Letters from the Trail

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letters_leadAn idea inspired by my erstwhile friends at Steve’s Word has prompted me to inform readers of this esteemed publication about my activities on the campaign trail here in rural South Carolina. Before I begin spinning the yarn that will undoubtedly entertain and captivate my readers, I would like to assure all of you out there that I know what you’re thinking. I have spent large amounts of time with the freaks who run this website and have therefore been exposed to their natural Northern biases. I’m very aware of where I fit in the vast majority of my reader’s consciousnesses. I can, admittedly, come off as a bumpkin, a backwoods, butt scratching, buck toothed retard who loves snuff and dating his second cousin. We southerners are indeed, anomalies, a perception that I hope to at once augment and dispel with these letters from the trail…a large and imposing task indeed, but one that I feel adequately equipped to successfully accomplish.

While I regret to say that my chewing of Skoal straight smokeless tobacco has become something of a bad habit, I want all of you to know that the South is above all a place of character and, well shit, that’s what you want in your stories anyway, isn’t it?

But I digress.

Things on the trail are cracking. I am but a burgeoning, curly headed, lanky limbed Rasputin who really doesn’t know a damn thing about what he is doing. The only thing that may match my bravado is my ignorance. I must admit that my stated goal of putting a twenty-two year old white conservative in office in a district that has nearly 3,000 African-Americans (out of 5, 600 total registered voters) has seemed at times dubious, at times hopeful and at other times, altogether delusional. Despite my doubts, however, I can tell you that the trail has introduced me to a number of characters who are worth their weight in literary gold. I have found that, while I love in-depth discussion about voter dynamics, my readers may be drawn more to an in-depth description of the characters surrounding this most contentious of political contests.

I’ll start from the beginning, lay the groundwork and will hope to speak with you (well, not really with, more like to) on a regular basis.

For those political neophytes out there, partisan politics is indeed a nasty business that is, for the most part, conducted at even nastier locations. Twenty minutes into my tenure as campaign manager for my friend, I found myself in the buffet line at the local Western Sizzler, a grill ‘em up steak joint that serves rubber chicken and fried bananas, paper thin strip steaks and double deep fried chicken wings (that means they fry them twice).

Not quite having grasped the nature of the event we were attending, I had fashioned a speech for my candidate more appropriate for the inauguration of George W. or the introduction of Prince Charles; a grand, sweeping vision of where I wanted my candidate to take the county, the country, indeed, THE WORLD. I thought it was good and, up until the moment I found myself ordering the country fried steak buffet special, wholly appropriate for the meeting of the county Republican Party (I told you, I don’t have a fucking clue).

The first order of business was of course to introduce myself to the party faithful. When I arrived I met Dan (names have been changed to protect identity and, I must admit, my job…I am trying, first and foremost, to win).

Dan was a short, fat man with thinning hair who, while nice enough, sported a tie with a computer graphical depiction of a wolf emerging from his cave under the glow of a foggy half moon; a stirring portrait of animal vigor and the beauty of the wild had the chosen canvas not been the silk/polyester blend of a cheap tie. Lest my talons not dig too deeply into those who don’t deserve such treatment, I will say that my conversation with Dan while standing in line at the Sizzler did reveal him to be one hell of a nice guy.

One undeniable fact I have discovered in my three weeks on the trail is that people are fucking strange. Yes, yes, why state the obvious, but I have to tell you that no place are people’s glaring irregularities so publicly displayed than at the local political rally. For instance, at these events (now having been to more than six here in South Carolina and thus, speaking from experience) people regard you in two very distinct, unwavering ways. When I have introduced myself here on the trail, I’ve found that people regard you either as a traveling, scummy, mustachioed salesman (“I don’t participate in politics,” said one man as he devoured rubber chicken at the Republican Party monthly meeting) or as if you are a fellow mourner at the sad, tacky funeral of a very distant cousin. So what makes these rallies even worth attending, you may ask? They really start to heat up when the “party brass,” as I like to call them show up.

Like turbaned sultans on tigers they sweep into Sizzler meeting rooms all over the county, blessing the plebians with their enlightened ideas of local government: the zoning of turkey farms, the invasion of Wal-Mart, and the scintillating debate over whether Piggly-Wiggly should be able to franchise another store within city limits. They might as well float through the crowd. Somewhere in their minds there are television cameras and boom mikes and podiums from which to propagate. Yes, they are working the room at the Sizzler but in their minds they are tillers of the field, keepers of the gate, lords of the dance. The thing is though, they just aren’t that cool. In other words, they have no bravado, no collection, no semblance of any personal merit that might, attract a woman, let’s say.

I know, I know, such ranting sounds immature, but get used to it. I like to write in very choppy, experimental sentences, like I was inspired by a dime store knock off of a later Faulkner novel.

My personal political preference is to work the back channels. I have never been interested in becoming a politician myself, but have only craved the power to blackmail one to his fullest personal and financial extent (if I get the right piece of dirt that is). I know who I can turn into a successful public servant and who I can’t. I have to be honest, the party leaders in unnamed county, South Carolina, are utterly hopeless

While Dan, the party chair, was of course, a nice guy, I thought for sure that his superiors, the actual lords themselves would somehow break the mold of short, fat, sweating men that had typified the typical Southern party man. Alas, was I disappointed when I met Eugene, current council member and certified bowling ball on legs. He had a fat face with big cheeks and small eyes and his thinning red hair was swept to the side by a last minute, vanity mirror comb job. He was sweating his ass off in a cheap green blazer, camel-colored sweater vest and a pair of low cut black Reeboks, the kind that older women stuff in their purses to wear at the office once they can find occasion to shed their torturous high heels. The kicker, though, had me fucking steaming. I couldn’t even look Eugene in the face. When I saw that he had braces on his bottom teeth only, I wanted to jack him in the mouth, regardless of the metal lining on the bottom row of his, sharp, jagged, unwashed teeth. I had instant and uncontrollable anger. Was I uptight, nervous? Why was I so mad? I’ll tell you why. That Motherfucker had braces.

BRACES MAN!!!

No way, I thought. My visions of powerful men in sharp suits and clean haircuts had been dashed. I’ve only seen the president in person once and let me tell you, agree with him or not, that is a handsome man. And here was Eugene…fat, sweating, rotund Eugene, replete with a row of metal shinies on his bottom jowls. Was I going to listen to him about issues?

Fuck no, I’m a system fighter.

Yet, there I stood in the smoky conference room of Western Sizzler glad handing this mass of man, encouraging a meeting to discuss my candidate’s chances, a proposition that I’ll say was decidedly put to the side by Eugene, my short fat, at this very moment and in the haunted ones since, superior.

And, you see, these description are but an introduction to the evening that also included an in-depth description of crystal methamphetamine use in the county (did you know it has diesel gasoline in it…Good God) and the introduction to me of a sport named dog-hogging, a fight to the death between a hog with filed down teeth and a menacing pit bull trained only to rip out the hog’s throat (they get extra points or something for the most torturous of deaths). I believe this sport is pursued only with passionate interest in Haiti, Baghdad, the Siberian Tundra, Guantanomo Bay, 1940’s Germany and, of course, Back Woods, SC.

I must say, I’ve enjoyed this opportunity to unwind, pound at the keys a little as I ponder how much shit I ingest on a daily basis here in the cotton and soybean fields of the Midlands, South Carolina. I would be honored to keep my humble readers abreast of the dynamic movements here on the trail in South Carolina…or at the very least tell you about the curvy, volunteer coordinator I have hired.

In subsequent articles of course.

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