This piece is my favourite of all those I’ve written over the last 7 months. It was written about 10 days before the election, and read out by my good friend Susan Heimburger, in her glorious, expressive southern accent. Like a few of the pieces I wrote this year, it’s in a female voice. Enjoy!
So, I did something foolish the other day. I was totally caught up in the election; it’s everywhere now. Every TV channel, every news programme; the posters on the sides of busses, the talk around the coffee machine at work. We’re suffused in it, completely drenched in the effluence of this war of ideas, so that it’s the air we breathe and the food we eat, and all we can think about.
Not that I mind, really. I mean, the last two elections were so boring! At least this time there are people you can be excited about, and ideas worth debating. It feels to me like this is a time of significance – the banks are going bust, our houses are losing their value, we’re losing both the wars we’re fighting… The election is really about something this time round.
So, after having this huge fight with Charlie at work about his stupid, redneck ideas, I went and got involved. I mean, I had to. We’d had this “you can’t possibly believe that” fight, back and forth, and he won it by going “well you can’t hardly talk; you ain’t never even voted!”
And he’s right, too. Never voted, never part of any party. My folks were Republicans, but mainly because their folks were Republicans, and their friends were Republicans, and just about everyone we ever knew back home were Republicans. I mean, that’s not exactly informed choice, y’know. And I wasn’t really anything; I coulda been Republican too, but, I mean, what was the point? And there was no real point in voting Democrat back there – they never really stood a chance.
So then I came here and… It all seemed so pointless really. I mean, what difference does it really make? They don’t make it any easier or harder to get a job and keep it, and there ain’t a politician anywhere that is going to reduce taxes for those of us on the bottom rungs of life. So I didn’t vote last time, because I didn’t care, and the time before I was too young, really, to know what the difference was.
But like I said, this time feels different. I mean, we might actually be about to get a black president! Even if that is something you’re not too comfortable with, you’ve got to appreciate the significance of it. And these days, we’re all for significance.
I like a war hero same as the next gal. An’ unlike some I respect my elders – the age thing just ain’t an issue for me. But this time. A black president! Now, surely, that is change we can believe in.
Or least as ways hope.
And if hope, fight.
So I signed up. I got on the website and looked at what I could do. Now, I’m not the most forthcoming of gals, so I didn’t right want to doorknock, but there were other options… I only went and ordered myself some stickers, didn’t I.
I mean, you’d have thought that that would be easy enough to handle. Stickers. Stickers. Vote Obama; Obama for President; Change you can Believe in. You know the kinda thing. I thought I could wear a few, get some girlfriends wearing them, give a few out at the shop (to the regulars at least). I thought, that’s make a difference; but a little, me-shaped difference…
Well, this morning a courier came with this tube. It was like a foot-an-a-half long, maybe six inches wide, and it was full. I mean, it was full! There must be thousands of the darn things in here! Roll after roll of them! I could paper my house with these things!
So, I put some on my journal, and my diary, and the workbook I use in nightschool. I put one on each of my coats, one of each type on my apartment door, and again on the main door to the block. I cut a couple of rolls into strips and took them into work, much to Charlie’s chagrin.
I’ve cut rolls into sheets and mailed them to just about everyone I can think of. Even my folks (won’t Pa be pleased!). And there are still at least a thousand here.
Yesterday I walked round the neighbourhood and stuck the darned things on every lamppost, mailbox or fire hydrant I could find. Every. Single. One.
Obama/Biden; Obama/Biden; Obama/Biden; Obama/Biden; Obama/Biden; Obama/Biden; Obama/Biden; and on, and on, and on, and on…
I’ve got totally mesmerised by the stickiness… I think I’ve only through this, learned to appreciate the word ‘tacky’. It’s the sound your fingers make, lifting off the sticky back.
And they smell really weird, too. It’s so hard to describe… Gluey, I guess…
They’ll stick to our clothes, but they’ll come off after a day or so. They’ll stick to glass like they’re determined to be there till Eternity. They got a similar affinity for wood – I reckon the door will decay before those stickers come off, which means someone will be remembering Obama 08 long after I’ve escaped this hellhole.
I wonder how many millions of these things they’ve printed? How many other Joes and Janes are wanderin’ round their small towns sticking stickers wherever they’ll… stick?
And where do they go when they die? The ones that fall off sweaters or melt off of lampposts in the November rain? What is the purpose of a political sticker once the politics is decided? When the votes have been cast?
Does the guy manning the printer, churning these things off by their million, their billion, does he wonder what the purpose is? What the point of it all is? Is he sad that the fruit of his labours will soon be useless, as the last weeks become the last days?
I do. I’ve gotten to wondering about it, at least.
I think I’m going to keep a few sheets, somewhere safe maybe. If I have kids one day, I’d like them to know that I was there, campaigning for the guy we all hope will make history. Win or lose, I’d like them to know that.
Right. I gotta go. I reckon there might be a lamppost down on 4th I missed yesterday…