Amid two exhausting weeks in the rattle and hum of the political conventions, I have escaped to a Denny's for breakfast. No bullhorns or raging bitterness. Just eggs, pancakes and a hilarious kid at the next table.
"I'd like to have a T. rex," he says, as his younger brother grins and his parents stare blank-faced. They're probably recalling some ill-considered previous pet now known simply as "the cat episode."
The kid then describes all the great things he'd do with his dino-friend. It would wake him in the morning. Go to school with him. Birthday parties. Baseball practice.
I'm crouching over my hash browns thinking how it really would not work that way. Sure, it sounds like fun owning a fierce creature capable of shaking the earth, devouring all it sees and scaring the bullies away.
But then one day it growls at you. It snaps a treat from your hand a little too aggressively. Next thing you know it is insulting foreigners and its wife is plagiarizing speeches. Or it's installing a secret server in the basement, sending classified emails and denying it to your face.
Analogies aside, I’m not saying Trump and Clinton are dinosaurs (although certainly plenty of critics would) I’m just pointing out these bigger-than-life figures have a way of taking over everything in their reach. Dedicated voters – left, right and center– grab onto these political behemoths only to realize they don’t have the T-Rex. The T-Rex has them.
And soon enough those same voters are busier than they ever imagined trying to argue away the candidate’s flaws, excuse their lies, and justify the yard sign out front. Like kids in a breakfast joint, we dismiss many thinking, reasonable, sober and sane leaders as boring – and we pine for a Thunder Lizard who will answer only to our side, not realizing it will take all of us to make either one of these behemoths do what we want – not what he or she wants.
The kid's breakfast arrives and he changes subjects.
"Who doesn't like bacon? Except for maybe pigs."
Good. Now he’s making sense.
CNN’s Tom Foreman is covering both major party conventions.