Love and peace,
Love and peace,
Latoya Unger called former mayor Marvin Haye at 5:45 am, because the kitchen faucet wouldn’t turn off, the drain was clogged, and she was afraid of flooding the house.
Marvin sighed. She hadn’t disturbed his sleep; he’d been restless and was standing at the door to his bedroom closet, separating his shirts into two piles.
“When can you come over?” Latoya asked.
“Even if it were a civic issue,” Marvin said, “I’m no longer mayor.”
“And if I was calling as a friend?”
“Who did you vote for, Miss Unger?”
There was pause enough for Marvin to realize Latoya Unger was probably blushing in some small demonstration of shame. “I’ll call Bill,” he told her, and quietly hung up the phone.
He checked his Rolodex for Bill’s Plumbing, Heating, Jams and Jellies. William Blatt, besides being a town counsellor and plumber, had a small orchard on his property and liked to make preserves.
“Pipes or jelly!” Bill answered cheerfully. “Sweet or savoury!”
“Latoya Unger’s pipes again, Bill, could you go over as soon as you can?”
“Oh damn, can’t you go?”
“I’m not mayor,” said Marvin.
“Of course you are,” said Bill. “It’s just a joke.”
“It’s not funny,” said Marvin. “It wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of my combover, either.”
“But you stopped doing it!”
Marvin ran his palm over his neatly trimmed pate. “And it wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of me for wearing a belt and suspenders,” he said.
“Well you don’t need both,” said Bill.
“It wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of my Rolodex.”
“Where did you even find that?”
“And it wasn’t funny when everyone made fun of me for wearing a Hawaiian shirt on a Tuesday.”
“It wasn’t the Tuesday,” said Bill. “It was the shirt.”
Marvin was staring at the shirt now, wondering which pile to put it in. It was turquoise with a pattern of streaming green seaweed. On the pockets were female figures presumably dancing the hula, and there was actual fabric fringe from their grass skirts. He’d paid over forty dollars for it, second hand.
Its original owner had been reluctant to part with it, and Marvin suspected a wife had laid down the law. Marvin’s wife was gone, and the shirt had spoken to him just as it had with its doe-eyed owner. But now the magic was gone. He cradled the telephone receiver between his neck and shoulder, took the shirt off its hanger, folded it carefully, and placed it in the Goodwill pile.
“I’m leaving,” said Marvin. “Packing up and going to Richmond to stay with my daughter.”
“You have work to do as mayor!” said Bill.
“I’m not mayor,” said Marvin again. “I did not get the majority of votes. I was there for the final tally last night. Congratulations on your reelection to council, by the way. I guess the people have spoken. They chose a mixed breed dog to be mayor of Bartlett instead of the incumbent. Hope you enjoy it.”
“For heaven’s sake, Marvin, where’s your sense of humour?”
Marvin was looking at a raspberry red golf shirt emblazoned with the crest of Foothill Golf Center Mayors’ Tournament. Sacramento, California had hosted a conference for mayors which Marvin had attended at town expense, and where he’d played in a foursome with the mayors of Billings, Montana, Hanover, Michigan, and Red Deer, Alberta. He also learned quite a bit about private police forces, universal wi-fi pros and cons, and how to tax environment-negative businesses. He still called and chatted with the mayor of Red Deer, who’d been so sympathetic when Helen died.
He folded the shirt carefully and put it in the “keep” pile.
“Can you drop off some of your sweet pepper-plum jelly? My daughter loves it,” said Marvin. “Because I’m going to Richmond, Latoya Unger has a clogged pipe, I’m not mayor, Gloria is your mayor, I hope everyone had a good laugh, and I’m wearing a belt and suspenders at the same time, right now.”
He hung up the phone ever so quietly, and finished sorting and packing. He was not wearing both a belt and suspenders. That was a joke.
—>Gloria, a story by Fluffy Pool.
Marvin Haye felt unappreciated. People didn’t realize just how much he was committed to his job, how time-consuming it was, how difficult it was for him to navigate. It’s true he inherited it in a way, when his wife died, but he expected some recognition and respect, not a sour blend of hard work and ridicule.
It was 4:45 am last Tuesday when Latoya Unger called him because her toilet backed up. She said she called the water department but no one answered. Well hell, of course no one answered. They were home in bed. Why didn’t she call a plumber? She thought it was a town issue, she said. Well hell, he was awake anyway, so, armed with his sturdiest plunger, he made his way through the sleety streets to the Unger home, where, as it happened, Geoffrey Unger was sleeping soundly in his own bed.
