Maybe 25 years ago, I went to a wedding that was catered by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Well, it wasn't really catered, but they had the reception in the groom's mother's living room and kitchen, and one of the groom's brothers went out and got three or four buckets of chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, and I think some green beans. The guy got all white meat, too.
That little wedding story is intended to provide what better writers call "context" — my way of letting the reader know that I think a $20 bill is a nice piece of money.
I'm not the kind of guy who reads the fourth-quarter campaign finance statements of presidential candidates without thinking of the money in terms of chicken breasts.
And I was reading those numbers today. There are candidates on that list who raised over $10 million last quarter, some a lot more. Party affiliation doesn't matter, either. It's obvious all of these guys are going after money with the same single-minded purpose one sees among junkies panhandling nickles to buy the next jolt in the arm.
When I was a kid, until I was maybe 15, I used to wish I had magic powers. It was something I used to wish right before I fell asleep at night. I'd wish I could have powers no one knew about and that I could lie there in the dark and deploy my powers and give people what they needed. I'd think of how Pop told me about some guy at his job, how he got laid off, and I'd think about magic-ing him his job back, or I'd think about the woman at the end of our street and how I'd like to fly through the air and get her boy and bring him home from Vietnam.
Yeah, I was a precious little jackass when I was a kid. I read too much, and I had no brothers or sisters, so I was alone a lot, and Pop always talked to me like I was 50. I grew out of it, but not all the way, which is why I became a writer and not something useful, like an escalator repairman.
I got the old magic feeling back when I read about those millions the candidates are collecting.
On my way to work, I pass an old brown house with old wooden windows, and I know if I had a couple thousand of those millions I could buy replacement windows for the people who live in that house.
Hell, if they'd throw me $40, I could buy some kid a winter coat, or they could give me $5,000 and I'd get a reliable used car and give it to some woman whose current vehicle my or may not start tomorrow morning. If your car doesn't start often enough, sometimes you lose your job. Do candidates think about that, about how many people lose a low-wage job because their car doesn't start one too many times?
"I'm sorry, Jackie," the manager says. "I know it's not your fault, but you're missing too many shifts."
I know the money candidates raise doesn't just vanish. It creates jobs for consultants and speech writers and people who print campaign literature and the guys who drive the limos.
But to think of there being that much money in the country and not much of it getting down to the woman whose car won't start, it has to bother you.
At night, maybe.
Just before you fall asleep.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.