Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sunday April 22 The political Wife

One of the things about the campaign is the Political Wife. Samantha appeared when Primo was working on Teresa's judicial campaign. I like Teresa. I just don't like how she ran her campaign. I don't think judges should run partisan campaigns. The law is the law, right? Should Democrats apply the law differently from Republicans? Should my chances of going to jail vary depending on who is sitting on the bench? Technically, judicial races in our area are non-partisan, but Teresa and Samantha, her campaign manager, turned Teresa's race into a partisan race by attacking the governor.

I first met Teresa when Primo and I attended a candidate forum for the mayoral campaign in our city. If you had told me 20 years ago that I would have been interested in who was running for mayor, I would have laughed in your face. Who cares about mayor, I would have asked.

That was before I took the majority of every penny I had ever earned and sunk it in real estate. There is nothing to make you care about what happens where you live like knowing that your future literally depends on it. Now I care about the mayor. Now I care about the county executive. Now I care about the governor. I care about property taxes. I care about what they build down the street from me. Strip joint? Prison? Not so fast.

Teresa was campaigning at this forum. Primo had already started campaigning for her. I don't know how he got involved. I try to stay out of these things. He introduced me to her. "Her mom's from Argentina," he said. "You both speak Spanish!"

I tested her. Spoke Spanish. She answered in Spanish. Indeed she did speak Spanish. We conversed. My Spanish, she is not so good these days. I don't find many opportunities to speak it, so it's nice to have a chance to practice it.

"We need more women and more latinas on the bench," she told me. "We need more diversity!"

I raised my eyebrows. Her opponent was an African American. Wasn't that diverse?

I should have asked her then what immediately came to my mind: "How does being a woman and a latina make a difference in how you would interpret the law? Isn't the law the law?" But I never ask these things when I think of them. Besides, I was distracted by her seeming assumption that I would agree with her statement that of course we need more women on the bench. I think we need good judges, period. Male, female, intersex, neuter, transgender, whatever. I thought justice was blind, kind of flat-chested, and without anything between its legs, like Barbie, under those black robes.

That's neither here nor there. I started out talking about Samantha, the Political Wife. Samantha was Teresa's campaign manager. Primo would come home raving about her. "She's so smart! She has such good ideas! Her strategy is brilliant! She's cute, too! She dresses kind of hippie chic. She runs marathons!"

I hated her.

I had hated the Nighttime Wife, as well. At least at first.

The Nighttime Wife, Christina, is the woman Primo hangs out with when he goes out to sing. I'd been hearing about her for a year or so before I finally said, "I want to meet this woman." Primo had been telling me that she was a really good singer and she was pretty, too. I found her on facebook and friended her, then told Primo to take me out with him.

I met her. She is 29. She sings like an angel. She is very nice. She is beautiful.

And she is now my friend.

She is not a threat. I worry not when Primo is out late on Saturday and posts that he and Christina have gone to get burritos. I think, Well, someone is going to be sleeping late tomorrow. Good. That means I'll have the morning to myself.

I was getting tired of hearing about how amazing Samantha was. I needed to neutralize her. Deal with her the same way I had with Christina.

"Take me to meet Samantha," I said.

So he did. We went to a fundraiser at Coffee Blacker Than Midnight, which is a great name for a cafe, even though I prefer my coffee with lots of milk and cream. The fundraiser was boring, though. Can there be anything more dull than hanging out with a bunch of political groupies who already know they are going to vote for the candidate? And the candidate makes a speech anyhow? Shouldn't the speech just be, "Thanks for coming! Thanks for giving me money! Now let's all go home and watch Big Bang Theory!"

The only good thing about the fundraiser was that the chef at the cafe is from Alabama and he knows how to make fried chicken, mashed potatoes (covered in rivers of melted butter), and sweet tea.

Primo brought Samantha over to meet me. I looked at her. She was not all that. Kind of skinny. Mutton dressed as lamb, if you know what I mean. Women our age probably shouldn't wear miniskirts and patterned hose unless they're trying to pick up some cash.

Yes I am being a total bitch here.

She sat. "Primo raves about you," I said. Which was the truth.

"Thanks," she said.

"How did you get into this?" I asked. "Managing campaigns?"

"Oh, I did one as a favor and blah blah blah." She told me the story and it was a good story indeed. If I had been interviewing her for a job, I would have hired her on the spot, even though hiring without checking references is always a bad idea. She didn't exhibit an iota of self doubt. Not one misstep. She had never made a mistake. This was a woman who oozed confidence. Tons and tons and tons of it.

She annoyed the heck out of me.

"Well, people on my side of the political spectrum do tend to be really smug," Primo pointed out later.

"She is not cute," I hissed.

"She is not a threat to you," he laughed.

"I never thought she was," I sniffed.

Two weeks later, as an act of marital solidarity and because I couldn't get out of it, I had to go to Teresa's election night party with Primo. Samantha was there. Of course. I raised my eyebrows when I saw her outfit.

I will be the first to admit that I am no clotheshorse. As we speak, I am wearing jeans I bought on eBay, brown Durango cowboy boots I got at a thrift store, an orange v-neck t-shirt that I bought at Goodwill - don't laugh - you can find some good stuff there if you look, a gray cotton sweater, and an orange cotton scarf that is covered with cat hair, but I do know that for a party, one 1. dresses up and 2. wears clothes that fit. Oh, and 3. wears clothes that do not show one's bra.

I also know that the clothes are not necessarily the measure of a woman, but because Samantha is a 1. thin, 2. professionally successful, 3. marathon runner, I cannot attack her on anything but her smug personality and her clothes. So that's all I have to work with, people. I have to resort to cattiness. It's all I have.

