Joe has been saying how proud and happy he is that Barack won the Nobel Peace Prize, but I know him. Inside he’s hurting that it wasn’t him instead. He tries to hide it, but I can always tell when he’s feeling blue about something: He starts talking about all the things we’re going to do together when he retires from politics. Yesterday, he was talking about gardening and taking cooking lessons.
“Joe,” I said. “I know you deserve that prize as much as Barack did, but only one person can win at a time.”
But he surprised me when he said he didn’t want the peace prize, that if “they gave it to Gore what could it be worth?” and then went on to recall a time back in the Senate when he commuted home by train, and he was talking to all the conductors about nuclear fission all the way to Wilmington. “‘You know, Joe,’ one of them finally said to me. They ought to give you the Nobel Prize for physics. That’s the one I wanted to win, Jill, not the peace one.”
If it’s that smart-alecky conductor I’m thinking of, the one who told Joe he should be named Secretary of Everything, I’ll have a few choice words for him the next time Joe is jonesing for a train ride.
And because of that, Joe is depressed about his legacy again, and I’m being subjected to nightly dissertations on the family and genus of gladiolus and how to make an authentic New Orleans-style roux.
But I still think the reasoning behind giving Barack the peace prize is actually what’s upsetting Joe the most. He even admitted as much when he told me, “You know if they start giving out Nobel Prizes for what you say you’re going to do, I should have a wall full of these things by now.”
That got me to wondering about the effect all this might be having on Barack, so I gave Michelle a call and asked in a roundabout way if this peace prize thing might be giving Barack a big head.
“Are you kidding,” she told me. “Before the announcement they could have used Barack’s head as a backup Met Life blimp. It’s physically impossible for it to get any bigger. Just ask Joe, he’s the physicist in the family, isn’t he?”
I have this vaguely uncomfortable image of the look on Michelle’s face whenever Joe starts a conversation with her.
Anyway, I was able to get Joe to smile when I brought up Hillary, and told him that her announcement that she would never again run for president probably would win her the Nobel Prize for Fiction. He actually laughed so hard, he spilled a Burpee lupine seed packet all over the floor.
Though it occurs to me that if Hillary does retire, Joe might start sharing his thoughts on crocuses and porcini mushrooms with her instead of me.
That would work as good for me as what I told him the other day, about how much that conductor on the Wilmington run enjoyed flowering shrubs and pico de gallo recipes.
That should derail that loudmouth conductor for a while.