"Where is Maddie?" I asked Bernard as I sat down.
"She's trembling in fear," Bernard said with a roll of his eyes.
"Well, in her words, we have just elected a black Marxist Muslim atheist for president."
"What?" I scratched my head. "Is that even possible?"
"With Maddie anything is possible," he said with a tone of resigned disgust that only a sibling can muster.
"No," I said. "Can a person be a Muslim atheist? What is that even supposed to be? A religious extremist who doesn't believe in God?"
Bernard snorted. "Maybe it's someone who doesn't believe in Allah."
"Well then," I said, "I guess you're a Muslim atheist. I think that every president we've ever elected has been a Muslim atheist."
About ten minutes later, Maddie sat down to join us.
"How are you," I asked her.
"I am reading the most amazing book," Maddie said. "I just lost track of the time."
"What are you learning?"
"Well, this author says that you can divide people into two categories: some people are Zambonis and some people are grocery carts."
"What?" Bernard looked up from his menu with a frown.
"Grocery Carts just keep piling stuff on. These are people who just keep accumulating and aren't designed to take any bumps."
"Like shoppers at Costco or like homeless people?"
"Yes," Maddie continued on. "And Zambonis are people who just gloss over everything. They just try to smooth out everything. And they don't carry anything with them."
"How does this explain the world," Bernard shook his head.
"Well, I am a Zamboni and you are a grocery cart, Bernie."
"How do you know this?"
"They have a test in the book."
"Is this like The Secret," Bernard asked. "A book that millions of people read to transform their lives just before the economy collapses?"
"See. You are a grocery cart. You see something like that and you don't let it go. Suddenly, every book that could help you is suspect."
"I think I learned to gloss over things because of growing up with you," Maddie said. "You are always pointing out what is wrong or missing. I had to learn how to gloss over things just to cope."
As we were eating, I could not resist asking her, "So, Maddie, I hear that you have some trepidation about Obama."
"Oh," she giggled nervously. "Kind of. Not really." She fussed with her napkin. "I just don't know about what to expect from him."
"I'm hopeful," I said. "I like him."
"Well, his children are beautiful," Maddie Zamboni replied. "Black children are so cute."
"Except for the ones who aren't," Bernard dryly replied. "The best thing about him?" he continued. "He is not Bush."
"Oh Bernie, see? You are a grocery cart," Maddie said. "Just let go of that already."
"Let go? Bush is still president," Bernard protested.
"See," Maddie turned to me. "Just like the book said. Bernie is such a grocery cart. He can't let go."
"What about you with Obama?" Bernard asked.
"Oh, well," Maddie waved her hand. "I'm sure we'll get through this Great Depression that he's brought on. We lived through Hitler," Maddie said as she buried her face in the menu. "We'll make it."
"'Great Depression that he's brought on?'" Bernard echoed incredulously. "How did he bring it on? He's not even president yet. And how is it even a Great Depression?"
"Oh," Maddie said, "the election is over. Let's not talk politics today."
Bernard shook his head. "You are such a Zamboni," he muttered.
"See!" Maddie lit up. "I told you! This book is so amazing."
"It makes sense, really, that electing a Marxist would trigger a depression," I said as we ate.
"Yes!" Maddie said. "I am so glad to hear you say that."
"I wonder what I am according to your book," I asked her.
Bernard, disgustedly said, "Probably a vacuum cleaner."
"Why?" I asked.
"You suck," he muttered at me.
"No," Maddie said. "That's not in there. At least not in the part I've read so far. There are no vacuum cleaners."
"Oh yes there are," Bernard said staring daggers at me.