Something else happened at the campaign launch that I want to tell you about. The guy who is running in the next district showed up with some political junkie friends of his. I told you I was manning (or womanning) the registration table, but I had stepped away with my key lime martini so I could get some sweet potato fries before they were all gone. I saw one of the political friends walk in, scowl on her face.
I recognized her. Immediately.
I've mentioned I'm on a board in our city. Because I do not want people to figure out who I am or who Primo is or where we are, let's just call it the We Love Kittens Board. It's a board that makes decisions on issues that are mostly uncontroversial. Who hates kittens? Only really mean people. Most people love kittens and puppies and other baby animals. The board is dedicated to furthering the cause of kittens.
However. Sometimes, rarely, but unfortunately for me, now, there are very hard kitten decisions to be made. Nobody wants to make those decisions. Everyone on the board loves kittens. Nobody wants anything bad to happen to kittens. We would not be on this volunteer board that sucks up three hours a month if we did. But there is an issue facing the board that might involve not killing kittens - Wait. Yes. It is essentially killing kittens. A kitten to keep the entire litter from dying. As in, we have a choice: kill one of the kittens or watch them all die of starvation.
A horrible, horrible choice and one nobody wants to make. WE LOVE KITTENS!
But we may have to make this decision. I don't know yet - the group that wants to kill the kitten has not made a formal proposal to the board.
They have, however, had several informational presentations over the past six months. These presentations have been open to the public, as they are at our regular board meetings and the meetings are open. Some of the public is very pro-kitten. Which is fine - so is the board.
But some of the public is not so nice in the way that they express their support of kittens.
Most of the public that speak at the meetings are polite. They express their concern about the possibility of killing a kitten and ask if there are no alternatives, such as finding someone really, really rich to pay for all the kittens or raising city taxes so the city can adopt the kittens.
But this one woman - I am going to call her Bella - who drips with venom every time she opens her mouth. She has attended every informational session and has had something to say at each one. She is always the first to the microphone. We all wince when opens her mouth, because implicit in her every sentence is the statement, "You all HATE kittens and WANT TO SEE THEM DIE!"
There is a history there that goes beyond the kittens. Bella used to work for the city but was let go. You guys know how hard it is to fire a government employee. Well, she was enough of a problem that they fired her. I don't know any other details besides that. Just that she was let go. Maybe they eliminated her position, but I do know that not many city employees shed a tear upon her departure.
So Bella has an ax to grind. She's mad at the city and she's mad at the board because - I don't know why. I just know that a few board members have made comments to the public at the end of the meeting where it's pretty clear they are talking about her, comments where they say that bitterness and acrimony will not solve this problem and that speaking to a group of volunteers and insinuating that they are acting in bad faith in collusion with the potential kitten killers is perhaps not the nicest thing to do.
Not to mention if you want to convince someone to your side, which in theory, Bella is trying to do - she wants us to vote against the kitten killing, it's not a good idea to be nasty to him.
A few days after the past informational meeting, I got an email from Primo's friend who is running in the next district. He said, "I'm friends with Bella and I, too, love kittens. She has all the inside scoop on what happened when she was still working for the city and they were in initial talks with the kitten killers. Would you like to meet her and discuss?"
My first instinct was to say, "I would rather be dropped into a pit of rattlesnakes," but I realized that was probably not the right thing to say.
After some thought, I wrote a polite note that any legal agreements made during the negotiations would be available to the board once we started deliberations. There. Nice. Polite. Gets me the same result of not having to spend a minute of time with the bitter, vicious Bella.
Imagine my shock when Bella walked into the party. Scowling. Angry. I turned my back. I didn't know if she would recognize me from the board meetings, but she might. Sometimes, you don't recognize people out of context, especially nameless potential kitten killers.
But I had to know why she was at the party. I listened hard. It took only a few minutes for someone to ask her what kind of work she did. (A question that I find rude - maybe most people are just looking for some kind of commonality, but not everyone has a job and not everyone who does not have a job is unemployed intentionally, plus I think the asker often wants to place the person socially to decide if she is worth his time.) I heard Bella's bitter answer: "I used to work for the city, but I don't have a job now."
I edged away. I did not want to talk about politics. (I know - I was at a political event.) I did not want to talk about the board. I did not want to talk about killing kittens. I especially did not want to be lectured by someone who was convinced I was in the back pocket of the kitten killers and couldn't wait to kill not just one, but an entire litter of kittens.
So there was no drama after all, but only because I was smart enough to get away in time. She never did get signed in or put on a name tag.