Sunday, November 16, 2014

If you like piña coladas...

Note: If you are under the age of 30, you may not 'get' this column. That's O.K. Hand this newspaper to your parents, then go tweet a Tumblr or something.

Dateline: The dunes of the cape

Time: Midnight.

The Players:

Rupert, middle-aged, a dissatisfied husband, tired of his lady
His own lovely lady, a dissatisfied wife and fan of piña coladas

Rupert (disrobing): I still can't believe I answered my own wife's personal ad.

Lady (laying the last stitch of her own clothing on a beach towel): Well, you said it yourself. We were like a worn-out recording of a favorite song. Wow, who knew the dunes would be this cold?

Rupert (taking her in his arms): Well, it IS November, sweetie.

Lady (shivering): This was dumb. We should have stayed at O'Malley's. I mean yeah, it sounds romantic in theory, midnight in the dunes, but in practice...

Rupert: I never realized how abrasive sand is.

Lady: Right?

Rupert: Dang it, I left the champagne in the car.

Lady: The car is sounding pretty good right now.

(It begins to rain.)

Rupert: Oh, crap!

Lady: Wait, I thought you liked getting caught in the rain.

Rupert: I do. I like getting caught in the rain, when I'm half a block from a diner with coffee and soup.

Lady (struggling into her clothes): Wait, what about piña coladas? Tell me the truth.

Rupert (getting one foot caught in his jeans, falling to the sand): I like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain, I just like them on my terms! Yuck! Stupid beach.

Lady: I beg your pardon?!

Rupert: Beach! I said beach. The sand. I'm...uchh, my jeans are full of sand. You couldn't have put in the ad, "If you like making love at midnight, in my car at the cape?"

Lady: Don't start your Mr. Copy Editor act. I got enough of that years ago. I just wanted to attract someone carefree, someone exciting, spontaneous. You used to be like that.

Rupert: I used to drive a '68 Mustang. Do you know what the insurance on that baby would be today?

Lady: I guess fantasy is best left for love songs.

Rupert: Well, look on the bright side. I'm still not much into health food. You want to go to In-N-Out?

Lady: You have always known me better than anyone.

. . .

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Stint as poll worker brings new insight on democracy

They say if you like sausage, or democracy, don't go watch how it's made, but I signed up to be a poll worker last week anyway.

I have government work experience, so it did not surprise me at the training that "Voting never stops!" was the motto of the day, right alongside the news that the polls close at 8 p.m.

"Voting never stops" just means, of course, that once the polls open, at no time are you, the poll worker, allowed to stop access to the ballots and the booths. Come 7 a.m., democracy is a steam roller and you are just the road until 8 p.m.

My fellow volunteers (there is a stipend, but as my supervisor said, "Nobody would do this just for the money") included a middle-aged Chinese-American neighbor of mine and two young African-American women, one only 16 years old, and the other 8 1/2 months pregnant.

"America the Beautiful" is playing in your mind right now, isn't it? Mine too.

We were the green table crew. Our polling place also hosted another precinct, which was at the orange table. I am not going to say there was a rivalry, but we won. In several categories, too, including most votes cast and most likely for our water to break.

Some voters whose names were not on our roster had to cast a "provisional" ballot, subject to later verification by authorities. The ballot went in an envelope, and our supervisor always asked the voter to seal it himself. This came off as a gesture against voter fraud, but really it was just that none of us wanted to lick government envelope glue. I joked to one man, "Does it taste like democracy?" From the face he made, I think so.

The Founders never said it would be easy.

Our supervisor put all the leftover Halloween candy she wanted to get rid of right next to the ballot reader. "Would you like to celebrate democracy by increasing your blood sugar level?" I would ask. It was all gone by the end of the night.

Voters kept coming, all day. They came on foot, in wheelchairs, pushing walkers. It put a lump in my throat, to be honest, because voting means you still believe there is hope the world can be made better. I was proud to be a witness.

I am going to give sausage another chance too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wednesday Wa Pic - Sink Saddle

The closest I will ever get to dressage.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ballot initiatives you may not have heard about

Tuesday brings our latest exercise in democracy, and the excitement is palpable, if we redefine the word palpable entirely. A huge voter turnout is expected, if again we redefine huge.

Perhaps we should put the redefinition to a vote, maybe attach it to a pot legalization bill. We could call it the huge/reefer initiative. Stranger things have passed.

There are only a few initiatives on the ballot this time around, none very controversial, but I got ahold of a list of some which never got enough signatures to make the ballot, and they are as varied in topic as they are fictitious. For example:

Proposition 22. The Arboncay Axtay Initiative. Ballot initiatives written in Pig Latin rarely make it onto the actual ballot, and this one was no exception. A well-meaning carbon tax plan, this had the unfortunate hindrance of not being decipherable by anyone over the age of 11. "A good idea in theory...we think," hedged the consumer group Citizens For The Preservation of Ice Caps, "but we don't have any 11 year olds on staff."

Proposition 9. Chicken Dignity. Having a backyard coop is fashionable in California these days, and many people enjoy fresh eggs from chickens which they have even given names. The sponsor of this bill, Citizens for Dignified Poultry Nomenclature, was attempting to enforce a certain decorum in the arena of household chicken naming, so that chickens could no longer be called things like Miley, Gaga, Limbaugh or Ironman. It garnered eight signatures, fully 499,992 fewer than necessary.

Proposition 81. The Clean Water Act. This used the exact same name as a previous initiative in a baldfaced effort to mislead voters. The real purpose of the bill was to divert large quantities of taxpayer money into the coffers of a company which makes those penny-smashing souvenir machines. A Web site by proponents of the measure managed to misspell the words "the," "clean," "water" and "act."

Proposition 22A. Ungay Ontrolcay. An ill-fated gun control issue. Those Pig Latin people are nothing if not persistent.

Proposition 7. Equal Pay Initiative. On its face, this initiative purported to mandate that a woman doing the same job as a man be paid equally, but on the back of its head, it purported another thing entirely. Most interestingly, if you say purported five times fast, it makes the sound of a flat tire.

You just tried it, didn't you? God bless America.

. . .