John Hickenlooper Is My Neighbor
Updated: Oct 27, 2019
My neighbor is John Hickenlooper. Okay, not my next door neighbor, but he does live on my street three blocks down in the fancy direction. My eleven-year old son started a lawn care company and put a flier on his door. He hasn't called yet. This is probably because he has a high-end landscaping company take care of his compound (stately white house, giant privacy hedges all the way round), and when those gardeners come, they descend by the dozen in at least three trucks. It would take my son about eight hours with our tiny battery-powered mower to cut all his grass. And that's if he wasn't tempted to take a dip in Hickenlooper's pool, or a nap on his expansive All-American porch.
I was proud to have a two-term governor as a neighbor, but ever since he began his bid for the highest office in the land I've been more ambivalent. I guessed he was running for President when he hung a giant American flag off his porch—that seemed like just the kind of image-conscious first-step one of his advisors would suggest. Ideally, I would prefer to have a normal neighbor run for President, one who lives in a modest bungalow and mows his own grass, like my true next-door neighbor Karl, who was a plumber before retiring. I could really get behind a plumber President. Don't get me wrong: I am hoping for a miracle that Hickenlooper will somehow get some momentum in this campaign, because he's clearly got the experience to be a good president. He knows how to delegate; just take a look at his yard. He's not a flashy speaker, or grabbing headlines with left-wing economic absurdities, but after running a purple state like Colorado for eight years, he's probably the only candidate who could actually work with Republicans in Washington. If by some miracle he got the top job and headed to the swamp, would he have to drain his pool?
I wish there was some way I could help him. After all, no one really wants a failed presidential candidate as a neighbor. On the Fourth of July, my street holds its own little parade that starts just past my house and heads down to the corner of Hickenlooper's place. Picture fifty people, a handful dressed up as the Statue of Liberty, the rest waving the usual plastic patriotic trinkets around in the air, kids on scooters, dogs on leashes, and great community spirit. We sing songs as we walk: My Country Tis of Thee, that sort of thing. This year, Hickenlooper emerged from his house and stood at the edge of the singing crowd. It took folks a while to notice he had joined us. I've got to be honest, he didn't look great. Pale, thin, exhausted beyond all reckoning. Our singing might have woken him up from a nap. He had his dog with him, so there was a lot of butt-sniffing, hand-shaking, and selfie-snapping.
My son wanted to get a photo with him just in case he became President, but I told him it wasn't looking good. In truth, it was hard to see our local rock star politician looking so diminished. I felt bad for him. Sure, the campaign trail must be hell. I'd recently read that he replaced his whole political team, and I wanted to say, "Hang in there, Hick! Get aggressive! Don't shy away from the fight!" But the other part of me wanted to sit him down on the grass and say, "Hick, it's okay to let this one go. You've achieved so much already. We Coloradans love you. Look at your house, look at your pool. Stay home and enjoy the summer. I know it must have been hard to walk out of the governor's mansion on that final day in office and wonder what the hell you were going to do with yourself now. I get it. I'm a teacher, and every summer I come home from that last day of work in early June and wonder the same thing. I understand wanting to stay in the game, stay relevant, reach for America's Potential. But they're eating you alive out there, Hick. And frankly, it's making everyone on our street look bad."
But I didn't say anything. John Hickenlooper is my neighbor, but I don't know the guy.
Update: Well, he dropped out. It was a huge relief. Everyone on the block smiles a little more, drives a little less distractedly. But I guess he wasn’t really looking forward to some downtime on the block, because now he’s running for the U.S. Senate.