Last night I tagged along with my wife to a candidates’ forum sponsored by our local Obama cell. They can always use an extra body to put up the giant floodlights and posters, and if the need arises, paint a heroic mural or rough up someone spreading the corn-smut of counterrevolutionary dogma.  Republican candidates were invited, too, and a few of them actually showed up only to be hastily manacled to our portable pig-iron blast furnace . They’d get a chance to espouse their campaign platforms, but only in exchange for a few minutes’ honest labor.

My wife suggested I take some notes, the way you might offer a child a tin of crayons and some chewable toys and tell it to go be quiet somewhere. I thought this was a good idea, because it kept me from having to make eye contact with people. While we were setting up I had a few brief conversations with folks and was reminded why I chose to live far away and well off the road. You folks who do this every day are goddamn heroes. I was also reminded that I am old, old. There was a young woman in attendance wearing a titty thong, and wherever I looked, there were her titties. One quickly realizes that the titties aren’t bouncing around the room in an effort to get in your field of vision, but that you, instead, can’t be taken anywhere anymore.

I used to be famously a non-starer at boobs. One of my  co-workers even told me, back in the day “You are the only man who looks at my face when he ‘s talking to me.” I didn’t know what to say. I know what I thought, which was “I’m truly flattered, but it’s probably more that I’ve never really been interested in cartography. Boobs, on the other hand, yes.”

DISCLAIMER: These are the notes I took during the candidates’ forum, and if any people who are likely to vote in the May 4th primary are visiting here I will take this opportunity to inform them my note taking is one of the reasons it took me the better part of a decade to to get a pity degree from a “college” whose most notable alumni are likely walking up a secondary road near you, searching for aluminum cans.

Opening statements and introductions, candidates for County Commissioner.

MRS. BLALOCK:  Taught in public schools , has developed recycling programs which have led to location of light industries in the county, opposed landfill expansion.

MR. DIBONA: I have a four point plan to make the county better. Reduce taxes reduce taxes reduce taxes reduce taxes. In case you hadn’t noticed, I am old as dirt and I’m here tonight to bring the crazy. I will not shut up. Each one of these spots on my face represents the acquisition of a piece of painful knowledge beyond mortal comprehension. We must take care of the citizens. I am old!

MR. LUNSFORD: You all know me, even if you never met me. I have made bucketfuls of floury, tasteless gravy by drifting into this job and moving my mouth to make bland, inoffensive noises. When I do this at home, my wife tearfully begs me to shut up for awhile, then slams the door leaving me to talk to the TV set.

QUESTION  ONE: What will you do to manage growth in the county?

MRS. BLALOCK: Tie tax incentives to local employment and the implementation of on the job training programs.

MR. DIBONA: I will cut my own salary. I will stand at the county line and howl at the moon until she gives me her secrets. Together, we will break the back of teen alcohol and tobacco use. I will donate one of my liver spots for an airfield.

MR. LUNSFORD: I wish I could stand here and tell you there’s a surefire way to attract investment and jobs to this county. The economy is terrible, and the few remaining virgins have lost their teeth. Perhaps it would be best if we could resume the seismic and volcanic activity that characterized the county some 20,000,000 years ago. Barring that, we’ve got Native Americans. Casinos!

QUESTION TWO: In the current recession, how will we find the money to fund social programs?

MR. DIBONA: I was in WWII and I never saw any good come of social programs.  We went through the divisions of welfare queens the Nazis sent out to meet us like shit through a goose. I used to be a professor. Do you need another reason to think you wasted your money going to college? I can give you another one (Lifts leg, farts). I will not shut up until the timekeeper throws a sack of fruit at my head.

MRS. BLALOCK: We need to focus our efforts on the type of education that encourages autonomy and independent effort in children, so they can get out of this place and aspire to live the dolce vita in one of the coastal cultural meccas.  It’s an awful lot to ask a young person to commit to a short life of fat, sun-baked indolence watching satellite TV in a rusty trailer.You farmboys really ought to wear a hoodie. There’s too many monkeys on this mudball as it is.

MR.  LUNSFORD: Me and the other commissioners were just talking about this over a round of drinks up at the courthouse. The federal government told us we’re not in a position to spend shit. The days of erecting those big billboards up on the highway saying “Please spend your Yankee dollars here if you can find something that ain’t beat all to hell and chewed over for the fourth or fifth time.” is over. They suggested getting one of the local freaks to dress up in a Statue of Liberty outfit and yell at passing automobiles, but someone stole the costume. Crime will always be with us.

QUESTION THREE: What must be preserved in this county at all costs?

MR. LUNSFORD: Lifelong learning is the key to life. It’s the key to a good job. A good job is the key to better health. If you are healthy, you have an opportunity to live longer and learn more, and improve your employment opportunities. It’s a vicious circle. I am just about slap out of platitudes: Isn’t my time up yet?

MRS. BLALOCK: I don’t know who’s got the courage to go into a room with some of them, but we have to make a good faith effort to try and appear to be giving these young troglodytes the semblance of an education. We need infrastructure, classroom materials, and nutrition programs because if the feds come down here and see what we’ve actually got, we’re looking at the top slot on 60 Minutes, and they’re going to break network precedent by calling the segment “What.The.Fuck?” And the Board of Education is going to face extraordinary rendition to spray paint garden furniture in Guangdong for Wal-Mart for the rest of their natural lives.

MR. DIBONA: I know people who live near the landfill who wanted to leave their property to their sons and daughters . They’ve found out that the property is worthless. Land is our gift to future generations. We need to erect a visual barrier that will prevent people from knowing about the landfill.


MR. LUNSFORD: Me again already?

MR.BROOKS:  Sorry I’m late, but my wife got distracted, and the  bitch forgot to file my paperwork. All I got to say is, we ain’t going nowhere in this county if we only vote for our friends. I am not your friend. Fact is, I’m liable to rip someone’s head off right here and drink the blood out their neck because I am stone fucking crazy. I’m crazier than this old dude up here with the map of the Florida Keys printed on his face with a” mahogany” El Marko. Here. I’ll prove it: Arrrghaaaaaspppppplbbbbbttt!  Geg Gee Gee awww fuck!!”


MRS. BLALOCK: We must strive to keep the human waste from Duke University from clogging up any future candidates’ forum. It’s far too late to recycle some of the retirees who’ve washed up on the shores of Hyco Lake, but I’ve seen composting efforts yield surprising results.

MR. DI BONA: Sure I’m old, but I’m sexually vigorous. I’ve left some cards at the back of the auditorium with my  phone number, and if you scratch the back off with a coin you can see my manly attribute. Please take one. They cost a fortune to print.

MR. LUNSFORD: Mrs. Blalock has initiated a recycling program that is the envy of, and a model for, surrounding communities. What was the question?

There was more. Much much more. About this time I wandered outdoors to get some air. I should have learned shorthand, I now realize.