Is it Bingaman or is it a recording?

Ned Cantwell

Funny, isn’t it, how life can suddenly reverse course? How when once a drab existence breaks through the murk and begins basking in sunshine?
Take me, a struggling, nobody columnist who can’t even get Billy Sparks to pay him any attention. That’s Billy Sparks, the governor’s press guy. I mean, you would think I could get Billy Sparks to take a few minutes to talk with me. But, no.
That was my mood last week. There I was, glued to NBC where at the moment acres of lovely Russian legs filled the screen during the synchronized swimming finals. I had been eagerly awaiting badminton competition.
That’s when my life changed. That’s when I got the telephone call.
“Hello, this is Senator Jeff Bingaman…”
Whoa! Hello, Big Time. Goodbye, Mr. Billy Sparks. I’m on the line with a United States Senator.
“I’m calling to let you know that John Edwards, the next vice president of the United States…”
“Wait, Senator. Stop! I know what you guys are calling about. You heard I switched from Democrat to Republican. Listen, no big deal. Just some interesting local GOP primary races I wanted to vote in. Frankly, being a Republican doesn’t feel much different than being a Democrat, except I’m starting to really mangle the English language. I did cuss at somebody, though, and Dick Cheney is right. It felt pretty good.”
“…Will be in Las Cruces on Thursday. Please join me in welcoming him…”
“Hey, Jeff — may I call you ‘Jeff’? You never replied to the letter I sent a while back telling you about a Web site I am trying to get set up in New Mexico to help poor people get food stamps and other federal benefits. Well, I guess you have been too busy. But I am happy to report it is going to get done thanks to a joint agreement being developed between Kay Monaco at Voices for Children, Fred Gordon at Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute, and nonprofit Community Resources Information Inc., the Massachusetts owner of the site. Maybe you and I could meet and…”
“…with a Fiesta at the Old Mesilla Plaza. That’s Thursday, Aug. 26. Doors open at…”
“You know, Jeff, talking about political gatherings. You remember that time when Clinton was running against Bush the elder? You called me a man of courage when my newspaper in a conservative community endorsed Clinton. I remember the Carlsbad mayor, Bob Forrest, said he was ashamed of the paper for the endorsement. There you go. One man’s hero is another man’s dunce.”
“…10 a.m. Please call the Dona Ana County office…for passes or more information…”
“Senator, do you know President Bush is going to be in Las Cruces the same day? It’s a big country. How come you guys keep bumping into one another?”
“…or go online at…”
“Senator? Jeff? You’re not really there, are you? You didn’t call me! This is a recording. You’re calling everybody!”
Dang. I wonder if Billy Sparks has a recorded message I could call when I am feeling blue?

Ned Cantwell is a retired newspaperman living in Ruidoso. When he calls time and temperature, they give him the wrong time. Contact him at: