"Did you see him on TV?"
"Who?" I asked my nearly 106-year-old mother, who was calling from Forest Trace, the retirement community in South Florida where she has lived for almost 20 years.
"I missed him. I know he had a news conference to talk about--"
"Yes, the George Washington."
"How his people closed it to get revenge against the mayor who didn't support him for election."
"Of Fort Lee."
"That's the place."
"What did you think of his press conference?" I asked, "Christie's, which, by-the-way, is his name."
"Christie, Crispy, who cares."
"I don't. In fact, I like your name better."
"My name? Ray?"
"Not your name, his. The one you have for him."
"I only have a minute before I have to go down for dinner so why are we talking about names?"
"I agree. So what did you think about his press conference?"
"You remember what I told you when I heard he had surgery, lap-dance surgery, so he could lose weight? That it meant he was running for president. You can't run for president if you weigh 500 pounds."
"I remember your mentioning his lap-band surgery. How--"
"If he's that heavy how people would think he's about to have a heart attack. Or has an eating problem that he can't control. And how could we trust someone to be president who can't stop himself from eating."
"I recall you're saying that. And I think you're right. But--"
"But, did you see what he looked like last week?"
"Looked like? I guess I did. And?"
"He was half his size."
"Thinner, yes, but not quite half his size. It takes time to--"
"So, I'm exaggerating a little to make a point."
"Which is fine."
"This is good for his health, but I'm not so sure for his politics."
"Say more because I'm not following what you mean about his politics."
"To become president. That is, if he is telling the truth about what happened and the public decides to ignore what went on on that bridge."
"I don't believe he didn't know what was happening."
"Neither do I. But up to now he's been very popular. That's why I'm thinking about his weight. Rather than being bad for him politically, how it helped him."
"Now I'm totally confused."
"When he was 500 pounds, he--"
"I think maybe he was only 350."
"You call that 'only'?"
"Sorry. I interrupted you again."
"What I'm trying to say," my mother persisted, "is that being so big was part of why people liked him." She paused to let that sink in.
"Why is that?"
"Like the Japanese Zoomos."
"Zoomos. The wrestlers."
"Like the Sumos. The people there love them. Not because they're such good wrestlers, but because they're so big. As you would say, bigger than life."
"You believe that part of Christie's appeal has been his size?"
"Yes. That's what I'm saying. Also how he talks. Not like a typical politician. How he brags that he tells it like he tells it."
"Like it is," I corrected her again. "And if he loses more weight and becomes normal size, people will be less attracted to him?"
"He won't be like a hero from the comics anymore."
"A super hero?"
"That's what I'm saying."
"You could be right. He has seemed larger than life, and for people who are fearful maybe that makes them feel secure."
"Unless they find more dirt about him, you watch--as his weight goes down so will his poll numbers."
"We'll see. But you've been right before."