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November 3, 2009

Pushkin between the Polls

Roy Meachum

On this voting day in the city, I can almost envy Pushkin; the boy Pointer will sail through the whole democratic process unaffected. He might be inconvenienced by accompanying me to the basement of Evangelical Lutheran Church on East Church Street. Although his shank is long and his beard grizzled, he always finds admirers. No sweat.


Before the recent knee-replacement, he was a boon companion for my survey of most of the precincts close to downtown. Annexation presents a problem not mentioned in the fractious cat fight between the halls, City and Winchester. Expanding Frederick’s perimeters will make even more difficult walking the circuit that includes where all residents vote. Or not.


In fact, too many people are still immersed in their ex-neighborhoods; they consider metropolitan precincts more important than here, years after scuttling closer to the Catoctin Mountains. You can see them in the supermarkets, where they go for shopping. Alone. They don’t go to visit; they know no one – including candidates in today’s elections. They dismiss Frederick as a stopping point, not worth investing emotions and time. They’re the losers. By comparison, my boy-dog comes way out ahead.


His turf on North Market Street he has memorized and digested completely. Without anyone else telling, he knows the exact shops where biscuits are likely; most of all he charges for John (Rags to Riches) Hebron’s; once through the tailoring shop door he lights out for the kitchen. John – whom most of the world calls Murdoch – cooks and bakes for himself. Bones and tidbits he keeps aside for Pushkin who unknowingly shares with Mr. Hebron’s other four-legged favorites. Never mind, the Pointer reigns numero uno in my friend John’s eyes. But maybe not today.


For some people – and critters – the democratic process can take up all the space on any given day; it should. Whatever a reader’s sense and sensibility, casting meaningful votes must rank above all other priorities; that’s how we live, especially by comparison with others.


I have traveled to countries under martial law, and with dictators who tell voters how to think: they pick the candidates. Some nations face virtual civil war at each election: I remember Bangladesh when the two sides called out their goons and whipped their followers into literal frenzies. Pushkin would not approve.


This city voting day my Best Friend will take me for a spin around downtown and then settle down for what he considers the best part of any day: eating. Then he will repair to his favorite spot: the library’s love seat.


With my replaced knee still on the bum, my routine will be about the same – after I vote.


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