I Think I Threw the Presidential Election

Standard

No, not that election. The Eastern High School Class of 1988 presidential race. Like, duh.

I’m not kidding when I say there’s a real chance I may have tainted the results. Add the fact that I was actually one of the candidates, and you’ve got the makings of an Academy Award-winning thriller. Think All The President’s Men plus really big hair, raging hormones, dried out Clearasil acne wipes, and teen angst, and you’ve pretty much got the seedlings of a plot. (O.K., so maybe my story isn’t Oscar-caliber material, but it’s at least BAFTAish, or something the International Indian Film Academy would really like).

Tricky Dick. Image via Flickr.

Anyway, in order to move forward in life we sometimes need to go back. In this case, all the way to 1984, when as an EHS freshman, I ran for and won the Vice Presidential race. Back then, Eastern was the home of the fighting eagles, Future Farmers of America (FFA wants your offspring, especially if Jon Junior knows how to wield a scythe), the Rifle Team, and some sweet hamburger hash made in Home Ec. Serving as Vice President was totally awesome because:

Our lunch ladies loved serving hamburger hash.

1. Similar to other VPs, I didn’t have to actually do anything the entire time I held office. Our class President was the heavy lifter, and as Vice President, I just sat in the lunchroom at after-school meetings, nodded my head strenuously to everything she proposed, and threw back like, three Mountain Dews and five or six Little Debbie snack cakes in an hour. By the time we finished? I cruised out the door in a sugar-coated fog and laid down some serious back handsprings waiting for my mom to pick me up.

2. I trolled around every hallway and corridor in the building without a pass. In high school, the freedom to go where you wanted, when you wanted traded like jail cell currency.  Because I was an elected official, our super-sleuth security guard who busted kids for smoking in the bathroom, cutting class, and bad personal hygiene, just smiled and waved whenever I walked by.

3. Major action in the yearbook. Check out the ginormous pic on the front page of the freshman class section. That’s me in the top left corner with braces, cloisonné earrings, and my eyes closed. I’m probably taking a nap.

I wanted asymmetrical hair sooo bad. But Mom said no.

All in all, being VP was pretty great until all hell broke loose the summer before sophomore year when our reigning President’s family decided to move. Left with a gaping hole at the top of our ranks after summer break, all eyes turned to you-know-who to fill the spot, which I was happy to do because:

1. I still had braces and thought that Class President credibility might deflect from the consistent cornucopia of processed lunch meat stuck between my teeth.

2. Class Officer status was the gateway to being voted Class Favorite. Class Favorite was the portal to, well, an entirely parallel universe of popularity…snagging both the best table in the cafeteria (if you beat the upperclassmen through the lunch line), and the back row on the bus (unless you had a friend with an older brother you could pay to drive you home).

3. I wanted that big picture in the yearbook again.

4. Winning would score major points with my mom.

With a fair amount of effort on my part and the support of my class blowing like the wind at my back, I won. Thrust into a position of real expectation, I surprised myself and thrived.

Life at the time was pretty sweet. Or so I thought. But every rise paves the way for a massive fall, and mine was bathed in a hue of true idiocy.

That's me at the bottom with my feet kicked back on the desk. And a stupid look on my face. And a Mountain Dew in my hand.

In an effort to make everyone happy that year, I played both sides to the middle.  Not in my Presidential duties…I was pretty solid there. I failed in the day-to-day details with my friends…the exact people who voted me into office, but more importantly, shared the highlights of my life.

Whenever my old school besties asked me to hang out on the weekend, I’d say yes, find out that my miscreant upper class boyfriend was going somewhere else with or without me, ditch my original plans, and follow him right down the road to my demise. Not only was I hanging out way too much with someone everyone else said was a waste of a second thought, I was spending zero time with the people who mattered; after saying I would, then bagging out at the last minute, making up a transparent excuse, and canceling plans. I was a total turncoat, or the slam of all high school slams, two-faced.

Aaron Eckhart as Two-Face in The Dark Knight

Image via Wikipedia.

