Good evening, viewers of the fantasy-of-the-mind TV show “Who Wants To Be An Alderman?”, hosted by me, Regis Holinger. Let’s find tonight’s contestant by passing the spotlight over the imaginary audience until it lands on ... you!
Yes, you sir, come on down! [Applause.] What’s your name, and where do you hail from?
“Mike Olesen. Geneva, Illinois. Born and raised there.”
Tell us about yourself.
“I own a few businesses in Geneva. One is my financial investment business. Two blocks away sits my other business, Stockholm’s.” [Cheers and applause.]
Oh, my wife and I are regulars. And the nights our kids return from college, we traditionally go there for dinner. We begin with the bruschetta, my son orders the steak sandwich, and the rest of us agonize over our decisions.
Well, down to business, ha-ha. So, you want to be an alderman?
Then let’s begin. Since time is short, I’ll ask only one question, worth a million dollars: “What would prevent you from becoming alderman of the 1st Ward if elected? A.) You work long hours B.) You’ve spent most of your adult life improving, promoting and investing in Geneva C.) You’d like an opportunity to voice your thoughts on Geneva issues in a more public and significant way D.) You have a liquor license.”
Just to make sure, you want to call someone?
“Like who? Geneva’s mayor?”
No one knows the imbroglio better.
[Phone ringing.] “Hello?”
Mayor Kevin Burns, this is Regis Holinger, host of “Who Wants To Be ... ”
“I know the show. Watch it all the time.”
Mike Olesen, our contestant, wants help with a question.
“Hi, Kevin. I need to know why I can’t serve on the City Council. Thought I’d ask you, since you’ve been the one blocking my way most vociferously.”
“Simple. You have a liquor license.”
“Right. And you argue, according to the Aug. 28 Kane County Chronicle, that owning a liquor license would create a ‘regular conflict of interest,’ entirely different from a ‘happenstance conflict of interest.’ ”
“I’m only concerned about the city’s integrity.”
“Oh, no doubt. But I have a million dollar question for you: What’s the real reason you don’t want the law amended, thus preventing me from serving my city? A.) You believe nothing’s changed in Geneva since Prohibition B.) If I’m elected, you’re afraid I might challenge your way of doing things C.) You think I’m a political opportunist, allowing as I expressed to the City Council that passing the amendment ‘is not about me,’ then ‘a nanosecond after the meeting adjourned,’ I announced my candidacy D.) All the above.”
“Gotta run.” [Dial tone.]
Mike, I need an answer.
“Regis, the answer, unfortunately, is D.”
“Yes. And as for the correct answer to my question I posed to Kevin, I’ll let the Geneva voters decide.”
D is right! [Applause, cheers, whistles.] No public office for you because you opened and maintain one of the community’s most popular pubs. Better luck next time, Mike. Thanks for playing ... or trying to.
• Rick Holinger has lived and taught high school in the Fox Valley for more than 30 years. His prose and poetry have appeared in several literary journals, including The Iowa Review, North American Review, and Boulevard. His forthcoming book, “Not Everybody’s Nice,” won the 2012 Split Oak Press Prose Chapbook contest. Contact him at email@example.com.