Stiff Upper Lip

Election Day is in 48 hours and I’m anxious.

I’m having a party on Tuesday night – a feelings-drinking party, champagne if Obama wins, your personal sad drink if Romney wins, with the exception of my one Republican friend. Last night, drunk, I told my friend Mike that if Romney wins, he’ll want to leave right away. He won’t want to see me. I promised weeping and wailing, sobbing in the streets. I meant it, too.

I went to bed and dreamed about not being able to vote, about standing in line juggling weird forms in an office that looked like my high school. I dreamed that Bush won somehow and I sat at a desk frantically calculating how that could possibly happen because he’d definitely served too many years already to run again. I woke up irritated.

This morning I asked my mother who she was voting for, out of curiosity. My mom is one of those low-information voters we talked about on the radio last week. She told me it was none of my business.

“OK,” I said, surprised by this reaction from the least confrontational person I know. “You don’t have to tell me. I was just wondering.”

“I don’t have to tell you?” Now she’s surprised. Now we’re in familiar territory; she expects to be bullied.

“No, of  course not. I was just wondering.”

“I don’t like either of them.” She blurts out. “I might just go eenie-meenie-miney-mo.”

“Oh God,” I said, “don’t do that. You can vote for Romney if you really think he’s the better choice, but don’t throw it away.”

Now that I’ve given her permission, she tells me; she’s voting for Romney. OK. Deep breath. “OK. Cool. I was just curious.”

I think some unkind, unfair things. My mom has voted the same way as the man in her life – first my dad, now the equally-conservative boyfriend Nick – for as long as I can remember. Last year Nick went Obama for no discernible reason, and Mom did too. Now Romney. OK.

I think back to 2004, when my dad learned his mom was voting for Kerry and threw a hissy fit. I remember him in our kitchen, pacing with the cordless phone, screaming at her. He said if Kerry wins, he’s moving our family to Texas. His mom probably laughed at him – Kerry will still be president in Texas. She wasn’t fazed. She was the kind of mother who let him hold his breath in the grocery store until he passed out, and this wasn’t any different. But at 13, I was petrified. I don’t want to go to Texas! I’d have never seen my school friends again.

I silently, briefly, obnoxiously congratulated myself on being more mature and respectful towards my mother at age 21 than my dad was in his 40s, then pulled my shit together. Dad didn’t move us to Texas when Obama won, and he didn’t do any weeping and wailing that I witnessed, though sometimes if we’re fighting he’ll yell at me for making Obama president even though I was 17 during that election and couldn’t vote.

But frankly, those kinds of dramatics do nothing for anybody – and would certainly have been inconsiderate to my one Republican friend, who is attending my party because I told him he was welcome. If Romney wins, I will tell people it’s going to be OK. We’re going to be OK. As honestly as I think a Romney presidency would suck for me and most of the people I care about, we’ve all been through things that sucked. I will try to be very stereotypically British about it. I will nurse my hangover with some tea. I will take up meditation and watch the news selectively and work very hard to donate a little money to the places that will be hurting for money if Romney wins the presidency, and the world will not be over and we will all keep calm and carry on.


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