Sunday, September 28, 2014

Democracy takes a good licking

The lady on our front porch hugged her clipboard and waited for the lashing to stop.

“She’s friendly, she’s friendly.  Sorry.  No, Memphis, down,” I said.  The dog greeted our new guest as if she was made of beef jerky, running circles around her, sniffing and licking with a rather presumptuous lack of inhibition.

“It’s okay,” the lady replied, grimacing as the inspection and tail-flogging proceeded.  She may have been especially leery because a moment prior, Memphis had erupted into an insane barking frenzy, skidding into the front door like she was conducting a canine crash test.

Having a dog that barks when someone rings the doorbell is like having an app that rings your phone to let you know that your phone is ringing.  It’s all rather redundant, but Memphis doesn’t let our perfectly serviceable visitor-alerting device put her out of a job.  To her credit, the professional dedication she applies to freaking out gives our family great peace of mind against burglars who may try to sneak in after ringing our doorbell.

Behind me, my two sons played with their wooden train tracks in the entryway. 

“There, at least this stranger can see that some members of this family are capable of behaving themselves,” I thought, beaming with fatherly pride.

“Mah train,” two-year-old Zack said, grabbing the locomotive.

“No, MY train!” five-year-old Evan yelled.

“NO MAH TRAIN!” Zack rebutted.  Evan’s reply, as you might imagine, echoed similar sentiments to both of their earlier arguments, but with more volume. 

Most of the time, our sons go together like peas and carrots.  Other times, more like Mentos and Diet Coke. 

“Sorry, you caught us right before dinner,” I said, since it seemed like our family needed an excuse, though I was banking on it being common knowledge that hungry children are crazy children.

“Sorry for catching you at a bad time.  I’m a volunteer for what’s-his-face’s campaign.  Do you have a moment for a quick survey?” she asked. 

Of course I didn’t.  My wife Kara was in the kitchen slapping together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because we didn’t have the three minutes it would take to cook Kraft Mac & Cheese-like Substance.  The kids needed to be fed immediately, or civilization as we knew it would collapse.

“Sure,” I said as Memphis finally sat down and waited to see if this situation would produce anything in the way of treats.

The timing was inconvenient, but this lady was volunteering her time, so couldn’t I spare a moment of mine?  This is the basis of our democracy: people reaching out to their fellow citizens to annoy them.  We do it with our yard signs, our bumper stickers, our Facebook posts, our doorbells.  The gears of the republic are greased with irritation, and I needed to do my part to keep them lubed.

“Okay, great.  Will what’s-his-face have your vote on November something-or-other?” she asked as Zack picked up the miniature Golden Gate Bridge and tucked it into his body like a linebacker holding onto a fumble recovery. 

“NOOOOO, ZACK!” Evan yelled.

“Zack, put the bridge back.  Sure, absolutely,” I said, pretty sure that I sounded like I was lying, even though I might not have been.

“Dinner time!” Kara yelled. 

“Are you aware that what’s-his-face is on your side and cares about stuff?” the lady asked, in essence.

“DINNER!” the kids screamed, exiting stage left, followed by the dog, who could subsist entirely on what she’s able to lick off of Zack’s hands.

“Sure am!” I said.

“Great, thank you,” she said, “That’s it.”

The survey probably had more than two questions on it, but I wasn’t going to question its mercifully quick completion. 

I made a note to come back and hang some ear plugs on the doorbell button after dinner, though.  The next person to ring it would understand soon enough.

You can vote for whoever’s running against Mike Todd at

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