Wednesday, November 12, 2008


...It was in Scranton, PA. Actually outside of Scranton. In a little suburb called Olyphant. Who knew Scranton had suburbs? (If I sound citified, it's because I am. Picture me and my friend, a beloved homosexual, ambling cheerfully down the pedestrian-free sidewalks of Scranton to the charming coffee shop and roaster [With wifi! And soy milk!], while we waited to be assigned turf. Picture how impressed we are with the selection of goodies and sandwiches and specialty espresso drinks. Be embarrassed on our behalf.)

I dressed badly for the trip, which is disheartening, since I pride myself on putting together outfits appropriate for any given occasion. When we went to the Atlantic Antic, a famous street festival that stretches for miles through downtown Brooklyn, I wore a hooded sweatshirt and my brown trucker hat that has "Dope" spray painted in Wild Style on its face. I wanted to keep it real, you know? But to Lackawanna County (Was I hung over when I dressed? Or still drunk?) I wore a short brown suede skirt with striped knee socks and oversized fake Uggs, a long sleeved shirt, and a brown, down, Elie Tahari vest with a huge dramatic hood. When I got out of the car to ask for directions, my friend who had been driving shook his head at me.

Out on the streets of Olyphant, the mood among we three Brooklynites who had made the trek could not have been more ebullient. The sun was out, the trees boasted their Autumn glory from the peaks of the Poconos that surrounded us, and Obama was kicking major ass in the polls. Most of the people we spoke to were already on our side, we were just reminding them to get out and vote on Tuesday. It was a good day. Then someone waved us down from a once-blue American car. It was a real beater, probably from the 70's when cars came in two sizes: hearse and boat.

She was a big lady, she possessed the kind of pillowy largesse that happens when a person never ever ever moves. She had the chin hair of a young Hasid, and the voice of a shy schoolgirl. But she was unwell. You could see that right away. I thought she was an alcoholic. My friend said schizophrenic.

"Are you with the Republicans or the Democrats?" she asked me. I had an Obama sticker right on my crazy vest which was maybe six inches from her nose, but I answered her anyway.

"Democrats," I said. I suddenly realized that the two boys were no longer beside me. They were across the street. And down the block.

"Oh, yeah? I like that one...oh, what is his name...Obamy?" It wasn't good. Curse those boys for ditching me! "Are you, uh, yous are workin' for that Obamy?" I explained that we were volunteers. She said she wanted to volunteer as well. She asked me where the office was located and I told her. "Oh yeah," she said. "Right by the Medical Center right? You turn right, that Medical Center is just down the road there."

The only thing I had done in Scranton was arrive and buy lunch.

"I'm not sure..." I managed.

"Oh, gosh, it's right there, isn't it? You from here?"


"It's right there next to the Medical Center!" I remembered that it was near the Curry Donuts. I told her as much.

"I spent all day cleaning out my attic," she moaned. "I don't know what I'm gonna do about the basement." I nodded with understanding. "What's your name?" she asked me. "Maria? Or Debra?"

"Sure," I said. "Debra. Why not?"

"I want to call you Debra," she said.

"Okay, yeah," I said. "You can call me Debra."

She looked at me for a second.

"What's with those crazy boots, Debra?" she asked me.

She drove away pretty soon after that.

Obama won Lackawanna County. FYI.

1 comment:

Adam Berkowitz said...

And that woman? Turned out to be Cindy McCain. True story.