David Rodeback's Blog

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Sunday, July 19, 2009
Ruminations on the Rush Limbaugh Quilt

Where do girly men, cigars, and air-conditioned politics meet? At the quilt show, of course. I was there. I was tricked into being there. (That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.)

There I was in my basement home office on a Saturday afternoon, unobtrusively working myself into an early grave, as real men do, when I had a phone call from MFCC and some of the offspring. They had been at the Steel Days Carnival, but it was really hot, and one of them is a four year old, and could I please come and pick them up, instead of making them walk home? I would find them at the quilt show in the adjacent Senior Center in 15 or 20 minutes. On second thought, make that 10 minutes, if possible. 

What's in a Ride?

Well, of course I could pick them up, and more or less on their preferred timetable, too.

They really did want a ride, but, as it turned out, that wasn't all they wanted. They wanted to get me to take in the quilt show -- at least briefly -- with an assortment of women of all ages and a few girly men. (No offense, guys -- if that's what you are.) They didn't tell me this, of course.

When I arrived and did not find the family waiting, I called one of their cell phones. I was told to park, and then to go in and see the Rush Limbaugh quilt -- Rush Limbaugh is not a girly man -- and they'd meet me. I saw the quilt; I did not see the family. After walking through the rest of the show looking for them for a few minutes, I met them -- outside, already buckled into the van, looking pleased with themselves. We left for home.

I should note that some of the quilts I saw in passing are absolutely stunning. Your average, everyday quilt is impressive enough, but the best of the quilts at the show are full-fledged works of art. You might even say some of them are subtle, tasteful, and beautiful creations.

The air conditioning is more than adequate at the Senior Center, too.

Construction and Deconstruction

I wouldn't call the Limbaugh quilt a work of art, but it does appear to be a work of love and of a great deal more quilting skill than I will ever develop. Mr. Limbaugh is the subject of the quilt, not its creator. It celebrates his two books; the "golden EIB microphone"; his penchant for cigars; his favorite NFL team, the Pittsburgh Steelers; and his 20 years of syndication. An eagle and Miss Liberty's torch are also represented. It measures 61 by 44 inches, according to the card, which also identifies the creator as one Ruth Caye. When I saw the quilt, there was a blue ribbon on it. "Best Conservative Political Quilt," perhaps?

Poisoned as my brain is by past academic sorties into the bizarre world of deconstruction -- one of the risks of graduate work in literature -- I was more bemused by what I didn't see than I was by the quilt itself. There were no protestors demanding it be removed from the show, no disclaimers from the management declaring that it did not reflect their politics, no demand for equal time for a quilt of Al Franken -- I mean Senator Al Franken. I knew of no radio or television reports of a brewing scandal in American Fork, Utah, over the quilt's display in a public place, let alone its receiving a blue ribbon.

If Conservative Quilting catches on, however, I predict a serious, prolonged brouhaha. The apostles of freedom of their own speech (and no one else's) will attempt to silence conservative quilting with some sort of Fairness Doctrine (by another name). Here's how it might work: If you make a Rush Limbaugh quilt, you'll have to make a Che Guevara quilt next, and you better have made a Barack Obama, Fidel Castro, or Barbara Streisand quilt of much larger size previously. It's only fair, you see. And if you sleep under such a quilt as an adult, you'll have to sleep under a liberal quilt the next night (if you can), to protect you from false political ideas. If you cause a child to sleep under a Limbaugh quilt, it will be child abuse, and they will come and take the child away to sleep under a large poster of the House Democratic Caucus, and with a plush teddy bear with the face of the Vice President, the Secretary of State, or the Reverend Jesse Jackson. (Ever the proponents of choice, they will allow the child to choose among the three.)

But I Digress

In any case, none of the girly men looked like Alec Baldwin, and my coerced exposure to the quilt show was relatively brief. I deduce that it was harmless to me, too, because I didn't come home and have to kick the dog (we don't have a dog) or watch a Schwarzenegger film (which I almost never do, anyway). I wasn't even consumed by a desire to grill something (which I do almost often enough, with or without quilt shows).

Watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice might have been nice in the evening, but there was still too much work to do. And the family budget is a little too tight right now for me to be tricked into spending the evening dining at Mimi's (where the corn chowder is sublime) or attending some glorious opera by Puccini or Mozart.

My work lasted until sometime on the dark side of 1 a.m. No doubt girly men of the sort who go to quilt shows had been in bed for hours by the time I, a confirmed and celebrated Alpha Geek, finally retired.

Some of those quilts were simply amazing.

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