Samantha was wearing - keep in mind this woman is in her late 40s - a sleeveless black dress with a huge ruffle around the neck. It was about two sizes too big for her. She is tiny - she is a runner and is quite thin. A little too if you ask me. The back was open so you could see her bra and her ribs. Visible ribs is not an attractive look. Her shoes were clunky and thick - they were trying to be so ugly they would be cool, but they didn't get to cool.

Yes! I know I am being ugly, ugly, ugly! I know! I know what I am writing says more about me than it says about her!

I don't like her, OK? I don't like her. I've met her twice and I'll probably have to see her again as Primo's campaign heats up because like it or not, she's good and she gets results and I'm going to have to suck it up and it burns me. Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friday April 20 I first campaign for Primo

On my way back from the gym, I stopped at the spice shop. I love that store. I open the door and the fragrance almost knocks me over. Cinnamon, pepper, smoky salt, cumin: it all mixes together into a wall of aroma. And it's pretty. The arrangements in Morocco were prettier. There, they display the spices in inverted cones that I was always afraid I was going to knock over. I never saw the clerk ever take any spice out of the orange or yellow or brown stacks. I wanted to see it, because I wanted to know where he took it from. The top? The side? Then what did he do? Replace it? Smooth it over? This spice shop has glass jars, which is not as glamorous, but is more practical.

I stopped at the shop because we'd had a pepper emergency that morning. We had run out of pepper. You'd think we'd run out of salt by the way Primo carried on. I explained to the clerk, a lady of a certain age much like myself, that my husband is a pepper fiend and that he had been quite distraught upon finding the pepper mill empty.

This is the Magnum pepper mill that his parents had sent him for his birthday a few years before and is probably the only present he has ever gotten from them, besides the cast-iron cat, that he has liked. Who spends $40 on a pepper mill? Better yet, who wants a pepper mill that costs $40? My usually low-maintenance husband, that's who. He is not demanding about what he eats (except that it be good, which is easy because I am a good cook who likes to cook) or about the state of the house or about what I wear or look like or about almost anything, but he likes pepper on his food. There you go. That's his thing. So when we ran out, he was not happy. Why hadn't I kept an inventory of peppercorns, he wanted to know?

I shrugged. I don't care about pepper. It's not at the top of my list.

Primo explained, "I had a roommate once who waited until he was out of things - food, toilet paper - toilet paper! before he would replace them!"

"Maybe I need to implement an inventory replenishment system like I learned in operations management in grad school," I said.

Quick story. Panos Kouvelis taught my operations management class. I loved that class. I loved the material.

I really liked Prof. Kouvelis. He was so cute with his neat sport coat and slacks and slick Italian shoes. I had a little crush on him. He was fun. Smart and quirky with this great subtle sense of humor. He wrote this formula on the board one day, then turned and looked at us. "I would say it's all Greek to me, but..." he deadpanned. I burst out laughing. I'm not sure if the other students got it. But I leaned on every word he said.

Back to the spice store. "A pound of Talicherry, please. We're a little on edge at our house these days," I sighed.

As she walked to the side of the store to retrieve the jar with the peppercorns, the clerk shook her head. "Men," she said.

"Yeah," I agreed. "I'm one and done."

"Me, too," she said. "I've been married. Never again. I want a companion, but not a husband. I have this boyfriend. I asked if he wanted to come over for dinner on Sunday. No. He can't. He wants to come on Monday. OK fine I said. I have Sunday and Monday off, so either day is fine. Then he said wait, he can't make Monday either. So how about next week? I said, nope, I'll be out of town. He gets all pouty and you know what? I don't care."

"Well, part of the reason is that my husband has decided to run for the state house."

"Oh!" she said. "Is he a lawyer?"

"No, he's an engineer."

She looked puzzled. "Will he be able to keep his job?"

I shook my head. "Definitely not. That's why it's rich people in politics. Ordinary people with ordinary jobs can't afford to do this, or at least ordinary people who aren't lawyers or who don't have really flexible jobs. The State House pays almost nothing. I can assure you he is not going into this for the money."

She scooped peppercorns into a plastic bag and put them on the scale.

"And we are of opposite political views."

She nodded sagely. "He's Stripes and you're Polka Dots?"

I shook my head. "No, he's Polka Dots and I'm Stripes."

She didn't say anything for a moment. Whatever.

"I never wanted this life. I have never been interested in being married to a politician or being involved in politics in any way. This morning, my husband asked me if I had known that he would be running for office when we met, what I would have done. I told him I would have looked a lot harder for a new job. I had just been laid off from my job when we met. I told him I probably wouldn't have married him."

She laughed.

"He's worried that the Polka Dots will hold it against him that he is married to a Stripe, which I think is stupid. If it bothers them so much that he is married to me, that is their problem. That it says far more about them than it does about me."

She nodded. "You'd think people would want someone who can get along with everyone."

I agreed. "You'd think."

"So are you going to support him?" she asked.

"I told him I would support him by helping him on his campaign, but that I won't endorse his ideas. I'll help with his website and nomination petitions and I'll be his treasurer, but I won't talk about his side's ideas. It would be a lie."

I looked at her. "So if you're a person who votes for Polka Dots, vote for him."

"I'm an independent," she said. "I look at the person."

"Then I can tell you this and I can say it with complete sincerity. My husband is a man of integrity and honesty. He will work hard for his constituents. He is running for this office because he wants to make a difference, not because he wants to make money. There. I just made my first pitch for him."

She smiled. "Ten dollars."

I handed her my money. She handed me my pepper.

That wasn't so hard.