Sitting under a heavy cloak of the damage I’d done, I half-heartedly ran for President again at the beginning of my junior year because, really, what incumbent doesn’t seek a second term? I lost (big shock), to my Sergeant-at-Arms who I thought had my back. But I was totally out of touch, and she probably thought I was doing drugs in the bathroom with my loser boyfriend (for the record I wasn’t), and was looking at a bigger picture than I wasn’t allowing myself to see.  All’s fair in love, war, and high school though, and today I hold no grudge.

Queen Bee (comics)

Class President and Queen Bee. Image via wikipedia.

By winter break, I truly felt the sting of loss. Not the election necessarily, but the gravity of important friendships I let slip away. So rather than spending my weekends pining after a guy who wasn’t going any further than juvie jail (that relationship is a blog in and of itself: totally cute rebel who walks the wrong side of the line and has a Pied Piper effect on anyone who crosses his path, or maybe not anyone, but definitely me), I got my act together. I dumped the loser, started dating a great guy (still older, but every girl I knew trended up), and began the process of fixing all of the important relationships I allowed to fall apart.

English: Studio publicity portrait for film Giant.

By the time senior year rolled around, I was back. Tight with my besties, focused on the future, and ready to run, again, for the spot at the top. I was lucky. My friends gave me a second chance, which isn’t the way every story unfolds.

Eyes clear and looking forward, I realized how much I missed being a leader while following someone else around, and I wanted my old job again. I made flyers, posters, buttons, and glitter-glued banners with my name in huge, neon-lettered sparkle paint. I promised a ski trip to the seniors if I was elected (yes, you can pledge whatever you want in high school and you can actually ski in Kentucky if you don’t mind face-planting down an ice hill in your long underwear and Jordache jeans), and envisioned plans for dances, parties, and prom. I chose a grassroots representative in every home room, spread the word, solicited votes, and put myself out there. I wanted to win. Bad.

But because I was seventeen, or stupid, or still a little too concerned with looking cool, I voted for the incumbent Prez when it came time to cast my ballot. Yes, I intentionally put my chit solidly behind the other team. In case I lost. Which I did. As fate and everyone voting that day decided it should be.

When the school Principal announced that the other girl had won, he made a point to note over the PA system for everyone to hear, that it was the closet class election in the history of our school. This meant nothing to everyone else and the world to me. So I got up, calmly walked out of class (my former officer status still bought me a free pass in the halls), slammed into the girl’s bathroom, and cried.

Big hair can hide your pain.

Had I lost by a vote? Handed-delivered the election to my opponent in a vain attempt to act like I didn’t care? Changed the course of history on that fateful day?

Probably not, but there are lessons to be learned here, and if anyone running for office or running away from the good things in life happens to stumble on this blog, you might consider taking my mistakes to heart.

1. Don’t take anyone for granted. Ever. Especially people you truly love.

2. Protect your base, because if you don’t? They’ll find someone else who will.

3. Stay away from anyone who might tarnish your reputation. Or does drugs. Or gets tossed out of school. Or goes to jail. Or treats you badly. Or is crazy. Or doesn’t floss. Or is a future embezzler. Or kicks your dog.

4. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

5. Don’t try to be all things to all people and try not to be anything to some.

So that’s it. My elected official days are long gone, which is good, because now that I’m writing, you never know when the skeletons in my closet might decide to wake up.

32 responses »

    • OMG, to not only have the presence of mind, but the power to rig superlatives. That is A-W-E-S-O-M-E.

      With three children, I get to relive my mistakes in triplicate, which is going to be oh-so-much-fun. Thanks for the note!

  1. What a delightful read…and to think, I was there during the whole run with the druggy boyfriend and the awesome friends (uh-hmm) and the elections and the scary security guard and the big hair and the jordache jeans. Sigh. I miss the 80’s.

    • Bootes,

      I can honestly say that YOU were the determining factor in me losing the loser. Story for another time though, because I don’t wanna make you cry. =)

      We had so much fun, and I can’t wait to walk down memory lane with you again this summer.

