Sunday, February 24, 2013

Saturday Sept 1 We canvass at the house of the old man

Bless his heart. That's what I would say about this 90 year old man whose house we visited. He and his wife and their adult son, who has some mild autism, live a few blocks from us. I have seen the son a lot since we moved here: he takes a lot of walks and he goes to my church. Any time I chat with him, he is focused on an issue: the weather, the Detroit Lions, something. That's what we talk about.

Today, he was out working in the yard. I introduced Primo to him and explained that Primo was running for the state house.

"Reagan won because there were hostages in Iran," he said. "Fifty-two hostages! We said let them go or we'll blow you up!"

I nodded. He continued. "The hostages! That's why he won!"

Then he switched to health insurance. "We need better health insurance!"

I nodded again.

"Fifty two hostages!"

Then he announced that we should talk to his mother, whom the voter list indicated was 88 years old. Primo rang the back doorbell and the mother slowly shuffled to the door. As soon as she heard that Primo was a Polka Dot, she perked up. "We always vote Polka Dot!" she said brightly. "We don't get out much any more - we don't even go to church, but we always vote!"

"I would appreciate your vote in November, ma'am," Primo said.

I chimed in. "Would you like a yard sign?"

She thought for a minute. "You'll have to ask my husband. Go to the front door and I'll see if I can get him to come."

Primo walked to the front door. The son started talking to me again, this time explaining why he was using an electric edger instead of a gas one. "No gas fumes!" he said. "No gas stains on your clothes!"

"That's good," I said in agreement, as I walked to the front door.

"I don't like gas stains," he announced.

"Neither do I," I said.

"Or the fumes!"

The father opened the door and invited us in. We stepped just inside, but he didn't step back any further, so Primo and I were trapped between the screen door, the door, and the old man's walker.

"I always vote Polka Dot," he said. "Always! Why, when I was a young man, I was an Extreme Polka Dot! I went to all the meetings! Back when [Significant Historical Figure for our town that nobody outside of here would recognize] was running them. Even before he was mayor!"

"Wow!" I said.


"Wow! That's neat!"

He said proudly, "I knew [Other Major Historical Figure]."

"Oh!" I said. "They named the bridge after him!"



"That was after his brother was elected mayor."

Primo and I looked at each other, puzzled. That one we couldn't figure out.

"I would appreciate your vote in November," Primo said.

"What?" the old man asked.

"Your vote."

"You're voting?"

"No. I'm running. I would like you to vote for me."

The old man looked at him funny. "I always vote for Polka Dots."

"Thank you, sir," Primo said.

"What? I'm hard of hearing," the old man explained.

By then, I was sweating. I had put on a jacket to do doors because it was windy and cool outside, but the old people had the heat cranked.

"THANK YOU!" Primo repeated.

"Would you be willing to put up a yard sign?" I asked.


"Put a yard sign. In your yard."

"Oh!" He shook his head. "No. The neighbors fuss, you know. No, I don't think so." [Even though this is a highly PD neighborhood.]

"OK, then. I appreciate your vote."



"I always vote Polka Dots! When I was a kid, I was in the Extreme Polka Dots club!"

I reached for his hand. "Mr Neighbor, it has been such a pleasure talking to you and hearing your stories. Thank you for taking the time. Goodbye now!"



Primo and I walked out. There was the son. "I hate gas fumes!"

I smiled at the son and said, "See you around, P!"

Primo shook his head. "I guess they'll vote for me."

"No doubt about that! He always votes Polka Dot!"


  1. Can you vote by post? I don't see any of them galloping towards a polling booth, come November.

    1. I think you can request an absentee ballot by mail. It is also possible to vote early at City Hall.

      I dated a guy whose mother had a terminal illness. She died shortly before the presidential election. She knew she was going to die. But she made sure to get her absentee ballot in! (She also had arranged and paid for her funeral and she left cash for my boyfriend to pay for the death certificates. She was one organized, considerate lady.)