We were reporters with time to kill. "So, where do you think he is now?" someone idly wondered.
This, as we scanned the crowd of hundreds along the river at The Docks, all of us waiting for Carty Finkbeiner to state that the sky is, indeed, blue.
"Maybe he's on a boat," a photographer suggested.
"Nah," I said, looking across the Maumee River at the downtown skyline. "He's over there. And any minute now, Carty's gonna walk across the water to announce he's running."
Ahhhhhh. Bring on the campaign! No matter what other candidates said or did, this mayoral race didn't begin until Carty himself fired the starter's gun and started sprinting.
The day began unbearably hot and humid. By Carty's 5 p.m. announcement, rain had moved through and swept away much of the muggy heat. I'm not much for "divine endorsement," but jeez, talk about a sign....
"To other people, it's just a job, but Toledo is Carty's family," gushed Lola Williams, who had precious little good to say about current mayor Jack Ford.
"I have been on the elevator with that man, and - " here Ms. Williams sniffed with tremendous condescension and looked away, over her far shoulder - "that man won't even look at you."
If I had a nickel for each complaint I've heard about the stand-offish Jack Ford, I'd be - well, I guess I'd be an infamous GOP coin dealer, that's who. Carty, of course, is 180 degrees from taciturn Jack. If Carty tackles your hand for one of his achingly firm handshakes, good luck getting that hand back.
But lemme tell you, the guy has never looked better than he does these days. Lean, hale, tan, that familiar cheesy grin plastered wide across his face. I had no idea how much I'd missed him. OK, maybe not him as much as the idea of him. But, still.
And, watching him up on the dais, it was very clear he'd missed us. Yeah, sure, he had that TV gig. But standing in front of a camera is not nearly as gratifying as standing in front of a cheering throng.
Car-TEE! Car-TEE! Car-TEE!
He beamed. Just beamed, I tell you. Descending from the dais, he basked in the crowd that immediately encircled him; a dried-out houseplant finally getting water. Hugs, handshakes, waves.
Soon enough, media edged out the well-wishers. A bouquet of microphones bloomed before him. WNWO, Channel 24's Tom Bosco thrust a mic at Hizzoner (oops, force of habit), and asked about two people everyone knows so well: Good Carty and Bad Carty.
As he smiled and began his answer, Hizzoner (sorry, must be the polls talking) actually rose up on the tips of his toes and leaned forward, "bring-it-on" body language if ever I've seen it.
Thank God - and God help us.
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