During the Summer of Starvation in 2004, I was living alone at the off-campus home I would eventually share with 10 other mutants for my final year at the University of Scranton. One morning, a day off from my job as a sometimes — but not always — competent beer deliveryman, I was awoken by the sound of a person knocking on the front door.
I assumed it was my landlord Al, a generally nice enough guy who had soured on me a week or so earlier when I randomly decided one day to paint the white walls of my room barnyard red. I still forget why, exactly, I decided to do this — my explanation when people asked was that the final product was supposed to feature a mural of the Yalta Conference — but, whatever my reasons, he did not approve, and left me an expletive-laden voicemail (“I almost shit a fuckin’ brick”) expressing his disapproval. We had since moved past this unfortunate episode, but the relationship was never the same.
Anyway, it wasn’t Al waiting for me when I slowly crawled off my sad air mattress and opened the door, but an older woman holding a clipboard. She greeted me with a question I was not expecting:
“Who has your vote for president in the upcoming election?”
Now, as a mostly oblivious 20-year-old white college dude at the time, I was — shock of all shocks — not the most politically engaged human being. I did, however, have an answer I thought was 100% going to get this lady to leave and allow me to crawl back onto my sad air mattress to sleep for a few more hours:
“Oh, George W. Bush. Definitely.”
Instead of an awkward pause and then, “Oh.” Or a shaking of her head and a “Tsk, tsk.” She said: “Splendid! And have you registered to vote?”
She handed me the registration form, saying if I filled it out, she’d mail it and I’d be set. Since I knew I was certainly too lazy to mail it out myself, I did. I gave it back to her.
“Under party affiliation, you put Independent.”
“But you said you were going to vote for Bush.”
“I said if I had to vote right now I’d vote for Bush. It’s July.”
“Oh.” Awkward pause. (Where was this five minutes ago!) “OK.”
As she walked off my porch and down Clay Ave., I was convinced that form was going right into the nearest trash can. But a few weeks later, my registration card showed up. And that November, I voted.
What I’m trying to say on this, the day of our 2016 presidential election, is: Painting a mural of the Yalta Conference on your bedroom wall is a great idea, and I think everyone should do it.