Shouts & Murmurs
by Paul Simms July 28, 2008
Ladies and gentlemen, as I’ve campaigned across this great country of ours, one of my greatest pleasures has been meeting all the wonderful Americans whose voices are so rarely heard—and whose stories are so rarely told.
I’m thinking of the young woman I met in Texahoma, Texas: a single mother who has three full-time jobs—but no health insurance. Or the young man I met in Oklatexa, Oklahoma, who has tons and tons of health insurance—but no job. I’ll never forget the look in that young man’s eye when he said to me, “Also, I’m single, and I’d like to meet a woman who already has children and who preferably lives in an adjoining state.”
These are the moments when you realize that the current system has failed us, and that there’s absolutely nothing you can do to help.
I’m thinking of married couples like Jim and Sheila R., of Fort Injun, Wyoming. Jim has spent most of his fifty years laboring manually in a pebble mine. And Sheila—without any government aid—has started a foundation to enlighten Americans about the putative value of hand-mined pebbles. But despite a banner sales year, during which they sold almost six sacks of their artisanal-quality hand-mined pebbles, they still haven’t been able to scrape together enough money to buy a last name.
I’m talking about people like the wonderful Mexican gentleman I met in Hilltop Hollow, Arizona, who, when I told him of my great affection for the country of Mexico, looked me in the eye and said, “Yo soy de Nicaragua.” Which reminded me how I’ve always thought that one of the most beautiful languages in the whole world is Mexican.
Or the young man who walked up to me after a speech in Townville, South Dakota. He handed me a 1923 silver dollar and said, “This coin used to belong to my father. It was his prize possession. But I want you to have it now. And I want you to carry it with you on your travels from state to state.” And, as I was thanking him, this young man looked me right in the eye and said, “Actually, I stole it from my father five minutes ago. He’s standing right over there. No—don’t look, don’t look. Be cool. Maintain. Just put it in your pocket. I’ll be in touch.” And with that he walked away.
I’m talking about the young man—a boy, really; he couldn’t have been more than eleven or twelve years old—whom I met in an online game of Halo, who said to me, “Headshot! Suck it! Pwned! Be less gay!,” after he had killed me by camping a respawn point, which really should be illegal.
I’m talking about the mother of five in Badhampton, New York, who told me, “Between getting the kids up at 5 A.M. for gymnastics practice, then driving them to school, then taking the dogs to the vet, then picking up the kids after school and taking them to gymnastics meets, then feeding the dogs, then putting the kids to bed, then walking the dogs, then waking the kids and the dogs up for midnight gymnastics practice, I still worry that I’ll never realize my dream of assembling the world’s most awesome dogs-plus-humans gymnastics troupe.”
I’m talking about the middle-aged man from Monterey, California—a Mr. Sammy Hagar—who told me, “I can’t drive fifty-five.” To tell the truth, I never had the good fortune to meet Sammy face to face, but we did have a long and fruitful one-way conversation through my car stereo one night during a Classic Rock Block.
I’m thinking and talking about a man I met in New Carsmell, Vermont, before my campaign even began. He had inherited from his step-uncle, after much legal wrangling, the family diner. I remember as if it were yesterday asking this man for a ham-and-cheese sandwich. And he made me one. But, before he served it to me, he smooshed it down in this hot-presser thing that sort of looked like a copy machine. So, when it was done, the sandwich was like a flattened-out grilled cheese with ham, which the man claimed was an Italian delicacy. That thing was delicious. I can’t remember right now what it’s called, but more and more places are starting to serve them, so, if you ever get the chance to have one, definitely try it. I think it might have been called a “pannioli” or something. Something Italian-sounding.
But I digress.
What I’m really trying to talk about on this great occasion is women like your mother, whose decades-long struggle with morbid obesity has earned her much renown in the urban folklore of our great land. That’s right—your mother: a woman who is said to be so fat that, when she sat down on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday got bounced into the middle of next week. If I could, I would give her a medal, even though she would probably eat it, thinking there’s chocolate inside.
As I conclude my remarks here tonight, I can’t help but think of whichever one of you it was in the audience who sarcastically applauded when I said “As I conclude my remarks” a few seconds ago. It’s easier to tear down than to build up, Ma’am. And I call you “Ma’am” with the full knowledge that you’re probably actually a guy, because I just got you back.
You know, when I began this campaign, people said I was crazy. They said it couldn’t be done. They said that no one, in the entire history of American politics, had ever mounted and run and, God willing, won a national campaign to be elected King of Prussia. They said that King of Prussia is not really an elected office. They said that King of Prussia is just the funny name of a town in Pennsylvania. They said that when most people hear the phrase “King of Prussia” they think of the famous mall there, and not of the governmental position that apparently does not exist.
Well, maybe they’re right.
O.K., that’s the part where you’re all supposed to yell, “No!”
Nothing? No one?
Whatever. Fine. I’ll be in the food court if anyone wants to sign my petition or have a photo op or buy me a Burrito Supreme. ♦