Smile Politely

Like Pulling Teeth

I voted. They allowed that this year. You go out to the County Clerk’s office, say, “Mark, I know it’s weeks early, but hit me up,” and they let you do it right now. They even give you the sticker.

I tried to be first in line, but an older couple, obviously having dressed in the dark to beat me, claimed that privilege. It felt good to get it out of the way. Now I can stop studying CNN and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

Then, improbably and fortuitously, I broke a tooth. Since I don’t have to be around for election day, and since I broke a tooth, I have the perfect excuse to leave the country entirely. I no longer love it, so I am leaving it, just as people have sometimes-not-so-kindly requested of me over the years.

I am going to Mexico. That’s where my dentist lives. Or, I should say, that is where I can afford to go to the dentist. My Guatemalan crown, now seven years old, cost $60 and it still munches raw broccoli like a champion.

Some people think this election season is exciting. Or amusing: the entertainment event of the century! Others – those more closely aligned to my temperament – find it excruciating.

I can’t take it any more. Lee and I have stacks of movies backlogged to watch, French films (Claire Denis, extraordinaire!) and Korean films (Hong Sang-soo, amazing!) and all we see is the banal Sarah Palin, the real, the Fey, and the wannabe YouTube impersonators.

“I think they are starting up 12-step meetings for Sarah Palin addicts,” I said, trying to urge Lee off the couch and away from the television. She couldn’t hear me because she was arguing loudly with Lou Dobbs about ACORN.

“I will be drinking pulque from the stump of a cactus while you are counting votes,” I told her. No response.

“I will be writing my Smile Politely column from atop the Pyramid of the Sun,” I said. Nothing.

I turned on the computer and found the web page game of Sarah Palin as President. She is sitting in the Oval Office, throwing darts to choose a new child’s name, Carport or Cashew. You can help President Sarah burn books, drill for oil, go hunting, declare yourself a maverick, and other options, hidden on the site. I splattered Bambi a couple of times and then blew up the world with the red telephone.

“I’ll be reporting on election night from a cantina where my new amigos and I will be watching lucha libre reruns,” I said. “You’ll be watching Obama and McCain while I’ll be watching masked wrestlers.” Same difference?

She finally responded from the other room, “You’re going to miss everything.”

Maybe she’s right. For one thing, I’ll miss the gloating on November 5. I’m sure there will be gloating and I do not approve of it. I think right now the Obama people should hold a meeting with Paul Krugman, Toni Morrison, Al Gore and all the other Nobel Prize winners they can find and come up with a plan to help Republicans save face.

Maybe people will apologize after the election, and I’ll miss that. In an earnest effort to spur the change we’ve been promised, people should begin apologizing, even the ones who have nothing to be sorry for. AWARE activists should write a letter to the News-Gazette and apologize for being strident. Editor John Foreman should apologize to AWARE for the paper’s headline writer and the Letters to the Editor crazies.

John McCain should apologize for everything. “My friends, it’s true, I did support deregulation until I supported regulation. Here, take some of my money. Have a house.”

Obama should apologize for trying to bowl. Somebody should apologize for war in general, torture in general, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, spying, politicizing the judicial process, the culture of celebrity, Reaganomics, Watergate, the McCarthy hearings, Manifest Destiny, and the Chief.

Somebody should apologize to Sarah Palin and her future son-in-law Levi Johnston (America’s only political prisoner, according to Bill Maher) for putting them through this ridiculous wringer.

But that won’t happen. And, on the other hand, maybe the apocalypse will happen. Maybe McCain will get himself elected and collapse into a quivering puddle of excitement. Then Palin will become president, California will renege on all its same-sex marriages, Son of The Great Depression will open wide, and we’ll bomb Iran and Russia before next Easter.

If McCain wins, believe me, hablaré español hasta el fin del mundo. I’m never leaving the side of my dentist.

“So, are you watching the debate with me?” Lee called from the other room.

“Are you kidding?” I replied, shooting Bambi one more time. “Tonight is the season finale of Project Runway.”

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