The Unbearable Tightness Of Voting

No, I’m not talking about getting people liquored up to procure their votes (a grand American tradition, which may have helped kill Edgar Allan Poe), but about the way my back felt after standing at the polling place for a couple hours and a stitch, passing out leaflets for the local Green Party suicide candidate for county supervisor.

I do this every year just to piss people off. The Greens tend to run educated, sober people with fatalistic attitudes and a genuine sense of community responsibility, leavened every so often by someone who is just angry and wants to prove that the rest of the world is made up of fools and vultures. Lately we have been mostly getting the responsible ones. Like Unitarians, they have good hearts and willing hands and not nearly enough of the Old Nick in ’em.

The current lady needs a better campaign picture (the one on her palm card suggests that she is gazing winsomely up at the voter from the angle and distance of a woman about to deliver a blow job, never a dignified image) and perhaps a sense of theatre to make up for her lack of traction and funding. If I had thought of it early enough, I would have suggested a slogan like “Occupy Courthouse Plaza” (which is where the county government has its seat, and other parts). I doubt it would have been well received though because her campaign has mostly been underwritten by the guy I managed for Congress here a few years back, the one who hates me now because I wrote him into a satirical novel along with the rest of the County’s political hacks. Elections are complicated things.

I can stuff campaign literature into doorhandles and force it into voters’ hands with the best of them, though, so I did that for a few hours despite the still lingering mold in the air (at sunset, like clockwork, it brought on a glutinous coughing fit that made me hang onto the nearest railing). On these kinds of expeditions, as time goes on the unpleasantness of protracted standing goads me into a succession of quaint postures and I find that this actually helps me stuff the lit into the voters’ hot little hands; they pause to try to figure out what I am doing and then they are toast. You always get some of the hard cases who stride right by everyone like a stork on crack, but I scored a lot of hits on people who didn’t take the major party sample ballots.

It only took about an hour on a heating pad to straighten me out, if you don’t count the hacking sounds I am still making at intervals. I keep thinking about designing literature and orchestrating publicity for Earnest-And-Winsome if she decides to run again, and then think of the groin strain I got pounding signs into wet medians in 2004, which didn’t go away till 2008. I still hear from it on damp days.

Tie me to the mast until the Sirens stop singing. I don’t need any more of this.

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9 thoughts on “The Unbearable Tightness Of Voting

  1. “The current lady needs a better campaign picture (the one on her palm card suggests that she is gazing winsomely up at the voter from the angle and distance of a woman about to deliver a blow job, never a dignified image) …” Oh god, so funny! I thought our local candidates were the only ones who run these boudoir photos!

    • Somehow my mental underpants got in a bunch.

      1) The first two novels were written on a bet with my Albino Ex who had just dumped me — saying kind of nasty things about how I’d have more free time and could write (I’d complained, civilly, that he expected me to regularly sideline my priorities for his). I not only disproved his occasional scoff that I didn’t really have a novel in me and was only griping; I made him like what I wrote. (He would finish a chapter and e-mail me crying “more, more.”) He liked it almost too much. Reader over my shoulder #1 — he still wishes I would produce more stuff.

      2. The candidate I managed, who featured in the novels’ caricatures, bitched for three years about “those scurrilous books.” When he finally figured out I wrote them — slow study, but he did good spadework at the end — he went orbital. There is no action he can take against me for satirizing him as a public figure, since running for office was his choice, but still, Reader over my shoulder #2.

      I get twitchy and faintly paralyzed when my mind keeps throwing up possible reactions to what I am writing or about to write. It’s like trying to rake leaves in a high wind.

      3. While I was never happier than when I was writing fiction, it takes everything you’ve got — if I don’t write things down when they are lighting up in my head, I lose the momentum and sometimes even the desire to get it on the page. That means stopping whatever you are doing — eating, sleeping, sex — and being rude to whomever you are with. Sometimes REALLY rude, if they will not get the clue and leave you alone — and then you’re upset and it’s hard to concentrate plus now your friend or significant other hates you for being mean. (And if you let yourself be interrupted it’s like watching someone break into your house and throw away your belongings without being allowed to do anything about it.) If I am working on a client I have to take lightning breaks and scribble down notes when things occur to me. It’s draining and I’m afraid of it. The cost of anything you want is everything you have.

      4. I haven’t thought of a way out of the relatively lame whodunit plot I came up with for the third novel (they’re all silly mysteries), though I long to continue the story of the narrator’s wonderfully messy personal life — he’s a much nicer man than the real life person I modeled him on.

      If I can imagine a finished product that’s as much fun as proving that this county could be turned into a goofy whodunit in the first place, I can see myself going for it but you know, it’s not like anything I write is going to sell.

  2. I’m impressed. Democracy requires a lot of anonymous damn work. Sometimes pissing people off turns out to be one of the more fun parts. You definitely earned a comfy evening curled up on the heating pad.

    • What gets to me is the number of people who won’t get off their cans and vote, which is what democracy needs most of all. It’s all I can do not to punch people who get all lofty and jaded and say “I just can’t make myself vote for any of them.” Do you know you can vote a blank ballot? Just don’t vote for a candidate at all in any of the races that turn you off, cast your ballot and the record will be there — you were present but no one gained your confidence. At least fucking show up!

      Speaking of which, why is Presidents’ Day a holiday, or the Fourth of July, when Election Day isn’t? Which one has the most to do with retaining some kind of a democracy?

      • Day off on election day? Bright idea, no one, then, would have an excuse to not go to the polls. Up here, the law says one has to have 3 hours between end of work and closing of polls. However since polls closing time has been pushed back to 8pm that provision is not very helpful anymore.

        • I’ve been saying it for years. I mean if people can justify a war to allow “free elections” then why can’t we give everyone a day off? And the business sector would love it, think of the sales. (You know that’s what would happen.)

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