Tuesday, November 07, 2006
We vote in a garage. Not a place where mechanics fix cars-- the neighbor's garage. Like most polling places it is run by the elderly. The very, very elderly. I remember a kid years ago who brought a toy to school from a cartoon called "He-Man". The toy was the the bad guy, "Skeletor". I always think of him when I'm talking to the people who are sitting in the garage. "Hello, Skeletor," I think to myself as I approach.
The garage is in what we here in Los Angeles call a 'McMansion'. This simply means build the biggest house you possibly can on a tiny lot. You' d be amazed at how much house can be stacked up on there when you use every inch. It seems odd to me, considering the weather is virtually always lovely (even on a bad day unless you live in fire territory or mudslide county), that people would opt to have no back yard. Or front yard. The people at the voting garage McMansion actually use the tiny strip of ground on the side of the driveway for a vegetable garden. They don't notice their own yearning.
I notice their garage is big enough to hold an election.
We took Sister Mary Fiacre along for the ride, since we can just stroll over there. She's always a hit with the people at the polls. Everyone talks to her. No one seems to care that she is more or less unresponsive. It seems to encourage people even more to speak to her as though she were five years old or so, or as though she didn't speak English, in that way people have with non-English speakers, speaking loudly and slowly so the foreigners will suddenly understand the meaning of words they've never heard.
I could tell that the Fiacre chatter behind us was horribly distracting to Sister St. Aloysius as she tried to vote. We don't go behind curtains. If only they did. I could roll Sister Mary Fiacre in there and no one would be the wiser. The only curtains in the McMansion garage are there to hide the junk these people keep in their garage. Which is always fascinating. Why keep that beat up snooze alarm? Is there a garage in America without one? Why are there always minute paint splatters on it?
Anyhow, I could see by Sister St. Aloysius' body language that she was getting more and more tense at all the baby talk and left over Halloween candy going on behind us. Sister Mary Fiacre loves her sweets but we can't just stuff her with candy and cookies, willy nilly. I wasn't concerned that sister St. Aloysius would blow her stack or anything like that. She never blames anyone esle for her woes. But I was concerned that as she grew more and more flustered ....we'd never get out of here. Ever. I can only stare at the stacked up paint stains on the snooze alarm for so long.
Sister St. Aloysius takes her voting very seriously. She studied the voter's guide for days after it came, highlighted things with a yellow marker, read all the propositions, read all the arguments pro and con, noted who was making these arguments, agonized as to whether she should stick it to smokers with the proposed $2.60 cigarette tax.
Then in typically "you had me, you had me, you lost me" Sister St. Aloysius fashion, she didn't take any of these materials with her as a reference. Her idea was that the whole point of all this study was to know the issues. It was as though she was taking an exam and not knowing the answers cold would be cheating.
I fail to see how this would be cheating. The whole point is to cast your vote in the way you choose. It's not a test on how many facts you can retain and relate them to numbers 1A through E.
Which is exactly what happened. In her zeal to study the propositions she didn't memorize what number or letter went with each proposal. Even that is not a disaster, since there is a little sentence with each proposal to explain it. With all her study, that should be plenty.
And I'm sure it would have been had it not been for the Sister Mary Fiacre symphony of sound. The candy wrappers, the introductions to entering voters, more candy wrappers, the constant use of the royal 'we', "Sister! (what's her name? Fiacre? is that French?) how are WE today?"
I can only hope for my own voting that my guardian angel guided my handthe way God protects the Church from a teenage Pope. Heaven only knows what I voted for. I punched holes as fast as I could, skipped all the judges I didn't know, which was most of them and stuck it to the smokers. Then I zoomed Sister Mary Fiacre out for 'some air', even though we were more or less outside anyhow.
I marveled at the vegetable strip and felt a pang of guilt for that lady out there smoking.