The letters to the editor about politics and politicians have hit the Courier-Gazette with full force. Even columnists have scampered out on the skinny, bendy branch of political opinions. I try to avoid such topics but sometimes I can’t; God help me.
I once got promoted to a position requiring me to work with politicians for the first time in my career. There were U.S. and state legislators and senators, mayors, select board members, sheriffs, as well as their aides and hangers-on.

I turned to a friend of mine, Steve, who had marinated in politics and politicians his entire professional life, for guidance.

“Don’t worry, Mike,” he said with a straight face. “Just keep this in mind: Politics is the art of making friends.”

So, he implied, if I simply waded into the spicy sauce of politicians and their friends, I would have the key to political paradise.
Friendships with politicians seem to be as weird a concept as a kale stir-fry with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.

As you may already infer, I am skeptical of such friendships. Looking back, I remember being flash-grilled by a couple of politicians that blew that concept out of the water.

For example, I attended a fete for a state senator to show my support and to collect some now long-forgotten award. He called me to the dais, and on my way up, he said to the crowd:

“Here is Mike Skinner, who for the first time is not coming forward with his hospital-hat -in-hand looking for state money.”

He did not exactly practice the art of making friends. The little worm.

My friend, Steve, the marinated-in-politics guy, told me later that this same senator, a fellow on the short side who walked hunched over and sported a sparse comb-over, used to play some wind instrument in a marching band at his college. He thought the senator’s ego was quite fragile as a result, especially with guys taller than him. From then on, I waited for a chance to make a joke about him to a crowd, something like, “What do you get when you cross a wind instrument with a worm? Ha!”

Never happened, though. While never being friendly with the senator-has-a-complex, I decided I would be worse off having him as an enemy.
I pity some politicians, but I am reminded they are performing roles in a political sandbox that we designed for them. Sometimes they play well together; other times they throw sand in each other’s eyes or whack someone’s head with a plastic shovel. Sometimes they jump out and head for the kitty litter box (sorry if I offended any cat-lovers).

If President Biden gives another speech with his aviator sunglasses on and then raises the tiresome memories of his father’s old “Scrantonisms,” starting with “Joey,” I will scream and throw whatever I am eating onto the TV screen. But I won’t G. d. him as long as he stays in his sandbox, even though he once jumped into the kitty litter box with that unforgivably disastrous troop withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.

Former President Trump, on the other hand, seems to thrill at leaping out of his sandbox and landing into a kitty litter full of cat [$#*!]. If I hear him say one more time “I won the 2020 election by a lot!” and pump his fist like he’s a winner, I will scream for him to get back into his G. d. unelected sandbox and shut up.
The name Damocles showed up once in a Courier-Gazette column. I had to look him up and found out he was a mythical Greek fellow who not-so-subtly kissed up to a king thousands of years ago. The king gave him a chance to switch places, the only addition being a sword hung by a single horsehair over the king’s chair.

Damocles decided he liked not being king. Too much stress.

We don’t seem to have many Damocles’ today. The number of folks who yearn to work in the political sandbox seems to be never ending, even knowing a sword may hang by a horsehair above them.

Speaking of which, I hear the job of governor of Maine will be open soon, and of the candidates, there is at least one who doesn’t seem to want to make friends or worries about a Damocles Sword or even playing in any political sandbox.

Come on, Steve, my marinated-in-politics friend: you need to redefine politics for the uninitiated, which should include the words “sandbox,” “kitty litter” and “Damocles’ Sword,” but definitely excludes “making friends.”

Mike Skinner is a writer who lives in Tenants Harbor. Skinner was a medic in the U.S. Army, a hospital executive, and a college educator. He is the author of “My Life as a Non-Valedictorian,” available through Maine Authors Publishing, local bookstores, and Amazon and Kindle.