Friday, November 9, 2012

How this all got started

Primo has always been a political guy. From the beginning, he was emailing links to me. "Read this!" he would urge and I would ignore it. I don't care. I mean, I care, but I want to read the story about the kitten who is born with three legs yet triumphs or the dog who walks 2,000 miles to find the owners who moved across the country. The bride who goes to her chemo appointment and then walks down the aisle. The people who persevere despite incredible hardship. These are the stories that interest me: What drives those people?

Those stories, and what can I wear to make it look like I have an hourglass figure? That's what I like.

Sure, I care about the Big Issues, but there's not much I can do about them. I volunteer on little, specific things. I read to pre-schoolers. I put the books in order at the library. I help at the funerals at church. I do what I can to make things better in my little corner of the world. I donate money to causes I care about. I rest on my laurels of the Peace Corps. But I don't see a lot of value in spending an afternoon marching up and down the square. It's fine for other people. I understand the strategy of raising awareness, but that's not my thing.

Primo, however, is passionate about big, abstract causes. Last year, the governor of our state tried to pass some legislation that was unpopular with the Polka Dots. They rallied and there were protests at the capital. Primo went. I stayed home and watched Mad Men and Big Love. He felt guilty about leaving me for an entire day and even a few overnights - he used hotel points, so don't worry, there was not much money being used on this endeavor, but I waved goodbye with one hand and held the remote in the other. "Go!" I said. "Go!"

To have a guilt-free weekend with the TV and a bag of Fritos? Usually when he's home, I feel as if I should be doing something productive, like cleaning the house or cooking a meal or looking for a job. But when he's gone, I can revert to my lazy-ass, soap-opera watching self.

Not to mention, when Primo's gone, we don't argue about politics. I would be very happy not to argue about them when he is at home, but it's one of his favorite pastimes. We don't argue about who ran us out of toilet paper (for one thing, because that never happens with a coupon-clipping engineer in the house) or who left the toilet seat up (see previous statement) or most character flaws, although it makes him crazy that I put the dishes away before they are bone dry or use canned goods past their expiration date (I used the old tahini to make sauce for the falafel and yet Primo lives), but we have had some knock-down drag-outs about politics.

Which I hate. I really, really hate those fights. Primo hardly notices. It rolls right off him because he was raised by alcoholic wolves, except wolves are nicer. I was raised in a low-drama family. When his parents are giving him their usual alcoholic crap, he'll tell me - and it's true - that I don't understand because I come from a nice family. I do. My family is nice. There is no emotional blackmail. There are no drunken emails accusing me of being a Bad Daughter who Doesn't Care.

I had many of those days and weekends in the months to come. Primo started attending more rallies and more meetings. There was talk of a recall election. That meant circulating petitions. He volunteered. Who circulates petitions in the dead of winter?

My true believer husband. Blesshisheart.

I started to watch Big Bang Theory. That's when I discovered Primo and Sheldon are a lot alike, but that's a different story.

I thought once the petition deadline had been met, I would have my husband back. I also thought we could stop arguing over whether I was going to sign the petition. (I wasn't.) (We didn't.)

I thought we could take a dance class.

Nope. I didn't have my husband back. That's when he started volunteering for a guy who was running in the spring elections for the county government. At least that race was non-partisan. No Polka Dots, no Stripes. I spoke to D. Liked him. Agreed with some of his positions. There was nothing too extreme. I wasn't crazy about his idea to ban smoking within 25 feet of the playgrounds at the public parks. "If you don't like cigarette smoke," I said, exasperated, "then move! But honestly! It's not even indoors! It won't kill you outdoors! Can't people just lighten up? Do they have to control everything that everyone else does?"

Primo agreed with me. We do have some common ground. He agrees with me that stale cigarette smoke in a bar is just nasty as nasty can be but we don't think that it should be illegal to smoke in a bar. If you don't like cigarette smoke, don't go to a bar. Period.

He picked up another candidate. Teresa, who was running for judge. Also an allegedly non-partisan race, but she made it partisan.

We argued more about politics.

I picked up another TV show, The Big C, and told him to go work on the campaign. He emailed more links to me. Delete, delete, delete. Hand me the remote and leave me alone.

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