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Republicans in Ithaca

The few, the proud . . .

Sep 20, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 01 • By DAVID GUASPARI
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I have leisure to note the Invisible Hand at work: The recently opened Mehak Authentic Indian Cuisine having advertised itself as a specialist in goat, I see that the Sangam (plain old) Indian Cuisine, three doors away, has been forced to respond with the notice “We Are Now Serving Goat Meat.” I pass a sickly maple to which the city has attached a sign saying “This tree scheduled to be removed” and am mildly, pleasantly, surprised to find no one chained to it. One address lies on a street I’ve never heard of, though I have lived in this compact neighborhood for 25 years. MapQuest displays it in a place where I’m sure no street exists. The Harry Potterish mystery has a boring resolution; an apartment building called Sheldon Court sits where, presumably, a cul de sac of that name once existed. 

My first set of signatures comes from a man who’s selling his house in order to flee the city’s steep taxes, my second from one who might also be a no-show at the polls, as he’s breathing through a portable oxygen canister. I bag college-age brothers who may be proving a disappointment to their mom (someone not on my list), though she kindly goes out of her way to help me track them down.

Having overlooked one target on my way down steep East Hill, I trudge back up. A gentle rain, which has misted sporadically all afternoon, resumes. How goes it, I wonder, with the great DiMaggio? I fear both the Tigers of Detroit and the Indians of Cleveland.

I am, however, guardedly optimistic about the three married couples with land lines—suggesting to this canny if not yet seasoned operative that they are nonstudents. If the stars align I will just sneak into double digits.

The couple on O— Place have put a cheerful greeting on their answering machine, though it does not, as I might have hoped, specify “Petitioners welcome.” I leave a message with my pitch, ring their door bell on four different days (once a dog barks; once a flag is flying), but never connect. It’s the same story on F— Place (one day a lamp shines in a downstairs window; on another, a UPS package I’d seen on the stoop has been taken in). 

I manage to score on C— Park, bringing my final tally, for a week’s work, to six. But I was told not to worry about numbers. This is, in part, group therapy, to reassure political outliers that they are not alone, that Resistance is Not Futile. And for my schlepping I was warmly thanked by everyone who signed. Two days later I pass the C— Park couple in the supermarket and we all smile broadly: My peeps.

David Guaspari is a writer in Ithaca, New York.

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