Nader Chooses Bill's Hat as Running Mate: Popularity Surges
Washington D.C. (associated Poets)
I couldn't believe Futrelle had put me up to this! My hands, cold,
sweating, opened and closed as I neared the head of the line where
Ralph Nader was signing copies of his book at a white table-cloth
covered table. The women in line before me - two loyal members of
the CCHCC - were whispering about how handsome Nader was. He wore
a navy blue suit, a yellow tie, and a floppy, colorless hat pulled
down over his ears.
Unable to afford a copy of Nader's hardback, I instead planned to
ask Nader to sign my CORPORATE ROCK STILL SUCKS tshirt. Just to stall
him and give me a chance to make my plea. I reached the front of the
line. When Nader looked up and recognized me his face went slack.
I handed him the black tshirt and a bottle of whiteout to write with.
As he bent over the table and labored to spell out his name with the
tiny brush, I spoke to him.
"Nader, I hissed, "Give me the hat."
"The hat," Nader said, "is my running mate."
"It's Bill's hat," I protested.
"The hat," Nader said, "is mine."
A week later, in Chicago, on a rainy cold Saturday at ten PM, a
purple van was parked across from the Harold Washington Public Library.
I shivered against the cold wall of the dumpster and pulled the
newspaper tightly around myself. In the van there was a flash as Your
Aunt Barbara lit a cigarette - our prearranged signal.
The rainy alley with its walls of brick suddenly went bright from
headlights as a limo pulled into the alley.
Now it was time to make our move: Operation Green Hat.
"...Fearing..." my radio crackled inside my coat "...this is McGrath.
Operation Green Hat is go, over."
A door in the side of the library opened and Nader stepped out with
his entourage, a short African American man in an Armani suit, a Euro-American
woman with red curly hair wearing pumps and a white fur coat, three
clowns, and Nader himself.
Ice gripped my entrails. In the shadow of the dumpster I stood up,
letting the newspapers fall to the ground, and flattened myself into
"...Go..." came the signal. I heard the engine rev across the street.
I stepped out into the limo's headlights, hoping my fake goatee hadn't
been loosened by the rain, and shouted as loud as I could.
"Oh my God! Keith Richards!!!"
Then I took off running, right past Nader and his startled campaign
committee. As I slogged past I heard Nader cry "Keith Richards! Shit!
I've got to get his autograph."
So. It was working.
As I skidded around the corner I caught a glimpse of Brian Hagy,
pressed against the wall poised to lower a large butterfly net. The
van squealed into the street and did a U-turn. The door opened and
I piled inside, hearing shouts, and then Hagy was right behind me
with the net. With a scream of rubber, the van lurched off toward
the Dan Ryan.
And that was how we got Bill's hat back, and saved the Nader campaign
from certain embarrassment.