Thursday, January 8, 2015

In which Primo marches up and down the square for Fourth of July

Primo was invited to march in a Fourth of July parade and he wanted to do it and he wanted me to walk with him and I said that is about the last thing I want to spend my time doing because the Fourth is a holiday and marching in a parade is not my idea of a good time.

Good Lord, man. I have books to read! I have a garden to tend! I have DVDs to watch!

But he asked again and again. Still, I said no way jose' unless you want this to be one of your three campaign events, which are now down to two campaign events because I went to that boring as heck event for the congresswoman.

And then a friend of his, Russell Crowe, decided to visit us, so arrived on Tuesday and was going to leave July 5th, which was fine except Primo has this nasty habit of running upstairs for just a minute when he has guests and I, who have been minding my own business, doing something on the computer, am suddenly the person who is responsible for entertaining the guest.

I don't mind if Primo's friends visit. I do mind when they visit and he abandons them to me. Yes, I like his friends and no, I don't mind if they visit, although as I pointed out to Primo, his friend, he gets to prepare the guest room and bathroom.

Primo replied that when he visited Russ, Russ's wife made up the bed and all the other stuff and I pointed out that Russ's wife does not have a job and they no longer have children at home so Russ's wife has time to prepare for guests. "If you are willing to be the sole earner in this house again," I said, "I will be more than happy to do all the guest prep."

He did not like that idea.

For someone so progressive, Primo has a rather odd idea of how a woman should function in her own home.

Primo convinced Russ to march in the parade with him and then I was guilted into it.

Oh wait. I wasn't done with Primo abandoning his guests. Sure enough, he did it the evening Russ arrived. Primo and Russ came into the house about five minutes before my friend Lois came over to deliver half a crate of peaches to me. She had gone to the peach place that afternoon and we were splitting a case. I went outside with her and we chatted for about ten minutes. When I came back into the house, Russ was alone in the kitchen. Primo had gone upstairs. "He just went to put something on facebook about the parade," Russ said.

"He has to do that right now?"

Russ shrugged.

"He said, 'for just a minute?'"

Russ laughed. "I have known Primo since 1986. I know what 'just a minute' from him means."

I like Russ. I enjoy talking to him. He is a wonderful houseguest and he is always welcome in my home, but I did not want to make idle chitchat with him right then. It was 7 p.m. I had just gotten off two hours of conference calls with HQ, which is not in Argentina, even though that's its blog country, but in a country where our awake hours overlap only after 5 p.m.  I had to go to work the next morning. I hadn't done anything since I had gotten home from work except change clothes and be on the calls. I had things of my own to do. But I couldn't just walk away from our guest.

Maybe I am not doing it right. What do you guys think? What is the proper etiquette about leaving a guest alone in your home? I don't care if I am accompanied every second when I am visiting someone, but I am very self sufficient. Also, Primo and Russ were on the way out. Russ was just waiting for Primo. It wasn't a good time for him to go for a walk or start reading a book or whatever.

Am I responsible for staying and talking to him? It seemed impossibly rude to leave him in the kitchen while I went to my room to read. So I stayed but was ticked off at Primo, who answered, when I suggested that he quit abandoning his guests to me (this has happened before), "Well what was I supposed to do? Have him come wait in my office?"

I told him that the solution was not to abandon the guest and perhaps do the facebook post later. He got indignant and informed me that he is busy and he had to do it then and we had a bit of an argument.

The rest of the weekend, I just made sure to be busy - like outside of the house busy - at points where I was pretty sure that Primo would abandon Russ. I would rather Russ think Primo rude than think me rude.

So back to the parade. Primo really wanted me to do it and I felt - I don't know - not guilty but somehow not supportive and I didn't realize it would be a two-hour ordeal so I agreed to do it.

You guys. There is nothing more boring than marching in a parade. Nothing. NOTHING.

Two miles of dull. Nothing interesting to see around us: we were way behind the baton twirlers (I didn't even know that girls twirled baton any more) and between the mattress company and the cub scouts.

The only thing that saved it was one of the guys walking with us is a freelance advertising guy and we talked about marketing and advertising strategy for some of the big companies in town. He has done work for all the biggies. He was interesting and he will be a good work contact, so that alone made it worth the time.

But the parade itself. It was hot and the sun was glaring, which almost never happens here, but of course, it would happen on the day that I had to be outside for two hours. It was boring. We couldn't hear the high school band because they were way ahead of us. We just walked down the street, each of us holding a "Primo for Congress" sign and Russ occasionally tossing candy to the kids sitting along the curb, holding their plastic bags for the loot.

(That is also new to me - that kids get candy during a parade and that this fact is so well known by everyone but me that they know to bring a bag? Every time I start to feel like there is nothing that could surprise me, I get surprised.)

I am rambling in this post, aren't I? It doesn't have much of a plot. It's more of a general whine. I guess I am a whiner.

The day ended nicely, though. My friends Ben and Jennifer just bought a farm about 45 minutes outside of town. They invited us to their Fourth party. We were excited to go because they discovered two months ago that not only did they buy a farm, they bought several pregnant barn cats. It has been kittenpalooza around there since April. Ben keeps posting photos of the kittens - so far, they are up to ten kittens with three mama cats, with another mama cat who has hidden her babies - and Primo has been dying to see them.

