Palin Mania 

Smile and say 'cheesy'

If I were smart, I'd never put the words "Sarah" or "Palin" in the same sentence again. I truly believe her continuing presence in our national awareness is as contrived and ultimately meaningless as John McCain's desperate attempt to invigorate his fizzled-out campaign was when he dropped her in our laps some 15 months ago. The only thing keeping her around is that we are still talking about her. Were we to stop, she would thin out like a dollar store perfume stink and drift away.

Besides, most of us know she'll never be president, don't we? Most of us know she is to human depth what Toby Keith is to music. What cowboy poetry is to poetry. What Chef Boyardee is to fine dining. Most of us know that most of us would have more business being president than she does. Right?

I have struggled to understand why she's still in the nation's eye when there's so little to see. It can't be anything she's said, I tell myself, because everything she says is baloney. It can't be anything she's done, because other than flouncing from one stage to another, she hasn't done anything. It can't be because her ideas are so innovative or overpowering or appealing, because she has no ideas.

I admit, however, she's hard to ignore. For certain Americans, she is the soup du jour. This season's Tickle-Me-Elmo. The lite at the end of the tunnel. She is God speaking to them in an uneasy time, and they don't get that all He's trying to do is tell them a joke.

For the rest of us, she's like watching slapstick in slo-mo. Betty Boop barrels around a moose and bonks head first into Joe McCarthy. A Rockette slips on a banana peel and makes an absolute fool of herself on the way down.

To make matters worse, from the beginning I've had this creepy feeling I've met her before. I mean, before McCain pulled the sheet from her head and introduced us to Wasilla's bronze-coated baby. Before the campaign and all that race-tinged bile she vomited up before crowds of rapacious Republican rubes, eager to lick her pumps. Long before I ever heard the words "Sarah" and "Palin" used end to end.

Lately, as I watched her shill a book I doubt she's even read, it has finally come to me where I know her from. And I warn you, if you are sensitive to the stereotypes men often assign to women (as opposed to the stereotypes women often assign to men), then you aren't going to like it.

Sarah Palin is Queen of the League, the Belle of the Bowling Ball.

I've come across her not once, but many times. I've seen her on bowling leagues and dart leagues and softball teams and bar stools. Sometimes, she doesn't actually belong to anything, she's just there, maybe in a tavern where people act friendly to one another through repetition. Maybe in a pumice-block church where people feel obliged to pretend they care for one another. But it's most often in a setting where she can use her icky charisma to manipulate herself into a position of inescapable noticability. The Queen of the Monday Night Gutter Gals League, that's our Sarah.

She's the one who always gets your attention because ... well, what do you think? ... that's what she does. Gets attention. She starts out by volunteering to be the team's captain and proceeds from there, deciding what color bowling shirt the team should wear and who should bring what to the Christmas potlucks. She runs for a higher office, of course--no holding a self-proclaimed firecracker like her down to a measly captain's title--and she accumulates an inner circle of sycophants who secretly hope a little of that cheap firecracker magic rubs off on them. A lot of the Gutter Gals don't really like her--(they think she's pushy, phony, irritating like a wad of gum on your shoe, and who wears Levi's that tight to go bowling in, anyway?)--but they ignore her. They come to have fun, and who cares who the league officers are?

If it's a mixed league (The Gutter Gals and Guys), the guys think she's the next best thing to a free pitcher of Coors. Secretly, they wish their wives would wink like that all the time, and flirt, and be so gosh-darn perky. And as there's always some matter to discuss with a league officer, there's always a group of men with league business on their minds, lining up to ask Queen Sarah what she thinks, and did she hear the latest Obama joke, and is she sticking around for an apres kegling drink. They can hardly stay away from whatever lane she's on--especially when she's wearing those Levi's.

Oh, and watch her climb. League president ... regional bowling association rep ... state association something-or-other. Next year, she's going to the national conference. She even manages to get the league to pay for one of those snazzy blazers the bowling bigwigs all wear. And doesn't it look luscious with her leather skirt and alligator heels? Just wait'll those snobby East Coast bowling elites catch a whiff of our Sarah!

Ah, but time's running out for the Queen, isn't it? When your purported appeal has been built on one thing only--and it ain't your brains--you have to get 'r done before the gravity kicks in, don't you? And the age spots. And the wrinkles. Why, as early as 2012, you could be shedding sycophants in reverse proportion to that weight you've gained. Then it's back to lowly captain ... Wasilla City Council ... whatever ... and one day not so distant, we find the words "Sarah" and "Palin" in the same sentence as "flash" and "pan."

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