I bought my first New York apartment during the Bush-Kerry election.
There I sat at the closing table. Just my attorney and me on my side.
It was an estate sale, so the seller was the son of the deceased. He was there with his realtor, lawyer and the closing clerk. I had never met any of the people on the other side of the table.
We greet each other. I share that I want to get this done as quickly as possible so I can get to another meeting.
As I sign a giant stack of papers, passed around in little stacks, the other side of the table strikes up a conversation.
Realtor: “Ugh, we have to get Bush out of there. He’s a war criminal.”
Lawyer: “I’m going to a fund-raiser Friday. If he’s re-elected, I’m going to have to move out of the country.”
Seller: (laughs) “My wife and I have a Mexico plan. We’ll sell everything and move.”
Clerk: “I like John Edwards. Wish he were the candidate.”
This goes on for a while as I silently sign papers.
Realtor: “Who are you voting for?”
I don’t respond.
Realtor: “You’re a Republican, aren’t you?”
I look up. “What I am, is annoyed. Can we just get this done?”
They give me that singular New York look that often replaces a verbalized curse word. Their conversation continues.
Seller: “Only a few stacks left. So seriously, there’s no way you’re a Bush guy, right? You seem like a smart guy.”
My attorney: “Stop it. He doesn’t want to have this conversation. And you’re driving me out of my @$% mind too.”
They get a little quieter. But not quiet enough. They become clinicians, and I their subject.
Lawyer: “He moved from LA, so he’s got to be a Democrat”
Clerk shows him the photocopy of my drivers license.
Realtor: “He has an Arizona drivers license. There are a lot of Republicans out there.”
Seller: “I think he said he lived in Boston before that, so no way he’s a Republican.”
Realtor: “‘Bierman’ that’s a jewish name. He’s a Democrat.”
My Lawyer: “I’m not kidding. Stop.”
Me: (looking up) “It’s German.”
They sit sulkily like kids who have gotten in trouble. Luckily it was only a few more minutes til I was done.
We finish signing. I give the clerk his check (yes, you give the clerk a few hundred bucks as a tip for his services), shake hands with everyone and thank them.
The seller hands me a plastic, business-card sized calendar with his picture and business information on the back.
“Nice to meet you, Robert! If you need any insurance, give me a call!”
I give him a singular look, all of my own, accept the card, wish him good luck and leave.
My attorney: “Sorry about that.”
Me: “By the way, who are you voting for?”
We laugh like the ending of an 80’s sitcom.