We had the kitten tour as soon as we got there. Then Primo got a photo of himself holding one of the kittens - he is cat obsessed - and posted it on his campaign page with the caption, "Kittens in Travis County support Primo for Congress."

One commenter said, "Well, if kittens like him, how can we not support him?"

The end.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

In which Primo and I devise a way for him to motivate people without lying

Primo and I were at a concert last night. While the band sang, "You Sexy Thing," he showed me the emails that had bugged him so much, giving the feedback not to him but to his campaign manager, Bruno, that Primo was "demotivating" people.

I read the emails. Gwyneth had written to Bruno (and then Bruno forwarded the note to Primo), after telling Primo to his face that he had done such a great job, a rather tactful note (I thought) that perhaps Primo shouldn't admit in the first few minutes of a speech that he wasn't going to win. "I could see peoples' facing falling," she wrote.

I asked Primo what he had said. "I didn't say I wasn't going to win! I said we needed to talk about what winning was!"

"Hmmm," I replied. "So it wasn't your intention to communicate that you can't win but to talk about the bigger picture. You didn't want to promise something that can't happen because you don't want to lie but you wanted to talk about how you fit into the bigger picture."

"Yes," he said. "I can't say I am going to win this race because I am not going to win this race."

"But they thought that's what you said."

"But I didn't!" he protested.

"I know," I said. "But somehow, that's what they got. And then Bruno writes to you that people want to have hope. Except anyone who can look at the data knows there is no chance at all that you will win this election. None."

Primo shook his head. "If I had known that they wanted me to tell people I was going to win, I never would have agreed to do this."

I nodded. "You don't want to lie. I don't want you to lie. You have to live with yourself when this is all over, so you want to conduct yourself with integrity. But you still want people to be motivated to work for the party overall, right?"

He nodded.

[Then we went through a lot of back and forth about how he was despondent over this and how being criticized for something you didn't think you had done wrong and then criticized via email is very hard to take and the band went through, "Play That Funky Music" and "The Night Chicago Died" and four other songs I can't remember.]

I rubbed the back of his head. He dropped his chin and sighed. "I wish I had never done this," he admitted. "It's just too hard. And now they are telling me things that I didn't think were part of the deal. I can't tell people to donate money to my campaign because they will be wasting their money. I don't want to do that. I don't want to mislead people."

[NB And that is why Primo is a very bad politician. He is not willing to lie to get what he wants.]

"They don't know any more than you do," I said. "None of them are political experts. And it's your name and your face out there. So you get to make the decisions. It's your reputation, not theirs. Everyone has their own agenda. There's nothing wrong with that. The people on the campaign team might want to be able to put on their resumes that they did X with this campaign. And that's fine. But in the end, you get to decide. And you don't have to feel bad about that."

He nodded.

"You need to be more like Bill Clinton."


"Not the sleeping around and the sexual harassment part. Not the perjury part. But the motivating people part. He is good at connecting with people and getting them excited. So how do you do that?"

I thought.

"I have an idea," I said. "Voters need to be motivated. But you can't motivate them by telling them you are going to win. What about this? When someone asks if you are going to win, you say, 'I would love to win and represent you in Congress. If I am elected' -- see, you are saying 'if.' You are not promising anything. 'If I am elected, I will work on these three issues.' Just change the subject. Focus on what you want to talk about. You do that with me all the time."

He smiled. "I wouldn't say that I would 'love' to win."

"Whatever. Use whatever words you want. But use that question to re-direct the conversation."

"But what if they keep asking? I can't keep doing that."

"Sure you can. And besides, remember, you are with people who are on your side. They are not trying to trip you up. You are not being interviewed by the opposition."


Then I had a brilliant idea. "Here's what you need to say! You need to own it. You need to be authentic. You don't need to dance around the issue. Just admit it! Just tell the truth. People want someone who is honest and authentic and it has already worked for you. Remember when I suggested you change your speech to admit you are not a storyteller, you are an engineer and you deal in facts? Well, here is another chance to own the issue. When someone asks if you can win, you tell them, 'This is a David and Goliath race. I am David. I am hoping for a miracle.'"

"I can't say 'miracle' because that implies I believe in God and I don't."

I rolled my eyes. "Whatever! Mr Can't See the Forest for the Trees! Use whatever words you want to express the idea. But David and Goliath is a great image and it works. Americans love the underdog."

"Maybe," he admitted.

"I think this could work. It is absolutely truthful. It would take a miracle for you to win. But if you did win, then you would do a, b, and c. Just tell them that. You are not lying. You are giving people hope, even though anyone with a brain can see that there is no chance that you would win. But you deflect the question with that answer and then move on to what people actually can do, which is to be sure to vote, to work for other candidates who do have a chance of winning, etcetera."

He smiled. "Maybe." Then we left so he could get a beer and he was not so cranky.

I don't think I could be a full-time political spouse. This is way too hard.