OK, so I am a nervous wreck about the upcoming election. I admit it. I have no pride. I have always been the canary trilling in the mine shaft, dropping dead before she could tell all the miners she told them so. So what, big deal, I know my place in life.
We have two more presidential debates to go. I don’t know about the candidates, but I, for one, will need to be heavily sedated to get through them.
Half the people I know are talking about moving to Canada if the election doesn’t go their way — which is ridiculous. If you want to move to Canada, then move to Canada and stop talking about. Talking about moving to Canada is almost as boring as talking about writing or talking about not writing — and just about as effective. Spare me, spare the world.
But, wait. Where was I? Oh, yes, the debates. My friend Charlsa is so apoplectic about the election that she refuses to watch the debates. Instead, she and her husband are going to the movies to see Argo. I think this is a fine idea, except I’ve seen the movie and it was great, but it doesn’t exactly calm you down.
(If you want to find a movie that’s a bit more relaxing, I, personally, would recommend The Master. You’ll spend a couple of hours waiting for something to happen and everything to pull together, but it never does. Then you’ll leave the theater trying to figure out whether to blame yourself or the movie, since it’s supposed to be a masterpiece and what kind of moron are you if you don’t get it? My husband — who points out that any movie whose supporters rave about the cinematography is bound to be a sure loser — blamed the movie.)
Anyway, I see a real cottage industry springing up here for people like Charlsa and me. Movies to calm your pre-election jitters and induce narcolepsy. Manicures to repair your chewed and torn fingernails. Travel agents who will send you to boring places, preferably to locales that don’t get the Internet or cell-phone service, where nobody speaks English. Quacks who will medicate your existential presidential crisis.
In the meantime, my husband tells me to cool it. Presidents come, presidents go, the country survives. Skip the drama, breathe deeply, take the long view, we’ll be okay.
For a couple of milliseconds, I am calm. Too calm. But then, I begin to think about the long view and I get suspicious. I am one-quarter American Indian, after all! For centuries, palefaces like, say, my husband, have told us to calm down, breathe deeply, sign the treaty, smoke the peace pipe.
In the long run, as Keynes famously said, we are all dead. In the long view, Indians ended up on blighted reservations clutching a bunch of worthless beads and broken treaties.
I get it now. It’s all connected — mine shafts, debates, cinematography, Canada, peace pipes. Forget tranquility. I’d be crazy to calm down at a time like this.
Don’t ask for whom the canary sings; until November 6, it sings for thee.
(Copyright 2012 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read a less political post about bullying waiters and cosmeticians