So finally, here it is, the day of the US presidential elections. November 4, 2008.
The lines were supposed to be long. Ann scoffs.
"I'm going to go around 10 a.m. It'll be after the morning crunch, people will be back to work, but it'll be before the lunch crowd, and I'll be able to just walk in and vote, like I always do."
No no no! Not this time! They say the lines will be HUGE! Long! Even you, with your special reality distortion field, will not be able to combat the lines!
I'm a pessimist. If the weatherman says a gentle rain, I bring an umbrella and food for two days. Ann never has any doubt that when she walks off a cliff a road will be built under her feet. She makes reality change by her presence. I've seen this happen so many times I no longer doubt her. Except sometimes I still do.
THIS time it'll be different! Obama's running against John McCain, the Evil Sarah Palin, the stupid George W. Bush legacy, the war in Iraq, and small-minded religious fundamentalists who believe in creationism, the sanctity of marriage (read: no homos in OUR town!), and the need to travel the world to bring war to the benighted people who still don't believe in Jesus' love. Long lines! And you'll have to fight off Republican men in poorly fitting clothes and Hush Puppies to get to the voting machines! Sweartagod!
I get to the polling place, an elementary school named Forest Edge in Reston, Virginia (one of the battleground states). Walk to the gym.
(Where are the lines? Where are the crowds?)
(Where is the gauntlet of media I had to run through?)
Walk into the almost-empty gym at high noon.
(I am going to eat my shorts if Ann's right again.)
Eight people in line to vote. An old man. An old woman. A working-age man. A woman in faux leopard skin coat, coal black hair piled high like Amy Winehouse with killer stiletto heeled boots (*growl*). Mid-thirties slacker dude. A harried looking young mom with two year old who looks like she's about to cry. A fifty year old guy. Another fifty year old guy. They all look alike. And then me.
I get out my cell phone and text Ann.
"I HATE YOU."
She writes back.
That's right, two exclamation marks, just to rub it in. I think, "bitch!" One exclamation mark.
So how was YOUR voting place?
"I walked right up to the desk. No line."
Fuck me running. "Did anyone scurry around and get you coffee while you were waiting?"
"No. The service was abysmal."
Voting places aren't supposed to be like Starbucks, I gently remind her.
"Well, why the hell not? This is the next growth industry."
"OK. Done. Voted for Obama."
"You were talking to me while you were in the voting machine?"
"What? Like you can't do that?"
"I thought it was frowned upon."
"No." She looks around. "No one's frowning. I'm good."
I hear her gather up her stuff and strut out to the car, off to the next errand.
"The DMV. My license expired a few days ago."
I groaned. "You're driving on an expired license? Oh my god."
"Yeah, and they expect me to bring them a bunch of ... paperwork." You can hear the scorn in her voice. Those small-minded bureaucrats! "Birth certificate, death certificate, Social Security card, blah blah blah. And I have to pay some sort of... back taxes..." Again, The Scorn. Other people do this. Not her.
I groaned again. Surely, surely the Virginia DMV would hold the line on reality. Surely they'd make her do all the things they say they're going to do.
Radio silence for forty five minutes. I imagine a small minded clerk giving Ann the third degree, asking for paperwork like a Customs official in his glass booth. I imagine her sweating. Oh wait. I've never actually seen Ann sweat. Hmmm. What does that look like? I imagine her groveling. Wait, she doesn't do that either.
A text message beeps. "Leaving DMV with valid, new license and on my way to trade ratty Caddy for sweet Lexus."
She calls a few minutes later. Nothing stops this woman. How did it go?
Not perfect, apparently. The DMV asks for height, but doesn't ask for weight any more. That's good isn't it? "Well, sort of. Yeah. But then I went to the gentleman from Ghana who takes the photos, and I ask him if he can make me look like Angelina Jolie. He starts laughing. I tell him I can wait hours until he gets the lighting right. He says, Ma'am, you are beautiful, all your photo look good. I say, good? Good? Honey, we're not here for good. We're here for Maxim."
The DMV has failed me. She leaves the DMV, and I'm just picturing three or four clerks still laughing to themselves, saying 'That was some crazy funny white bitch.'
She's clicking out to the car. I hear the squeak of the security alarm as she opens the door. She's in motion again, always moving, moving like a shark, getting things done.
She never did pay the tax.
I think America's due for a turn around. I can feel it. Get out of Iraq. Reduce taxes. Become more tolerant of gays and lesbians. Fix this banking mess. Hang a few CEOs in public squares as an example for the rest of them.
I just have one suggestion for our next president. Are you listening, dude? I've got a great suggestion for Secretary of State. This woman can get things done.