Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Of voting attempts and church ladies

This morning I voted.

My local polling place is the meeting room of a church, and as such the polls tend to be manned by elderly church goers.

There was one other voter present, just ahead of me with his young son in what technically counted as a line.  He was identified and handed a ballot, the voting-specific transaction thus completed.

One of the eldery pollworkers--a woman--turned to the little kid as I waited in line (technically).  She put on her beaming "talking to children" face and asked, "How old are you?"

"Five," he said.

"Wow!  That's the same age as my grand-nephew!  What's your name?"


"Max?" she said, her voice rising in delighted pitch.  "What a great name, Max!"

I didn't want to be rude, but I moved to draw attention to the fact that I was waiting.  Her eyes connected with mine and then turned back to Max.

"Do you know the book Where the Wild Things Are, Max?"

"Yes," Max replied.

"I hear they're turning it into a movie," the father said, his empty ballot tucked under his arm.

"Oh really?" she asked.

I was already late for work.

"I'd like to vote," I said.

Max and his voting dad took the cue and walked away.

The woman held onto her "talking to children face" and addressed me.  "And what is your last name?"


She began flipping through her registered voter list while continuing to address children.  "S...E...L..."

"No," I said.  "S..A..L..I..S..B..U..R..Y."


"S..A..L..I," I corrected.

"S...A...I..."  she turned from one page to another, having trouble finding the name that is not mine.

"No, S.A.L.I"

She looked up at me, said, "oh," and then turned back to the registered voter list.  "S...A...I..."

The elderly church man sitting next to her interrupted her.  "No, S.A.L.I."

"S...A..." she trailed off.

The man leaned over.  "Top of page two."

She flipped one page, then another.  "Uh..."

"Never mind, I'll do it, " the man said, crossing out my name.

I took the offered ballot and walked to a booth.

Go vote!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Spiders and the Legend of the Beast

The spiders that live in my basement have a tale that is passed down from generation to generation, a story presented as fact but only in the fashion that all children's stories are.

It is the telling of a massive roaring monster that appears but once every spider eon, a screaming, sucking beast that arrives without warning and massacres everything in its path.  It's long tube-like mouth is unforgiving in its ability to reach even the deepest of spider hiding places, and even the biggest, strongest spider is sucked up with frightening ease.  The beast destroys homes, slaughters families, and gobbles up even children with its bottomless hunger, and it isn't until the previously thriving spider population has been completely decimated that the sated beast finally retreats, lumbering off to god-knows-where to hibernate.  The few survivors who managed to escape the beast's wrath have no choice but to pick up the pieces of their shattered civilization and attempt to rebuild.

Fear can't last forever, of course, and as the spider population begins to recover and generation after generation passes without a return from the beast, the story retreats into legend and transforms from frightening to sexy, something young spiderlings whisper about at slumber parties while shivering under their sleeping bags.

The spiders are mistaken, however, as the beast is real and the passing of time has only strengthened its hunger.

Today is the day the spiders once again learn.