Wednesday, May 23, 2012
This week's challenge: Using between 33 and 333 words, write a response including the third definition of the word:
Our candidate was a most proper man, a throwback to another day and age. He even signed his personal correspondence with a fountain pen.
So the contrast between his gentle manner and the mad buzz his presence generated on the campaign trail always surprised me. For the staff working this event, the energy had a fillip of stress. Where is he? How many minutes away? We have to get the talking points to the press! And what the hell? People with signs should be behind the podium, dammit!
This last was my responsibility. The supporters with signs belonged behind the candidate because that’s how their hand-lettered messages of support get photographed with our man. But the homemade posters were brought not by campaign workers but involved citizens. Getting this sincere, excited but unruly bunch to do anything was like, as they say, herding cats. Convincing them how fabulous it is to be stuck behind the candidate, seeing nothing but the back of his perfectly coiffed head as he spoke, was almost impossible.
“Let’s go, everybody, please!” I said with assumptive cheer. “We want your beautiful signs on the evening news! Let’s get on the risers behind the podium!”
I was invisible to most of this enthusiastic throng. I mean, anyone who isn’t the candidate seems pretty irrelevant at times like this. I understand. After all, before I joined the campaign staff, I was one of them.
But one sign holder did hear me and her response was chilling. She was in her 30s but her poster was very childish – a sloppy US flag with the candidate’s name in block letters. When I asked her to move behind the podium, our eyes locked and I saw something wild, angry and even a bit desperate. “Why are you moving me? What is this? Tiananmen Square?”
I suddenly decided she really shouldn’t be in such close proximity to our candidate, after all. And I was very grateful for the Secret Service.