THURSTON KELP, POLITICAL ACTIVIST

dog phone headsetI made a political phone call. I did. Me. To someone else. When I was awake and everything.

You who know me understand that this action flies in the face of everything I have always stood for. In fact, it has always been my ambition never to pay any attention to politics under any circumstances, never, no matter what. For instance, I don’t believe I have ever mentioned a politician by name in these pages, for one very simple reason: mostly, I don’t know their names.

In years past, sometimes, I have voted, sometimes not; when I have voted, it has been because my wife -my bride, my sexual love partner, the original, one and only Mrs. Kelp (for whom I harbor unnatural affections) -asked me to, and specified my ideas on the subject, not overburdening me with motivation, but in most cases merely proferring a short written list. I take her suggestions invariably, for She is Wise, not to mention my sexual love partner; plus that means I don’t have to listen to any of the actual bozos themselves, which has worked out so well for me over the years, I can’t tell you.

Perhaps you may wonder what would cause me to suspend such a practical policy. Let’s see, how do I say this tactfully? It was fear that one of the candidates- I won’t say which one, in order not to outrage anyone- seemed uniquely unqualified (best not to mention which one she was exactly) -might have a chance of serving. I was apprehensive, concerned, queasy, all at the same time. Kinda jumpy.

I told my darling wife I was thinking of pitching in and making some phone calls for the opposite party (again, probably best not to identify the candidate precisely, lest I be knifed, shot or burned; for the sake of discretion we’ll just call him, “That One”), and what did she think of that idea. She commented that perhaps I had lost some of my crayons, and wondered how I, a person with no knowledge whatsoever of politics and current events, planned to answer spontaneous questions on those subjects intelligently. To my credit, I saw where she was coming from, and went back under the couch.

Much to my surprise, the nagging feeling that I should be pitching in somehow would not go away, and a few weeks later, at the urging of the 400th email from MoveOn, I actually made some calls. The first guy who answered was very nice, but I kept giggling, and had to excuse myself. Then, just to keep the laughs coming, I called my aged but still intermittently zesty parents, thinking they’d at least get a hoot out of it, but I only got about two sentences into my pre-written spiel before my mom, not recognizing my voice -and why would she, with those sentences! -said, “Oh, thank you, but we’ve already voted. Goodbye!” and hung up on me. Only my second political call, and already my own ma had declared me a total stranger!

I didn’t really make that many calls, probably just about twenty, and half of those to answering machines (the tip sheet specified not leaving messages, but I ended up leaving a couple, figuring you can’t ignore the answering machine vote), but they were all over, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Montana, Ohio -they’d give you the numbers and a little script if you wanted, which got tossed pretty quickly. “Hi, this is Thurston from Massachusetts, quite possibly the least politically informed person in the entire commonwealth, saying, vote for That One! I endorse him! Do what I say!” -this was just one of my angles.

I had some nice conversations. Actually, my mission was to get other supporters of That One who lived in swing states (swing states! -what a concept!) to actually drive somewhere to spend a few hours making phone calls to other voters in their regions. So the object of my phone call was to talk people into making more phone calls. Definitely talked to some nice folk, preaching to the choir, but jesus! -I was voluntarily making unsolicited political phone calls! What had become of me?

Luckily, after about twenty calls, I finally found the nicest guy in Florida who seemed to have been considering the idea anyway, and he said sure, he’d do it, and I was done. I had actually made a recruitment! At which point I gave up completely, probably never to return to activism. And even though my guy said in his acceptance speech that there was much hard work ahead, and that we’d all have to work together, I had already determined that it was unlikely I’d be all over that one, so anxious was I to return to my privileged life of social indolence and decay.

But hey, it sure was fun when he won, huh? Man, I’m telling you, that was a night.

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