From The Cheap Seats


I have an extensive vocabulary when it comes to medical terminology, which is part just personal interest in biology and anatomy and then related to my work in medical records. I enjoy figuring out the etymology of certain words, learning how various Greek and Latin forms are used, just learning in general. It’s useful sometimes, too, at least when a friend or relative has a question about something that’s simple and that I can explain.

But I don’t know more than I know, and I stopped pretending that I did. After I scared myself a few years ago with a couple of anomalous lab tests (which resolved), I decided that my days of diagnosing myself or anyone else were over. As much as I could make them over, anyway. What knowledge I have just means I ask better questions than most patients, maybe. At most.

So, in this current medical moment, I mostly listen and read the reports. Once in a blue moon I ask a question, but these are very competent professionals, it’s obvious. I’ve been around a lot of physicians. These are the good ones. They do their job and I drive him to his appointments, that’s how it goes and how it should.

That doesn’t mean I don’t speculate. It’s just minimal, and I keep it to myself. I wait for answers like everybody else.


I bring up my passivity here partly because it’s different for me, but also because that’s how I feel about our current politics in this country.

I love politics. It grows out of loving history, particularly American history, and civics and government, then just enjoying staying current, all jumbled together into a passion of sorts.

But I don’t want to write about it. Not in this climate, when every word is a dog whistle, triggering readers into spasms of misspelled words and creative grammar. No good can come of this. None. I would enlighten no one and learn nothing. There’s always something else to write about.

And, weirdly, I don’t want to speculate, either. The hullaballoo about the Mueller report is the perfect example. Why would I have an opinion about it? No one has read it. Well, pretty much no one. Not you.

So, yeah. I’ve got opinions, attitudes, an outsized imagination and places for it to play. If you and I are friends, and we’re in that kind of mood, maybe we’ll discuss, maybe not. But that’s as far as it goes. I’m a lurker only when it comes to punditry. I pay attention, I listen, but I’m not in the game. Not interested. Not for me.

It’s not a rule, just a preference. I’ll write whatever I want. It’s just that others do it so much better, and I really don’t know that I have anything to say.


Except this, and then I’ll shut up.

I don’t get the old person thing. I don’t know why we’re talking about Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, although I certainly do know. I just don’t get it.

To be fair, I didn’t get it in 1980, either. Ronald Reagan was ancient, but then he was a special case. He came across as much more youthful, and he was a compelling figure at an interesting time.

And it could be that my childhood imagery of the presidency was influenced by the ghost of JFK, whose administration I don’t remember but whose legacy lingered over every election. Johnson and Nixon felt of a different generation. Carter had more of a youthful vibe, and then we got Clinton and it felt as though the world had straightened itself out. Finally I’d get a president who was young and had the energy embodied by Kennedy, the vigor, the idealism tempered by hard facts.

And, well, yeah, sorta. I’m not sure if Clinton’s youth helped or hurt him. Bush was of the same vintage, but then Obama moved the ball forward again, taking office at 47.

So I didn’t understand 2016 at all. I understood the appeal of each of the three candidates left standing, at least to some degree, but it felt bizarre and backward to have our choices limited to those of retirement age (in Bernie’s case, assisted-living age).

I don’t have predictions about 2020. I just know that it’d be nice if my choices were people younger than I am, and Uncle Joe and Bernie are sitting off to the side somewhere, like Statler and Waldorf. With me right behind them.

Chuck Sigars1 Comment