November 6, 2012
The day began like any other, which is to say with a vigorous exercise regimen I have dubbed “P90SXY” —I was going to call it “No Jacket Required” because, upon completion, you would no longer have to wear a jacket to hide your trouble spots, but I underestimated just how litigious Phil Collins can be— followed by a tall glass of newly-Baptized souls. (Editor’s Note: I add a small dollop of honey for taste, because Sin is “the fat of the Soul”, and like fat, it’s where the taste is.) There was uneasiness in the air. My heart, like the nation, was torn as I pondered the 2012 Presidential election; the outcome of which would determine fundamental tenants upon which our society would operate: “trickle down” versus “inside-out” economics (you know, that’s the best way to get your shooters open on the perimeter); women’s rights (do they get to keep them?); the Supreme Court (will they remain together or will they splinter off and help launch The Jackson 5); and, perhaps just as important, though rarely reported, how comfortable people would be around me for the next four years.
Though those other topics are important, I will be focusing on people’s relative comfort around yours truly. Why? Because there are entirely too few people focused on what the results of the election would mean to one Damion C. McCloud. (Why one, because two is three more than one world can handle…Yeah, you read that right. My awesome, like my sexy, cannot be confined by the laws and postulations of Math.)
Since I had no meetings, and no desire to put on pants before absolutely necessary, I spent the morning working from home. When the clock struck 10:30, a mere hour after I had gotten out of bed, (Editor’s Note: I kid. I kid, because I love…love my job. So much so that I don’t often sleep, and when I do, I sleep with my work laptop…which explains the awkward keystrokes in many of my presentations.) I switched out of my robe and lounge pants and into a collared shirt and pleated khaki. Nothing says, “I’m about to make a serious decision that could alter the course of, not only my life, but the lives of countless others” like a pleated khaki. I grabbed my keys, wallet, sunglasses (to soften the glare of admiration that emanates from my public), seven forms of ID (four of which were legit) and headed to my local voting center. There are three great things about where I go to “Voice My Choice”: First of all, I can walk to it, thereby leaving a healthier planet for future generations. I don’t, because if those generations think the planet is going to be here forever, there will be less incentive to innovate now…you’re welcome. Secondly, no matter what time of day I’ve gone to vote --and I only vote in the big elections, because…you get it-- there are never long lines. I later realized that the reason there were never long lines was due, in part, to the fact that there is a voting location on either end of my street: one at a church; the other at an elementary school. My voting location happens to be the elementary school. This is mainly due to the fact that the school is closer to my home…and partly due to the fact that drinking in Souls is frowned upon by The Church and members of its Congregation. Thirdly, and related to number two, is that there are a lot of single moms going in and out of an elementary school. It’s like a Target without the product placement. How do I know they’re single? I don’t. I just assume they are, because it makes the fantasy work. It’s like when you see an attractive, young woman in a restaurant, at a park, or through a set of binoculars from within the warm confines of a white, panel van. You tell yourself she’s in her 20s, because it makes things less creepy. And, let’s be honest, when your sitting on an old mattress in the back of van, staring through a set a binoculars at your local park, while listening to old Britney Spears albums, you need to do whatever you can to make things less creepy. But I digress…
As I finished my half-mile trek (by car) to my voting area, I couldn’t help but notice the preponderance of available parking spaces, the absence of a line, and a brunette with three kids in tow making her way to the entrance. I parked my car, locked the doors, and headed to the voting arena. Once inside, I made my way to the gymnasium. It was not the multi-purpose cafetorinasium, or cafenasitorium depending on your school’s priorities, of my youth but a single purpose structure. (Hey, “other half”, how ya livin’?) After handing over my voter registration card and driver’s license and reciting my name and address to prove my identity (because I couldn’t have memorized the information while sitting in my car) I was directed to the open voting booth. (Editor’s Note: I kept from having to get glasses until the 4th grade, because I memorized the eye chart. Would’ve been longer, but my mom had volunteered to help administer the test that year and, as moms do, quickly caught on to my tactics. Here’s a thought, change up the eye chart every once in awhile. Are we worried about cost, because I’m pretty sure that chart hasn’t changed since its inception.)
