Last Friday, I received a frantic call from Hawaii.
“Jojo is running for third grade class president,” Josh (my brother) excitedly informed me. “He needs some enormous posters. Will you design them? Laser cats are a factor.”
I’d just finished a long season of designing local political ads, and thought I could use a change. Laser cats sounded much less boring than “fiscal responsibility” or “experience.” I accepted the gig, and even waived my fee.
“Awesome!” Josh said, “I’ll work on his speech. I want him just to walk up to the podium and say ‘Hi, my name is Jovanni. Vote for me because LASER CATS,’ and then just drop the mic. He won’t do it though. He just keeps crying and yelling, ‘DON’T EMBARRASS ME DAD!’”
“He kinda has a point,” I replied.
Whiskey -Colored Memories
One boring spring evening during my junior year of art school, my buddy Marshall and I were sitting in his dorm room searching for something to do. Cockroach Kentucky Derby had gotten old. We were out of beer and ideas.
Political fliers for the upcoming Student Government Associations (SGA) elections had appeared like black mold on the walls of our university. Some even drifted down to the Art Department, hurriedly tacked to bulletin boards nearest the exits. Normal kids never ventured into our area, largely because it was a maze of sticky, filthy, sharp, poisonous hazards which were often also on fire.
“Hey, Marsh – did you see those election thingys?” I asked.
“Yeah, what’s that about?” Marshall queried while digging, mole-like, through an endless pile of dirty socks.
“SGA election. Frat kids always win it.”
“Their posters are stupid,” Marshall opined, handing me a half full jug of Livingston Cellars Red Rose, and returning to his rooting with the intensity of an arsenal of archeologists. “We should make some good ones.”
“Yeah!” I chortled enthusiastically, taking a sip of hot, sugary wine. “What stuff do you have?”
“I’ve got a bunch of markers, some glue, all these Enquirers my Grandma sends me, and a bunch of paper and stuff…and THIS!” he finished, holding up a bottle of Evan Williams like he’d won the Stanley Cup.
We stayed up (drinking the rest of what we later would refer to as “The Sock O’Hol”) until 5 a.m. making increasingly strange posters, which we photocopied and hung all over campus with black electrical tape. Magically, we also printed out the SGA registration documents, signed them, and pushed them under the appropriate door.
The next morning, I awoke feeling like I’d tried to outdrink the Gobi Desert. I raced to class, still in my jammies, feet slammed into unlaced combat boots. This was not unusual, but it seemed like people were staring at me more. “Are you REALLY running for SGA?” whispered a Phi Delt in my speech class.
“Oh crap,” I replied, remembering.
I found a bedraggled Marshall in the printmaking studio at around 3 that afternoon.
“Dude,” he said morosely. “Some of the posters say that if we win, I have to wear a dress for a year.”
“We CAN’T win.” I replied. “People are pissed. It’s hilarious. Let’s just ride this sucker out.”
We weren’t exactly committed to the political process, but the frat kids didn’t get the joke. They tore down our posters, forcing us to make even stranger ones. We had no platform other than that Marshall would wear a dress for an entire year if we won. We wrote a magnificent concession speech and planned a gigantic “HOORAY! WE LOST!” party.
The night of the election, I got a call from my friend Eric.
“Hey Ab, guess what?!? YOU GUYS WON!” he yelled into the phone.
“WHAT THE [redacted],” I yelled back, “How in the [redacted] did that happen?”
Eric started laughing. “The results aren’t in yet, dork. They’re on their third recount, though. You might want to write another speech.”
I started to think seriously about how a pair of weird looking, punk rock kids might have won. Marshall was a bass player in the only local band that would play any keg party for free. He was legendary for his pioneering advances in keg-er-ator construction. My escape artist dog and I made the front page of the university’s newspaper every other week due to her penchant for sneaking on to campus and swimming in the decorative fountains in front of the art building. She timed her exercise with my class schedule so that I would chase her. She was a very popular dog.
I began steeling myself for a year of Marshall (who was built like a linebacker with nerdy glasses and a green Mohawk) in a muumuu. I left work early, and headed to what was supposed to be our triumphal loss party. The trashcan was full of ‘punch’. One corner of the living room boasted the band’s enormous speaker system. “Bring Back Joel” epitomized the ‘college band.’ They were as loud as they were awful. The house was festooned with our posters and homemade “LOSERS” banners. Marshall sat on the front steps, disconsolate. I handed him solo cup full of cheap beer. We sighed as we took our inaugural sips. Doom was palpable.
Eric’s car sped into the driveway, scattering rocks as he slammed on the brakes. He burst out the door and yelled while running toward us: “YOU GUYS LOST! BY TWO VOTES, BUT YOU LOST.” We jumped up, whooping, hollering and dancing around the front yard. Marshall hoisted me on his shoulders. “WAIT,” I said, rapping Marshall’s skull to get his attention, “MARSHALL! Did you vote, dude?”
“No way!” he replied.
“ME NEITHER!” I crowed.
It was the closest election in university history. I’m still thrilled to have lost it.