I Could Have Danced All Night

5 years ago

Sets. Staging. Window dressing.

The Great Oz was able to keep the population contained and controlled because the man behind the curtain could only be seen as a larger-than-life image on a massive screen. 

I went to the VP debate last night. I wore my blue jeans and cowboy boots and whitest dress shirt with my red, white & blue tie and a black suit jacket. I walked into the venue in the company of a reporter fromLondonwho had fallen in step with me. We agreed the day could not be more beautiful or the setting more perfect than idyllic Centre College in idyllic Danville, Ky. I live here with my three teens in a wee house within walking distance of the college so I was proud that the town was doing me proud. 

The London reporter said, “Oh! That’s where I’m going!” as we walked up to the media center where we could see a buffet spread out in a crowded room of other media participants. “Hell yeah I’ll have a beer,” someone could be heard saying said as we walked through the door. 

The media center was in the gymnasium building separate from theNortonCenterfor the Arts where the actual debate would take place. The halls and various rooms for the media were buzzing with activity. 

Outside and separated by a high fence and deep security was the “festival” area. A large screen was set in place to stream the debate when the time came next to a stage where local and regional musicians took turns on stage. The Marshall Tucker Band was scheduled to perform, after. I don’t know if they took the stage or not. I could not see the festival from where I was and those folks were certainly not invited to the buffet. 

I had been to the festival area earlier. I parked my 20 year-old mom van down the block and walked in with two out of three of my teenagers. They had been cautioned earlier in the week to hang on to the allowance their dad had sent them in case there was food for sale there. I ended up spending $12 of the $14 cash I had to my name on a stale pizza and was glad I could do so. The sodas were free so that was a bonus. We sat in the sun together until I had to pop back home to let the dog out to pee and get dressed for the debate. 

I felt like Cinderella at the ball. I had a legitimate right, a claim in fact, on my space at the event but I could not help but look around and laugh to myself. I was the rank outsider there. I have just under $80 in the bank and no reasonable expectation that this fact of my station will change anytime soon. Reporters scurried around but I knew full well not one would see or hear or experience anything other that what would be pasteurized, homogenized and spoon-fed to them as a managed group. 

There were only two candidates there to debate. No third party was allowed. There was no dissention. No protestors. No outrage or passion. Just another day in OZ. 

I had a blast. I walked around in my cowboy boots and hugged necks of some of the locals I knew there and generally enjoyed the silly energy. We were playing just as sure as any group of kids on a elementary school playground. We pretended it mattered. We pretended the real people on the other side of the fence drinking free pop had really nothing to do with any of this. There was no chance in hell I would get to meet Biden or Ryan and ask them an honest question. Mitch McConnell and his entourage very nearly knocked me down and ran me over on their way past me as I was stupidly enjoying a stroll along the brick road between where they were and where they wanted to be. 

The candidates were practiced and polished for their pantomime of the democratic process. There was much roaring and smoke and dire predictions of the future unless specific yet very diverse strategies were embraced and employed. 

I tried to sneak in at one point, as is my way. I poked my little nose in for just a second—wagging my tail like crazy—but was quickly shooed away. Nothing to see behind the curtain! Not to worry. All I can do is harmless yapping. 

Men—not a vagina between them—talked abortion as  policy on the giant screen. They talked about job creation to each other while the callused hands of the real workers held free pop in the dark outside of their view. They talked about the potential of dropping actual bombs and actual humans in another part of the world as if this was a policy decision and not about pain and fear. They talked and talked. 

There were no challengers to the rhetoric. There is no real access inside the great hall to any but those already there. Those who came with the assignment to witness and inform could only get past the gatekeeper if they know the secret knock. Once on the inside, they by necessity become separate from the folks sitting on the lawn. 

Doesn’t matter. It’s just a show now. It was fun, too. I had a pecan tart. 

Then, like Cinderella dashing off as the clock sounded the wasting of time, I had to leave. My 13-year-old daughter had been ditched in the dark and cold festival park by her older brother. Even inDanville, it is unsafe for her to walk home alone in the dark. A woman got her head blown off in broad daylight just the day before, likely as a result of a dispute over drug territory. It is cold out at night now and scary too. 

I snatched up my gal and we found my humble car in the media parking lot among the BMW and Lexus and rental cars. I drove the short miles to home. The dog had to pee. 

Carriage to pumpkin, ball gown to rags. Last night I danced at the ball and looked for Dorothy. Today I am back to sweeping the ashes, grateful for a broom, and wondering if anyone leaving last night happened upon a glass slipper.

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