Sunday, October 26

YA the Vote: An Unglamorous Post

In summer of 1970, at the age of eight, I committed my first act as a political animal: I conducted a poll. Taking a piece of cardboard from one of my dad's dry-cleaned shirts, I magic-markered on the white side: WOMEN'S LIB. I underscored those radical words and underneath wrote two other lines:



That's all I wanted. I wasn't selling my neighbors usuriously high-priced gift wrap or other things they didn't need. I just wanted to know which women in my neighborhood were for and which against this crucial issue. Somehow in my mind, I had decided that the women's liberation movement could not possibly stride forward unless I was able to provide statistics from my own minuscule neighborhood in suburban CT. So I trudged from one-acre lot to one-acre lot, doggedly seeking my data. This did not take long since I was only allowed to go to three streets. Nor was it a very successful day for the movement. What few women did answer their doors - I remember all of them wearing hair curlers - did not answer as I'd dreamed they would, mostly just shooing me away. I remember one woman who wouldn't even answer her door, opening a second-story window just long enough to fearfully implore me, "Please. Just go." Who did she think I was, the Ghost of Women Future? It was tough not to picture a chain reaction of hair-curlered women, each one calling her neighbor to warn about the kid with the dry-cleaner cardboard survey who was threatening to come their way.

It's odd to me now to think of that little girl: how earnest, how certain she was that what she did mattered!

Funny, I still think that certain things matter. It matters to have opinions on the significant issues challenging our times. It matters, whether we do it literally or figuratively, to register "for" or "against." And it really matters, even if we live in states so far red or blue that it doesn't seem like it matters, to exercise our privilege by getting out there and voting.

I started out by thinking this an unglamorous post. I mean, it's not exactly Gossip Girls, is it? But now I'm thinking it's very glamorous. Standing up and being counted: that's sexy. And there'll be nothing sexier come November 4 than walking out of a polling station with one of those happy little "I voted today!" stickers plastered to your chest. So get out there this year and vote. And if you're not eligible yet? Then imagine your parents are Kevin Costner and make like "Swing Vote" - make sure they vote. Seriously, if you don't, I may have to come knocking at your door with one of my dry-cleaner cardboard surveys.


Be well. Don't forget to write.


Alyson Noel said...

I LOVE that story Lauren- wish I had known you back then!

I love voting- I love feeling like I did my part to push the change that I want. I voted last week absentee, and despite missing the I VOTED sticker- it felt awesome!

And, since you asked, I've got TONS of political anecdotes. Back when I was a flight attendant, I flew the NYC - DC route all the time, and I've seen and served them all--and though I won't commit to anything in writing, I could be coaxed to tell all over a drink . . .


Awesome post!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Great, Alyson - let's go drinking!

Sara Hantz said...

Ooohhhh I'll come too...... I LOVE stories!!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Sara, now if only we all lived closer together!

Little Willow said...

Are you ladies participating in Why Voting Matters/Blog the Vote event that Lee Wind and Colleen (Chasing Ray) are holding next week? You should!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

First I heard about it, LW, but I'll check it out - I love Chasing Ray!

TJ Brown said...

Once during a govern's primary, I couldn't figure out who to vote for, my then twelve year old son, (a total political animaL) told us who he would vote for, so I called the candidates offices and asked them a few questions. Turns out he was right. The kids and I were also invited to the primary party to watch the results. Off we went to the party. our guy WON the primary! It was a blast and my kids were on TV shouting and laughing. Turns out my MIL (another political animal) saw them on TV. Wow, did I ever gain brownie points with that one!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Teri, that is *such* a great story!

Melissa Walker said...

My dad used to take me in the booth with him and let me choose who to vote for (this, of course, after weeks of dinners where he told me who was on the good side...). I felt SO important!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Melissa, I take my daughter with me whenever I can! Of course the last time I took her, she screamed loud enough for everyone at the polling place to hear, "Ma, why didn't you vote for ___???" about the incumbent candidate whose name was plastered all over the city.