It’s “Checkers Day” AKA: “Dogs in Politics Day”

Checkers Day isn’t as simple as it might sound. I was thinking this was an actual celebration of the GAME, you know,  more along the lines of “would you like to be the red or the black circles?”. But it’s not. Checkers Day revolves around Richard M. Nixon’s dog, Checkers, and a speech he gave that (so I’ve heard) probably saved his career (prior to Watergate, of course). Read on.

Origin of Checkers Day:

In 1952, Richard M. Nixon was a candidate for Vice-President of the United States, running with Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Media speculation centered around an $18,000 campaign contribution, and speculation that Nixon may have used some for his personal use.  In a brilliant political maneuver, Nixon took his case to the American people.

On September 23, 1952, Richard Nixon gave a speech that directly addressed and explained the issue. He assured the public that he did not use any of the funds for personal use. Towards the end of the speech, he stated that his daughters had received a dog, which they named “Checkers”, as a gift. He said they would keep the dog.

This speech quickly became known as the “Checkers” speech, and went on to be one of the better speeches in American political history.

So there you have it. Whoopedeedoo.

I like the idea of celebrating the board game instead although I’m not very good at that particular game. I’ve always wanted to master chess as well but if I can’t excel at checkers why do I think I would be able to handle something as complex as chess? I hear it’s, like, super tough. Cribbage was a good game, but I haven’t played cribbage since the “Great Blizzard of ’78”. Thinking about cribbage now always reminds me about the countless hours without power, huddled up with sleeping bags around the fireplace in our family room, and being so hungry that I was considering eating my little step-brother. Oh, okay, so we weren’t without power for THAT long, but I probably did fantasize about sticking little Matthew out in the frozen Ohio wasteland. I mean, c’mon. I was nine and he was seven. What do you expect? And we were STUCK INSIDE with nothing to do! I do remember, however, wondering what would happen if I passed a roll of toilet paper over the flame of the candle I was using to guide my way through the darkness. I found out. And haven’t been comfortable around fire ever since.

I buy board games but we rarely play them. For Ben, if it’s not Mario Brothers or Legos, well, just forget it. He’s all about the electronics. AND he makes fun of me because I like the “old school games” like Pac Man, Tetris, Dig Dug, Space Invaders, Frogger, Donkey Kong… you get the picture. He says “Mom, that’s so 8-bit”. I don’t get it.

He actually looked at my driver’s license photo recently and said “You look 8-bit”. I’m guessing it refers to some sort of pixellation. Or being shiny. Why is that? With all of today’s technology, wouldn’t you think the DMV could get some better camera equipment? I mean, it’s not as fuzzy as, say, Sam’s Club or Costco, but it’s still pretty distorted. I don’t know anyone who feels particularly good about their driver’s license photo. And we usually lie about our true weight and hair color so the whole driver’s license experience is certainly not a lesson in cultivating a positive self-image. Plus, the employees are bitter. I’m sure if we could read their minds, we’d appreciate why they’re bitter. They spend their days looking at people and thinking “ain’t no WAY you weight 115” and “yeah, right, you’re a natural blond – your roots are saying something else though” and externally saying “No, we DON’T have a mirror” while internally thinking “nothing you can do to make this picture more attractive anyway”. Oh, okay, they’re probably not THAT surly. But I think I would be if I worked there.

Maybe working the counter of the DMV should have been Nixon’s punishment for all the lies he spun over the course of his political career. He’d have to spend day after day saying, “Why, of course, you’re a natural blonde, Mrs. Smith! And you can’t seriously believe that you weight as much as 120, now! You just HAVE to weigh much less than that! Are you sure you want to donate your organs? They look so good on you.” And then as he leads Mrs. Smith over to the camera for her photo shoot he assures her that she’s never looked lovelier. Then he proceeds to smile his toothy grin at her as he snaps the shutter, ensuring a picture checkered with pixellation.

Happy Checkers Day. More later. 🙂

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