Curb Your Cynicism

Curb Your Cynicism
My partner and I of twenty years – we can’t get married in New York State, even though a New York State appeals court just ruled our state must recognize out-of-state marriages – go to our local elementary school to vote in the primary.
The school is justly beloved for its dynamic principal, innovative curriculum, parental involvement and special needs program. With all manner of wheelchairs and walking devices, the first floor looks like Lourdes. It is a victim of its success, and so overcrowded, it has had to move many special programs out of the school.
We walk past the PTA Moms hawking baked goods for the school. “The croissants are low-fat.” We give them a ten, but don’t take anything. They are chirpingly grateful.
We walk into a steamy, Dianne Arbus low-ceilinged inner room, smelling faintly of green sawdust and cooked cabbage. I’m hoping that since it is early, the election officials are still just getting their system down. We are the fourth and fifth voters from our district.
The older woman I am directed to doesn’t hear or see that well and seems flummoxed with the multi-tasking of finding “Clinton” on her list – “Can you spell it?” – and assigning me a number. Five. The big lever to open the voting booth curtain is jammed. I cast my vote for someone who will have to deal with global warming, gay issues, education, aging issues, the economy, voting reform. And that war.
We vote, walk out and breathe deeply. We walk by a young woman by the playground fence, at the mandatory distance from the polling place, surreptitiously murmuring “Hillary” and passing out home made fliers like they were nickel bags. A woman with a regulation Obama placard stands in silent vigil across the street.
This Super Tuesday, it’s Carnival in other parts of the world. In the US, it’s the national semi-finals of American Idol and there is a late surge by a talented young man who can kick out a speech like nobody’s business. The handsome business cardboard cutout of a guy is lip-syncing Ronald Reagan. The white haired vet is cracking straight jokes. No matter the talents of the woman contestant, she is to be judged by Survivor rules.
Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. I am going to daub a big bindi of ash on my furrowed brow and try to give up cynicism for Lent.