If we didn’t have children, I’d be a lot better informed. Or, perhaps, if B and I went on more dates – but not ones to see a movie.
Backing up to explain my point. (Beep beep beep.) I’m not good at politics. My brain tends to curl up in a little ball (even more, I mean) and sing “la la laaaa” when people talk about politics. I don’t know why, but it’s always been this way. When I read the newspaper, in hard copy or online, I scan the headlines and look at the pictures, and then skip to the Style section. I am much more likely to retain a quote I saw in passing about Christian Louboutin’s red-soled high heels than who has dropped out of the Republican race and who’s still in the running.
(Partly, and I have to parenthesise even more here in a whole paragraph of its own, this is because they all have stupid pretend names that I can’t distinguish from one another. I mean: Mitt (short for Mitten?), Newt (short for Lizard?) – what’s the difference? I only discovered this morning that Rush Limbaugh is not actually another candidate – he sounds like a candidate, doesn’t he? And I know Rick Santorum because of the Dan Savage thing years ago, but I still have no clear idea of how their policies stand or what they’re like as people. Admittedly, this is because I don’t read the articles, but it’s also because even if I did I’d forget whether I was reading about Mitt or Newt or some other guy. As far as I’m concerned they’re all crazy right-wing Republicans, and that’s all I need to know. Surely none of them will ever actually get into power.)
The average member of the Irish general public knows a lot more about the American political situation than I do right now. This was made painfully clear when B’s uncle asked me while we were in Ireland what I thought of the candidates, and I really had nothing to say. I mean, I still have nothing to say. What is there to think, other than that no reasonable person would vote for any of them? Do I really have to waste time finding out more? I tried to fall back on a joke, saying that I look to my husband for guidance in such matters, but unfortunately I was seated on the side of the uncle’s deaf ear, and by the time I’d repeated it clearly, it made me sound like just the sort of wife these candidates seem to want me to be, which I promise was not my intention.
But the thing is that B is one of the few people (as well as all of you, now, but you don’t exist in real life, do you?) to whom I’ll admit the depths of my ignorance on subjects like this, and let inform me of all the things most people know already. He’s very good at explaining things from first principles, which usually leads to more information than one needed, but in this case is exactly what I want. I mean, I know the basics of Democrats v Republicans, and which one Obama is and which one the Bushes were, but beyond that whatever you can tell me is probably good information. And I respect B’s principles and we have pretty much the same views on things, so to be honest, if he told me how to vote I’d probably find after doing some research that I came to the same conclusions.
And then, of course, there’s the fact that as non-citizens, neither of us do have a vote of any type in this country. As non-residents, we don’t have a vote in our home country either, as Ireland does not do postal votes. But there’s an unofficial online voting campaign that has happened for the last two elections, and I have researched the candidates running in my home constituency and decided who I would vote for there. Exercising my right to vote has always been important to me, even if all I could do for sure was to help try to keep the obviously crazy candidates out of power.
So when I see headlines like this one (pulled from my Facebook feed just now): “Alabama State Senator Proposes Legislation to Prohibit ‘Women and Non-Whites’ From Voting,” I go, “Oh, come on,” and don’t click it because I don’t even want to validate its existence by reading about it. And, I suppose, as a married woman for whom another pregnancy would not be a wholesale disaster, I’m in the happy position of not feeling too immediately personally affected by all the utter bullshit that the old white men are trying to come up with right now. But I have a daughter, and if the US turns out to be more backward about women’s reproductive rights than even my home country,* I’m going to have to start paying attention.
(*Did you know that abortion of any kind is still illegal in Ireland? (Read this. It’s an eye-opener.) Before 1985 you needed a prescription to buy a condom there. Divorce came in in 1996. Most of the schools are run by the Catholic Church… all this I’m used to, this I can deal with, though it’s far from ideal.)
Which brings me to today. Today I put on what I believe are called “dress trousers” – that is, the sort of thing I used to wear to my semi-casual workplace, and a necklace (and also a top and a cardigan, and a bra too, but I’m just not mentioning that because I do usually wear a bra and also a top, as opposed to the other things which are less frequently disported these days) and boots with a bit of a heel, and tried to look like a responsible adult, because B and I went to talk to a lawyer about doing that ultimate responsible adult thing of making a will. (Finally. After meaning to do it for six years or so now. I know, I know.) I suppose I could have gone in my jeans and my sneakers just like any other day, but I felt the need to be in my “professional” guise. It’s funny, it had been so long since I’d dressed that way that the word that came to mind when I looked in the mirror was “mannish”. I changed my cardigan for a lighter colour, put on the jewellery and some lipstick, and hoped for the best. I think it was just the unfamiliar silhouette that wierded me out.
Anyway, we dropped the children to their respective schools and went to meet the nice man, who turned out to be the perfect conjunction of older enough to make us feel like he knows what he’s talking about, and not so old that we felt he’d be better engaged polishing up the codicils of his own will rather than ours. As we left, he congratulated us on doing the responsible adult thing. I felt like wailing, “But we’re nearly 40!” At what point do we actually become responsible adults in the eyes of the older generation?
And then, since we still had half an hour to kill, we went and had a coffee date at Starbucks and pretended to be having a business meeting like the other businessly-dressed people there. I have no idea when the last time I sat and had a coffee in public with my husband without fielding constant demands for chocolate milk and lemon pound cake was, and it was very nice. It also enabled him to give me a quick overview of the Republican candidates, and a quick update on the fact that Rush Limbaugh isn’t actually one of them.
As soon as we got Mabel from school though, the discussion was peppered with “Mummy!” and “Stop talking!” and “When I was in the sandbox I looked for Anne but I couldn’t find her…” and “Nobody is allowed talk!” and other such imperious demands. Which is why we don’t usually get to have conversations.
Now, where’s that babysitter’s e-mail again?
Note: I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my offhand dismissal of all Republican politicians as crazies. Your views are your own, and mine, as I am pointing out, are all but non-existent. I’m trying to remedy this, so that I have actual opinions the better with which to offend you. I mean, other people who aren’t reading this.