A grueling drive down from rainy Los Angeles to Rancho Mirage. It is about the drabbest drive there is anywhere on earth. The New Jersey Turnpike is like the 17 Mile Drive in Carmel by comparison.
We always make a lot of stops because, well, because we’re old and get tired easily. I visited with people at a hotel in Ontario, then at a CVS and a gas station in Calimesa, and at a Bob’s Big Boy. I am like a small town politician and my district runs along Highway 10 from Los Angeles to Rancho Mirage.
In Rancho Mirage, we stopped at Pavilions to buy a few animal food things. The immense superstore was eerily empty. Only a few elderly men and women, alone, not in couples, shopped carefully for cat food and casually for frozen TV dinners. They looked desperately lonely. What if I were one of them? And how much it evokes my father when my mother died. He was miserable until he met a woman who took him to concerts at the Kennedy Center. Then he was happy. A good woman is everything.
I had wandered far away in the store from Big Wifey and suddenly I could not see her any longer. I got frightened. What if she were gone? What if I were alone without my wife? I was totally scared. I don’t want to be 67 and alone. Or any age and alone.
I scurried around and found her smiling her big Denman grin at the checkout counter. Now, it’s Christmas. My gift from God was standing there looking at magazines. The most beautiful, kindest, smartest, most loving, most generous woman, with the best sense of humor on this earth. The best creature I have ever encountered and I get to have her as my wife. It is Christmas all year long. I think my wife has more of the spirit of “love thy neighbor as thyself” than anyone else I have ever met. She’s literally the best person on the planet and I get to call her Big Wifey! CHRISTMAS! EVERY DAY!
We got home, unpacked, rested, then went up to the clubhouse for dinner. There was almost no one else there. We watched C-Span, by far the best reality channel there is, as we ate. On air was a calm, extremely thoughtful debate between the next President of the United States, Newt Gingrich, and the next Vice President, Jon Huntsman. This was a scholar’s debate. Long, intelligent answers, no glib bullet points, no wisecracks, no zingers. Just a super smart analysis of foreign policy and defense issues.
My wife and I were awed. These guys have it over Barack Obama and Joe Biden by so much it’s almost unbelievable. They are truly impressive. Newt’s position on defense — get the best defense you can and need and then figure out how to pay for it; sequestration — the worst possible way to play the budget game; Iran — the greatest threat on the planet — all of these were brilliant. He loves America. He loves Israel. He loves freedom. He is not bent over with self-loathing and conflict. I like him.
This is vital: Newt stands up for America. So does Mr. Huntsman. I see them as dynamic campaigners and I see Newt knocking Obama out in every debate. Comparing Mr. Huntsman with Joe Biden is just plain cruel to my neighbor from Delaware.
I like these guys and now I have hope. If I were Mr. Obama, I would be worried.
Then, back home and a long, long swim under the stars. Perfect. We have a lot of worries at home in town with intruders and scary lawyers. But out here, it’s calm and peaceful. It’s Christmas.
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