Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Because absolutely everything relies on you

Election Day seems right around the corner, and if you’re like most of us, you’re paying no attention whatsoever to what’s actually going on. But some people are rooting for certain trusted candidates to win their elections. If you’re among them, I have some news for you: You’re doing absolutely nothing productive for your candidate. Ask any sports fan.

Oh, I can hear you already. “But I’ve donated money!” “I put a bumper sticker on my car!” “I…I….”

Save your breath, for you’ve been wasting your efforts. Allow me, if you will, a little latitude to demonstrate what I mean.

For starters, you might recall that I’m a Met fan in a Yankee household. The Mets don’t get much play in our house, not because I get outvoted but because I’m no masochist. As a result, the Yankees are on TV an awful lot. So while I tend to avoid my own team, I seem to have played an important role in the Yankees’ having reached the postseason 15 of the past 16 years. And this one, too.

Here’s how I apparently do it. At the simplest level, it begins while my wife, Elena, is watching a game. Let’s say the Yankees are losing, with the opposing pitcher making them look pretty lame. I happen to walk into the room, and moments later a Yankee gets a home run. Well, I didn’t really have any plans for the rest of the game, did I? If so, I’d better just forget about them. Because my very step into the room initiated a sequence of events in the universe that resulted in the batter’s seeing the coming pitch in a wholly different way—and blasting it to the next county. So whatever else I was planning, I’m no longer allowed to leave the room to do it. What kind of husband ignores his wife’s pleas?

My actions, though, seem to represent only one of a host of variables. (I’ll thank you not to ask how many are in a host.) If it isn’t Elena or myself, it’s someone else, maybe across the country, who’s pulling the strings of a given game. It’s someone standing—or sitting. It’s sitting in a certain chair. Legs straight down or crossed. Looking up at the TV or not. Eating the proper snacks, and using the correct hand. And wearing the right hat, jacket, socks and shoes. The list goes on and on. But when everything fits together just so, it’s nothing less than an aligning of the stars.

Now let’s get your candidate into the postseason. Granted, politics is not a game, so eating the right brand of chips alone might not do the trick. For maximum effect, attend a speech; watching it online might not do. You can sense the mood of the crowd; the candidate is scoring points, or he’s not. If he isn’t, you yourself are obviously doing something wrong—you doofus. Bring every hat you own; try them on one at a time and gauge the change in the crowd’s applause. And pray you bought the right shoes, whether or not they still fit.

If nothing happens, it must be because you attended the speech. So walk away. Come to think of it, perhaps it isn’t just about you. Here’s where your leadership qualities come in. If your being there or not makes no difference in how well a speech is being received, it’s possible that everyone in the audience needs to randomly walk in and out of the meeting hall, or at least change seats, until the correct permutation is achieved. Don’t worry: From the length of some speeches, you’ll have plenty of time to experiment.

Of course, it’s also possible that everyone was seated in exactly the right place to begin with…but that one of them needs to be wearing your hat. Pass out those hats, then, with everyone in the audience trying them on until the level of excitement reaches fever pitch. True, chances are they'll sport some nice, thriving colonies of parasitic insects by the time you get them back. But with the country’s future at stake, better that than a lousy candidate. Are you in to win or what?

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