It’s true Geoffrey liked to linger at the Pumphouse Pub and drink a few too many pints of ale and stout, but you would think the smell alone would have awakened him. But no, Marvin could hear him snoring all the way down the hall in the bathroom.
It was a mess, and then a bigger mess, and then Marvin helped clean up some of the worst mess, before he got into his Dodge pickup and went home. He showered and had just enough time to drive Patricia to school before his breakfast meeting with a development group, who wanted to establish a relationship with the Mayor of Bartlett, since they had great vision for the town, they said.
His wife had been much better at the social side of politics than Marvin would ever be. She was naturally somewhat quiet, and her reticence was often mistaken for poise and confidence. He tended to feel awkward and inexplicably at a disadvantage, no matter what the situation. The mechanics of town politics were less of a problem; in fact he was secretly proud of how much assistance he was able to render Helen with regard to the nuts and bolts of council meetings, grants, budgets, infrastructure, and planning.
When she died, a quickly-called election installed Marvin in her place. He knew it was temporary, but he wanted to run again and win properly, despite constituents like Latoya Unger. But the respect, where was the respect?
After the breakfast meeting he met with his election committee, a small group of semi-dedicated volunteers, who looked that morning both amused and despondent. Why? Because Gloria was officially on the ballot too.
“How?” said Marvin.
Calvin giggled. Marvin hated when Calvin giggled. If he wasn’t his brother-in-law and if being on the committee didn’t help keep him out of trouble, he’d be out in a heartbeat.
“Some loophole or other,” said Susan Banes. “The thing is, we can’t really react too strongly, or people will think we have no sense of humour.”
“One of their slogans is ‘The Bitch is Back’,” said Calvin. He caught Marvin’s eye and suppressed a chuckle.
“It’ll be good for tourism,” said Randy Ptarmigan. “She’s a bonnie dog, Marvin.”
Marvin sighed. Well hell, it would be good for tourism, and in all the papers and on TV, and Marvin would look like a fool, and it just wasn’t right that he wasn’t appreciated. Not right at all.
Today, as I was taking a break from NaNoWriMo, I asked my dog, “Is what happened in the US election a disaster, or a catastrophe?”
He looked back at me with his puddly brown eyes. They said, “What election? I feel fine. Why do you look unhappy? Can I have a treat, or a scratch behind the ears? I love you. When’s dinner?”
Why doesn’t everyone have a dog?
It is Day 9 of National Novel Writing Month, and the Daily Post prompt for this day is the word primp. Primp is not the word of the day, or the thought of the day, however. There simply are no words or adequate thoughts. Instead, may I present a few of my favourite cartoons:
When small men begin to cast big shadows, it is a sure sign that the sun is setting.
― Lin Yutang
What does this have to do with the daily prompt, ‘flattery’?
I interpret ‘smallness’ in this quotation as a small-minded man, not a man short in stature, and the sun setting implies a coming darkness. So it made me think of the American presidential election.
Flattery is defined as “excessive and insincere praise, especially that given to further one’s own interests.” One of the candidates, He Who Shall Not Be Named, is given to excessive praise, for himself. He encourages the basest of instincts in his followers for his own gain. But HWSNBN, as a narcissist, is devoted to himself. This alone is not the worst quality ever seen in a presidential candidate, but combined with other characteristics, makes HWSNBN utterly unfit to lead a country. I see darkness ahead if this small man is permitted to cast a long shadow.
I have added a tiny little prompt to this site, urging Americans to register to vote. It appears at the bottom of the window. Please do register, and get out and vote.
Good afternoon, Tuesday.
I don’t really consider the current U.S. election campaign to be political, or about policies, truth, accuracy, presidents, reality, or facts. It is about fantasy, horse racing, sound bytes, lies, laziness, racism, and sexism.
All because a person named Donald Trump is an actual candidate who may be elected to the presidency. Only because he is in the running. No candidate is perfect, but as I said, I do not consider him to be a political candidate. He is a joke. He redefines the word. There is no one word specific enough to describe this situation. (Jokemare? Crylaugh? Impossibull?)
You know how it is “too soon” to joke about some events, usually tragedies? This is like a “too soon” joke turned inside out. This kind of joke is always too soon and too late, simultaneously.
I don’t consider this post to be political, so I don’t think I need to explain or apologize.
With a tenuous relationship to today’s word prompt, “unfinished”, here is the first of several of my favourite cartoons:
Peace and serenity,