This morning did not start out very well.
I had neglected to take into account that certain streets that run through this fine metropolis of ours also passed directly by certain polling places and, this being the first Tuesday of the eleventh month, big doings were a-brewin as close to the polls as legally allowed.
And I realized, all too late, that I was going to have to run the gauntlet of pollsters and campaign activists on my way to my work transportation. This didn't settle well with me, for there's that ever-constant fear of being grabbed and roughly shoved into a saloon, getting a few quarts of rotgut poured down my gullet, and being frog-marched from ward to ward to repeatedly vote straight down the Tammany line, or as straight as my intoxicated senses would let me.
Well, I'd have that fear, at least, if I'd lived in New York City a century and a half ago. But anyway! Even after taking my delicious morning alprazolam and solace in the fact that I live in the 21st century when folks don't get that kind of treatment anymore, I still feel kinda wary and unsettled inside when I walk down the sidewalk and watch as a group of people, carrying signs and holding flyers, all turn to look at me as if I were fresh meat. Fresh vote meat.
"Vote Yes on Question 1!" a man said, shoving a flyer into my hands. "It will save our economy and our state!" Once again my ignorance had betrayed me; I had forgotten campaign workers can be just as bad at shoving things into your hands as the hordes of folks congregating along Las Vegas street corners. Only instead of being handed flyers for escort services featuring scantily-clad ladies heavy on the eyeshadow, I was now being handed flyers featuring didactic political screeds heavy on the rhetoric.
"What am I supposed to do with this flyer?" I asked the man.
"Uh, read it?" he replied.
"Now see, this is where it gets tricky," I said. "Cause if I'm already on the side you support, this flyer is useless and you're preaching to the choir. But if I'm not already on your side, I don't see how this would help much to change my mind."
"Just take it, willya?" the guy said, growing exasperated. "Makes me look good."
"But I don't want to just take it and throw it away," I said. "I don't want to be wasteful."
"So make a paper airplane or something and throw it off your porch, okay?" he said, already scouting the sidewalks for some other empty-handed individual. "And VOTE YES ON 1!"
"No, no, vote NO on 1!" the man's arch-nemesis said from the other side of the sidewalk. She handed me another flyer.
"I said these probably aren't going to change my mind."
"But by voting YES on 1, you're going to allow for the complete collapse of civilization as we know it! Juvenile delinquents! Toddlers with bottles of Wild Turkey instead of mother's milk! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!"
"You're full of beans!" the YES guy said to the NO lady.
"No, you are!"
"Uh, thanks, guys," I said, "But I've already made up my mind which way to go."
"How could you?!" both flyer hander-outers gasped. "How can you possibly make up your mind when you won't let us tell you how?"
"I vote with this," I said, pointing to my brain. "And sometimes I vote with this," pointing now to my heart. "And once in a while I vote with this--" (here I pointed to my butt) "--but that was only in 8th grade, because I thought it would be funny to vote Kermit The Frog as president in our mock homeroom election."
"You, sir, are a disgrace to the democratic process," the NO lady hissed.
"Aw, c'mon," the YES guy said as I began to edge away from them. "You have to admit he's got a good point. I mean, Kermit could run on any ticket, and he'd be a sure lock if he chooses Fozzie for his running mate..."
I thought I had escaped the brunt of this polling craziness until I ran smack into the next crowd of pollsters. I had no time to pretend to shove my hands in my pockets and avoid eye contact; the mob surrounded me en masse, each one hollering and beseechingly shoving flyers into my hands.
"Vote YES on 5 and 6!" one said.
"Vote NO on 5 and 6!" another one said.
"Vote YES on 5 and NO on 6!" a third screeched.
"Vote NO on 5, YES on 6, and send an UNDECIDED message to those State House fatcats on Question 8!"
"Vote YES on all odd-numbered questions, NO on all even-numbered questions, but for multiples of 5 and 10, flip a coin!"
"I don't even think we have that many questions on the ballot!" I gasped, staggering under the weight of the flyers being heaped into my outstretched arms.
"Vote YES for all questions that end in a vowel!"
"If you have to read the question aloud more than twice to get a sense of what it means, just vote NO!"
"It's for the children!"
"Think of the children!"
"Your only concern should be for our children!"
"Stop!" I cried, my knees buckling. I was carrying pretty much a ream of paper flyers by this point. "Please, stop! I can't take any more of this campaigning! For the love of Jefferson, people, please, stop!!"
It was at this point I collapsed under the sheer weight of the campaign flyers, exhaustedly passing out as the papers fluttered down around me, covering me completely in mounds of paperwork. I awoke, panicked and sweating, underneath my down comforter. I kicked the blankets back, dislodging the cat by my feet, and checked the clock with a bleary eye -- 5:30 am. I hadn't braved the gauntlet of pollsters after all. It had all been REM sleep. Breathing a sigh of relief, I rolled over, pulled the covers back over me, and that's when I noticed the two-foot stack of campaign flyers on my bedside table.
The best airplane I've made so far flew 15 feet before nosediving into the rose bushes.