I stood at the “booth” with pen in hand. Sweat poured from my pronounced brow and dripped off of my chiseled features onto the Scantron sheet below. I was frozen; flashing back to the 2nd grade when I was instructed that a correct answer marked incorrectly would be counted as incorrect. What if I colored outside of the lines or made a mark on the sheet that was misread by the computer. Could I derail an election? A nation??? A calm soon came over me as I reminded myself that I had filled out many such “bubbles” with a variety of writing implements. Now that my fears regarding the mechanics of the decision had been allayed, the only thing left was to decide which bubbles to fill in. The first decision was for President of the
. Obama or Romney? Romney or Obama? For the uninformed outside observer (i.e. Fox News pundits and the people who believe them) the choice was obvious. I’m a Blackfrican-American Negro. Of course, I was voting for Obama. However, I am also a registered Republican. I don’t believe I’ve ever voted for a Republican Presidential candidate, but I am still registered as a Republican. It may be that I still hold out hope for a better Republican party. A Republican Party that will buy back its soul from the Religious Right and focus on policies which are fiscally responsible and socially respectful. Either that, or I just hate filling out paperwork. The questions that would finalize my decision boiled down to two themes: 1) Was I better off now than I was four years ago? And 2) Whose administration would make the next four years (even) better? (I actually believe that the first question is a flawed Reagan-era question that should be focused more on how the nation as a whole is performing rather than a single individual, because it forces people to look at something greater than themselves, which is how you affect real change. However, that type of thinking doesn’t fit in with my humor narrative, and, as I mentioned before, this is all about me.) United States
Was I better off than I was four years ago? That was difficult to answer. On the one hand, I’m a homeowner with a good job, a luxury car that’s paid for , and plans to purchase a second luxury car within the next year. I appreciate the fact that all black people received a “get out of jail free card” as a form of reparations. (It only applied to people who had not previously committed a crime –including buying or selling bootleg DVDs, were not in a criminal proceeding prior to Obama being sworn in, denounced the O.J. verdict, and didn’t find Tyler Perry movies funny, so that left about 15 people.) I’ve also grown my “network of ladies”, but that’d happen under any Administration, because…you get it. On the other hand, the Obama Presidency also had unforeseen negative impacts. To put it bluntly, people had grown comfortable around me…too comfortable. And this comfort made me uncomfortable. People used to fear me: the brooding, the unchanging countenance, the proper “distance” afforded a 6-foot 3-inch 240+ pound man. Since The Inauguration, everything’s changed. People no longer fear me. [Non-female] Strangers start conversations with me for no reason. People sit down next to me without inquiring whether or not the seat is taken and when other seats, much farther away from me, were available. Caucasian parents want me to date their daughters, because, hey, I could be President. (Well, not me, because…Souls.) That, in turn, got rid of a portion of my dating demographic, namely, women trying to get back at their parents. Could I handle four more years of this…social ease? I made my decision and marked my ballot accordingly.
There were two other races, as well as two Amendments on which to vote. I motioned for one of the volunteers to come over.
“Is there something I can help you with?” she asked.
“Yes, are any of these people black?”
“I don’t believe so.”
“Any of them married to a black person?”
“I don’t believe so.”
“Any of them have a black best friend?”
“Could ya Google it?”
“Can I Google it?”
“I’d rather you didn’t.”
“Well, unfortunately for you, you’re not the first woman to say that to me…and you’re not the first woman whose gonna be left unsatisfied and disappointed by my actions.”
“Sir, do I have to call Security?”
“Fine! Do you have a dart?”
After scribbling in some random guesses –fortunately, I had my Magic 8 ball, which I believed, because it’s black-- I soft-shoed over to the vote-counting machine and handed my tear-stained Scantron sheet to some dude who handed me a sticker; a sticker which I proudly displayed on my left breast coat pocket. I usually don’t advertise the fact that I voted, but there was a sense of pride that I felt from having helped shape our nation’s future. I also wanted to serve as an example to our nation’s young people. (Editor’s Note: There is absolutely no correlation between the fact that Hooters and the Tilted Kilt were offering discounts on meals to anyone who came in with an “I Voted” sticker and my wearing said sticker.)For the rest of the day, I avoided social-media, the interwebs, and news coverage. I went so far as to watch “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, a franchise Nicolas Cage will eventually ruin until Christian Bale is called in to save it. I waited until 11:00 to watch the only news coverage that would not make me want to punch my fellow man square in the face; “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report”. Near the end of “The Daily Show”, it was announced that Barack Obama had successfully defended his 2008 National Championship. And, thus, four more years of people being uncomfortably comfortable around me. Where the white women at?