Primo came downstairs and slumped into the bed. "I don't know what to do. I haven't gotten anything done all day."
I glanced at the clock. "It's 9:30!" I said.
"I know," he sighed. "I have a meeting with that graphic designer tomorrow. I have work to do. But I can't concentrate. I'm gridlocked."
"Why?" I glanced back at the book in my lap. I'd spent a few hours trying to put his website together, including trying to figure out to upload a photo to the front page. I hadn't worked in that application before. I never did figure it out.
I'd done three loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom, washed the kitchen floor, gone to the grocery store, changed the sheets, vacuumed, taken out the trash, cleaned the cat box, baked a cake, gone running. I had let the cat in and out of the house three times. I had gone to the good hamburger place to use the two for one coupon before it expired. I had gone to the library to return books so I wouldn't be fined. I had washed mustard greens and cooked them so Primo would have a green vegetable for supper.
I had finally sat down to relax. Now Primo wanted my attention.
I guess he deserved it. He still had a harder life than I did.
"My parents sent me an email."
This was never good. I took off my glasses. I would not be returned to the book any time soon.
"My dad wants to know if I've put enough 'due diligence' into running. He doesn't want me to make the same mistake they made with the restaurant."
His parents had invested a lot of money in a restaurant with Primo's brother. The big difference between Primo running for office and the restaurant, however, is that we are 1. not taking a second mortgage against our house of 2. $250,000 for 3. a business about which we know nothing and 4. have researched not at all.
I rolled my eyes. "What else?"
"And my mom says I should worry about taking care of myself instead of trying to fix the world."
I double rolled my eyes.
"This? From your mother? Your mother who is the biggest emotional drain in your life? She is telling you to take care of yourself and not to take care of anyone else? Does she see the irony in this?"
"Everyone else is happy for me. Everyone else is supportive. Even you are supportive and you don't agree with me."
I shook my head. "What are they trying to accomplish? Are they trying to talk you out of this?"
"I don't know."
"Besides, what's the downside of your running? If you run and don't win, then what? It's not like you lose your job. I know you hate your job and want to do something different, but if you lose the election, we just make another plan. But there is no downside to running. There is no risk. I don't know why they would discourage you. You'd think they'd be all over this. It's not like they've ever been proud that you're an engineer, anyhow. Your dad thinks you should have gone to grad school. He doesn't think you really work. You'd think they'd be excited that you're going into politics so they can brag to all their activist friends that their son is in the House. I don't get it. Why do they always have to be such downers?"
"Maybe it's because they know if I'm campaigning all summer, I won't have time to visit them."
I laughed. "I'll bet that's it!"
He smiled. "And they called you an Ice Queen. And blamed you for keeping me away from them."
"Oh yeah. If it weren't for me, they would see you all the time. Wouldn't you?"
He nodded. "That's it. I just love visiting them and spending time with them."
He paused. "They think I'll be corrupted."
"They do? The people who raised you? They think that what, you'll get sucked up in the cesspool and lose your moral center?"
"Yeah. I'll start taking bribes. Except it's your side that does that."
"Oh right. Let's see. The most recent bribery scandal in our town was - Oh! On your side! For Johnny X! For $500!"
He laughed. "Yeah, for the big money, you have to go to the Stripes party. The Polka Dots aren't smart enough to go for the big money."
"Uh huh. That's it. That's the only time X ever took money. And he just happened to get caught. Your side is the side of angels. Nobody on your side ever does anything bad." I rolled my eyes again. I need to be careful. One day, they're going to get stuck.
He signed again. "What am I going to do about my parents?"
"I don't know. Were they drunk when they sent it?"
He thought. "It was 7:30 when they wrote it, so yes."
I seethed. "I hate addicts. I hate how they can't keep their poison to themselves. I hate how they have to spread it out and contaminate everyone around them. Why do they have to infect you? Why can't they be content to be bitter alone?"
"They don't want to be miserable alone," Primo said. "They want to suck me in."
"Tell them to leave you alone," I said. "Tell them to shut up."