The campaign for president is so close, so mean and nasty, what with Democrats and Republicans each denigrating the other guy's poll numbers, that there is only one thing Americans can do.
Let's decide this once and for all.
With Chia Heads.
We put a President Barack Obama Chia and Mitt Romney Chia on a windowsill and locked them in immortal combat. Now we'll see which fake terra-cotta head grows a better greenfro before the November election. The lushest greenfro wins. It's got to be cheaper than polls, and more accurate too. So check on chicagotribune.com periodically to see who's ahead.
I can hear you now, my fellow taxpaying chumbolones, a nation torn but yearning to unite with common purpose, cheering the growing heads, chanting rhythmically, lustily, like ancient Romans in some arena, the two heads facing off:
“Two heads enter, one head leaves! Two heads enter! One head leaves! Two heads enter …”
On the left is the head of Obama, he of the determined features and the big ears from whose head is grown Hopium, the pungent leaf that liberals and most American journalists trim, roll, then smoke to feel better about the lousy economy and that $16 trillion debt.
On the right (actually, more like the tepid middle) is the head of Romney, he of the wide forehead. For years, the Republican hallucinogen of choice has been Dopium, allowing Republicans to talk like conservatives and promote foreign military adventures while fighting cuts in the defense budget. But I've changed the name to Gropium, since the Romney is groping for answers to defeat Obama.
Joe Pedott, 80, born and raised in the Wicker Park area of Chicago and now the world-renowned owner of the Chia Pet empire with heads too numerous to count, was thrilled about the contest.
“Great,” Pedott said. “That'll be fun.”
And educational for the kids. But whose head will sprout first? And whose head will be thickest with vegetation?
“They should grow about the same,” Pedott insisted.
After Obama was elected, Pedott personally gave the president an Obama Chia at a gathering in Indianapolis. He recalled Obama said he liked it, though the president noted the green hair. Odd, perhaps. But that's not as odd as a Romney with curly green hair. Romney with a greenfro is just plain weird.
Shooter, who helps me with the column, opened the boxes, soaked the heads in water as per the instructions, then placed them on my desk. They were ice cold — too cold, it seemed, to sprout seeds.
So I rubbed them to warm them, but, no, they were still cold. Then I breathed on them, but they remained chilly. Finally, I embraced them under my armpits and cuddled them — we've got video to prove it. I tried to warm them the way you might warm some strange creature you found frozen in the snow, if you were a farmer in a fairy tale. And later, as the farmer sleeps, the creatures awaken. The eyes open. They slowly turn their heads. The nightmare begins.
“Wait,” said an editor around here. “I think I saw that in a scary sci-fi movie.”
And what happened?
“Don't the creatures wake up when you're sleeping and cut your guts out?”
That's almost as scary as electing a president based on style and likability.
Pedott said he created Chia Pets roughly 35 years ago. His current list of political heads includes those of Obama and Romney and of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and immortal Presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, as well as the Statue of Liberty.
“How much more patriotic can you be?” Pedott said.
Well, there isn't a Nancy Pelosi head, although the Chia Pelosi's expression would be much more flexible and lifelike than her actual face. And wasn't it Gingrich's patriotic love of country that got him in trouble with two of his wives? If only Gingrich had soaked his Chia in a bucket of cold water every day, he might be the one facing Obama with seeds on his scalp.
The clay heads possess slight differences. Obama's head is stamped with his slogan, “Yes we can!” Romney's head has no slogan, although “I sure as heck did build that!” would be nice.
Then there's the issue of Hopium and Gropium. We asked Pedott: What is the difference between the properties of the two?
“The seeds are the same,” Pedott said.
He meant it literally. But Shooter considered Pedott's answer in a philosophical context.
“Isn't that so true?” she said. “'The seeds are the same.’ It was kind of a ‘Being There' moment.”
As Chance the Gardener said decades ago in “Being There,” as long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well, in the garden. I thought of Chance fondly and smiled while spreading the Chia seeds in their grooves.
Does the shape of the head matter? Romney has that flat brow, and Obama's ears are huge. Will these hinder growth?
“No,” Pedott said. “The seeds are just on the head.”
Come on, Joe. No advantage? No Chia partisanship, giving an edge?
“Nothing. The same,” Pedott insisted. “No preference. No favoritism. They should grow at the same speed. But who knows?”
Two heads enter. One head leaves.
Contact Kass, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, at firstname.lastname@example.org.