by Slo Mo
This was supposed to be an exciting week for me: my very first presidential election. Wooohooo! Cue the confetti and strike up the band, baby - it's SHOWTIME!
And it has been an exciting week. Just not exactly the kind of excitement I had in mind...
The fact that I'm not American, and not eligible to vote, is entirely beside the point. I was happy just to be here, just to stand on the sidelines and gawk, like a fan snapping photos at the Academy Awards. Like an autograph hound on Broadway. Like a kid backstage at the Britney Spears farewell concert (and, if there is a god in heaven, there WILL BE a Britney Spears farewell concert - SOON).
Because, friends and neighbors, it comes down to this: I love a good show. And if American politics isn't all about showbiz, then I sure don't know what is.
Plus, and perhaps more to the point, I wanted to use all those red-white-and-blue decorations left over from when Dog ran amok in the party store on Independence Day. Waste not, want not!
So anyway, I guess the trouble started two weeks ago when, in an unprecedented fit of industry, I went outside to tend the shrubs. Now, normally this chore would be left to my cousin's garden service, but I needed to do something with the two skids' worth of organic compost that I'd accidentally purchased on a chemically-influenced evening when I thought I was ordering from the Victoria's Secret catalogue but was, in fact, reading the classified ads in Vegetarian Times. By the way, I don't know if any of you have ever seen two skids' worth of compost, but it's a LOT. And like I said before - waste not want not. But I digress...
So there I was - covered in compost dust, my legs all scratched up and my hair full of leaves, sweating like Ted Kennedy on a hot day in a dry county, using Joolz's little pink chainsaw to trim the front hedge - when I realized someone was honking their horn. I figured it was just some frat guys showing their appreciation for a blonde with a chainsaw. It happens. So I ignored them and kept right on with my Rambo-style gardening technique. But the honking persisted. Much to my surprise, there were no frat boys. Just a dowdy old red-head in stretchy slacks whose car was parked halfway up on our lawn (dammit!).
She hollered hellllooooooo and marched over to the hedge. "Sorry to bother you, but I'm a mother."
"I mean, I'm the mother of this man," she declared, holding out a shiny red pamphlet. "He's your Republican candidate for Congress, and I'd like to know if we can count on your vote. He's a good man, my son. Your support sure would mean a lot. And, most important of all, we need your Republican vote for the only man who can save this nation from moral ruin - George Dubble-ya Bush."
She stopped talking and looked at the state I was in (dirt, sweat, leaves). Then, narrowing her eyes, she snickered, "Wait a minute. You're not a Democrat, are you?" Actually, she didn't say the word democrat - she spat it.
I narrowed my eyes right back at her and replied, "Even worse than a Democrat! I. Am. CANADIAN!" Then I held the chainsaw over my head and gave it a good, long rev.
That was the last time a mother - Republican or otherwise - parked her car on my lawn.
But it got me thinking about all the festive little election signs that were cropping up around the neighborhood, and seeing as I'd just chainsawed the living daylights out of our shrubs and the gardens were now looking kind of nude, not to mention stinking from two skids' worth of compost, I thought maybe I could make up for it with a colorful collection of various campaign signs. A sort of one-stop non-partisan electoral overview. Heck, this would spruce up the joint AND perform a public service! Above all, it would be my homage to the Greatest Show On Earth.
The Gore/Lieberman and Bush/Cheney signs were easy to get - I stole them from out front of the post office. But a Buchanan sign was surprisingly elusive, until Joolz's fiancé found one for me while attending a bike show in Montana. The guy who owns our organic supermarket donated a Nader sign (he already had about twenty). The Libertarian sign just showed up one day of its own accord, which was a very libertarian thing to do. And the Christian Alliance sign arrived under angelic guard and a blaze of glory. However, I'm sad to report that the Natural Law sign never materialized, though I'm told it's levitating somewhere over Maharishi University in Fairfield, Iowa.
Interestingly enough, the only signs that Dog and his friends peed on were the signs for Bush and Buchanan. But I'll just chalk that up to coincidence...
People began to stop by just to talk about my signs, and many of them offered their own good suggestions for president. So, to be completely egalitarian, I allowed them to post signs for the parties or candidates they wished they could vote for. Among these, I think my favorites were "Kids Elect Korn", "Linda Lovelace For VICE President" and "Jerry Garcia Is The Captain Of The Universe Whether You Assholes Vote For Him Or Not."
