loss for words. I was trying to figure out in what possible way this 50-year old black woman could be the granddaughter of Dennis Hastert, so I just decided to go with it.
"Really? That's very interesting."
  • Another sidenote: In the Illinois governor's race, the Republican candidate is a crusty old woman named Judy Baar Topinka.
"Yes, he is a my grandfather, and Judy Baar Topinka is my sister."

After she left, I said to my friend Kathleen, who was working at the booth with me, "I'm pretty sure that woman was crazy."
Kathleen told me that the man she was talking to worked for a mental health agency and was looking for my new friend, so we figured she must have been a client, or perhaps an escapee.

As a fun follow-up to this story, I should mention that Dennis Hastert's son Josh is a friend of a friend, and I have met him a couple of times at parties. It was good luck that I saw him that night and was able to tell him the story. He laughed, saying, "Yep, that was my daughter!"

Dennis Hastert, Grandpa:



Judy Baar Topinka, sister:



Crazy Woman, Granddaughter and Sister:

(Ok, so the woman who came up to me at CornFest was not actually the Simpsons version of Isabel Sanford, aka Weezie Jefferson, but I don't have a picture of the real crazy woman.)

8 Comments:

At 3:39 PM, Blogger M.Cummings posited...

So far I've experienced quite a few Crazys, in this IL but they have all been quite polite, and always entertaining as long as they are arms length away. In MN Minnesotta nice ( or MN Passive Aggresive) the crazy just aren't quite as entertaing.

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger Carson posited...

Oh my God... that story is so funny.

Do you think she really believed what she was saying... or do you think it was just compulsive lying?

That story totally reminds me of this one time when I had some crazy guy hit on me at a gay bar in Minneapolis claiming to be the Republican Senator from Brainerd. Complete lunatic!

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger Carson posited...

(***Disclaimer about my last post*** Yes, I actually did run into Senator Koering in a gay bar in Minneapolis about a year before he came out of the closet. I think he thought I would be impressed he was a state senator. Too bad for him that I worked for the DFL Party at the time, and was not amused by the idea a closet case Republican was representing my friends and family. I ripped him a new one for not supporting equal rights.)

 
At 7:42 PM, Blogger Pelk posited...

You should really count your blessings. What if Newt Gingrich represented your district?

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger chris posited...

In milwaukee we have a term for all Illinois drivers, or at least ones from Chicago. FIB's
Friendly
Illinois
Buddy

...yeah right.

could be worse, Bill frist could be the speaker...

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger CoachDub posited...

If Newt has his way in 2008, he will be representing all of us.

 
At 3:51 PM, Blogger Houley posited...

If I have my way in 2008, Flava Flav will be representing all of us.

 
At 12:01 AM, Blogger Kid C posited...

I laughed through this entire post. Great story!

 

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