Ahhhhh, democracy. How splendid thou art.
Dog and I got more and more excited as Election Day dawned. I even slipped into my old Statue of Liberty costume, despite the fact that it had looked better on that poodle who wore it during Dog's Fourth of July party. (Yes, that still haunts me. No, I can't let it go.)
To complement all our campaign signs, we put streamers on the front porch and lined the driveway with festive luminaries in red, white and blue. The garage door was swagged with bunting. We strung up pinatas in the shape of a donkey and an elephant. And we hung beautiful golden stars, one for each state in the union, in the palm trees.
Day turned to night, and the networks began gearing up to report the election results. Dog and I made a ton of popcorn (extra butter for me, no salt for him), cracked open a couple of beers (Bud for him, Sam Adams for me), and settled in to watch the hoopla. Gore, Bush, Nader! Fanfare, suspense, William F. Buckley Jr.! CNN, PBS, MSNBC! Too close to call, too close to call, too close to call!
I jumped around and sang "God Bless America" in my best Ethel Merman voice. The popcorn was hot, the beer was cold, my costume was comfy, and I was just about half-dead from the thrill of it all. As a matter of fact, I distinctly remember turning to Dog and saying, "Dog, old buddy, this just couldn't be any more thrilling! But please stop slurping your beer."
At which point someone on t.v. hollered, "We interrupt this broadcast to report that Florida, with twenty-five electoral votes, has been moved out of the Gore column and declared too close to call. Again, Florida has been moved OUT of the Gore column, putting Bush soundly in the lead. Also, we have breaking news of unrest in parts of South Florida, where there are allegations of ballot fraud. We go live now to our correspondent--"
And that, friends and neighbors, is when Dog and I found out that things could, in fact, get much more thrilling. Because when they went live to their correspondent in Florida... They went live TO OUR FRONT LAWN.
In retrospect, I wish I'd changed out of my Statue Of Liberty costume before I met with the reporters. Because it sure didn't help my credibility to be standing in a white robe and a foam crown, accompanied by a dog with beer breath, while trying to explain that my lawn display wasn't meant to be some wingnut protest against democracy, let alone a catalyst for civil war. Then again, once the Gore and Bush protestors showed up, no one paid much attention to me. I waved my little plastic liberty torch in surrender and retreated to the living room, where I peered through the window and watched events unfold.
Soon there were network trucks parked all up and down our street. Mrs. Bollock was holding forth from her front portico, waving her hands in our general direction and saying god-knows-what about me and Dog. Wendy Smugfetch arrived with her posse from Neighborhood Watch and began furiously writing citations. The Gore people had by now squared off in our driveway while the Bush people commandeered our front walk. Some Nader supporters tried to form a human chain around the property, but were quickly displaced by an angry mob of elderly folks from Boca Raton who claimed their voting rights had been violated.
Pretty soon all my lovely election signs were being torn up and trampled underfoot. Our bunting was pulled from the garage and set on fire with the candles from our luminaries. And, saddest of all, people were playing Frisbee with the stars that had fallen from our trees. Every now and then a reporter would aim her bullhorn toward the house and shout questions like, "Is it true that you once danced naked for Fidel Castro?" and "Aren't you the one who puts jello in her pool?" and "Are you now, or have you ever been... A Canadian?!?"
I can't say exactly who threw the first clod of compost. I'm guessing it was one of the senior citizens, just because they all seemed pretty spry and scrappy for a bunch of fogeys who were allegedly too feeble to see the holes on their ballots. But pretty soon the compost was indeed flying in all directions, and my little celebration of democracy began to resemble nothing more than a big, ugly barnyard. Stank like one, too.
And so it was that I came to be holed up in this house, living on leftover hurricane supplies and brandishing my pink chainsaw at anyone who tried to mount an offensive at the front door, including Gore supporters disguised as pizza deliverymen. It is now five days since the election and Dog is running low on kibble, but otherwise we're doing fine. I figure he can live on beer and popcorn if he has to. The mob of angry old folks has set up camp on what's left of our front lawn, and the Nader people have declared my hedge-pruning efforts to be an example of environmental devastation at the hands of ruthless capitalists.
I've received word that U.N. troops will be here by next Tuesday to quell the insurgents and bail me and Dog the hell out of here, but you know what? I'm not in any hurry. I have my dog, I have my chainsaw, I have my plastic liberty torch - and by golly, I'm still enjoying the show.