      Hope all is well and thanks for the love.
      Whit

  2. i just LOOOOVE this post. and you’re looking at a sophomore class president right here. (though i try not to put that on my resume any more…) lost the presidency in my senior year because – and i’m not kidding – my mother shipped my american ass off to colombia my junior year because i had a boyfriend she didn’t like…and she was right not to like him, like yours – total loser. why do girls do that??!! so, when i came back senior year people were like…whhoooo? they thought i had been pregnant or shipped off to rehab. hmmm, maybe i have to write that post. anyway, what a fun read this was and this was my all time favorite line, it made me smile real wide: “protect your base because if you don’t, they’ll find someone else who will.” how true, how true. loved it.

    • Awwww, thanks Becky. I love it when you visit my blog and leave such awesome notes. I suspect we share even more commonalities than sophomore class Presidents who hit the skids, so it’ll be fun to continue to peel back the layers. =)

      There is logic, reason, and an uncontrollable hormonal urge that goes into the good girl/bad boy combo. That really is a post worth writing, as long as I can keep my blood pressure down long enough to get to the end. When one of my daughters eventually comes home toting a motorcycle riding, chain smoking, Ray Ban-wearing, dark-haired, dark-eyed lead singer in the local band by the pinkie? I’m locking the doors and never letting her back out.

      • lol. indeed. i’ll come over carrying something that showcases my 2nd amendment rights to back you up if you want. they do that in colorado, right? i’ll wear durangos…he, he. once again, your comment is as good as your post and you should write that good girl/ bad boy thing…sounds like a winner.

    • You’re a smart mom, Maggie. My girls aren’t even out of elementary school yet and they’ve each nailed the exaggerated eye roll response to anything meaningful I try to say. Thanks for the hair love too. Mine’s very fine and flat by nature, and it took about an hour and a teeny-tiny curling iron to get the volume you see in the pic. I’m so happy styles have changed, and that when big hair rolls around again I’ll be rocking a nice, purplish-grayish wig. =)

  3. “Stay away from anyone […] who does drugs].”
    Oh, Stacie. I tried. God, I tried. But I just couldn’t get away from myself. Wanker.
    CoF

    • OK so here’s the thing. There was the self-destructive, self-loathing, father-hating, going straight to prison, male, recreational drug user, and there was the smart, out-of-the box, funny, still able to make the honor role and charm the parents, male, recreational drug user. Two totally different people. So tell me you’re option B and I’ll give you the same verbal pass I used to troll around the halls at school.

      • B all the way my friend.
        But that is a me from far far away land and time.
        I like reading you, but you know that already.
        CoF

  4. Now this is getting weird, because in the mid-80s, I was also consuming Mountain Dew and Little Debbie snack cakes for lunch. Seriously. Luckily, my diet has improved since then (I now drink Diet Mountain Dew and eat fancier chocolates). As has my hair.

    Great post, and at least, you drafted some wonderful life lessons in the process!

    • There’s a reason some of us are attracted to others in the blogosphere…I think our writing voices kind of mirror our personalities, and like attracts like. I love it when I have an excuse to get all new-agey. Anyway, Sweetmother was also sophomore class prez, and when Cristy gets over to comment, I’m willing to bet she lived on Mountain Dew too. Thanks, as always, for your awesome support, Carrie. I too, am happy to have better, if not weaker, hair. =)

  5. You are so brave…and funny, my blogging bestie. I have a hard time believing you ever abandoned your friends because you’re the best blogging bestie a girl could ever have. Anyway, love the post, love the hair more, love the clothes even more, if that’s possible. Oh, and by the way, I floss. 🙂

    • Thanks BB. You’ve always got my back and I’m so so so lucky for that. In hindsight, I didn’t mean to abandon my friends, I just could never say no. So I said yes. To everything (almost). And then ended up doing nothing. On a Friday night. Which sucked.

  6. Asymmetrical hair…LOL How funny you are. Great post. Both of my kids were political animals from Junior high all through high school. I still have a Rubbermaid box filled with all of the stuff they passed out and their speeches, etc. I was a political stage mom..lol

  7. A friend of mine ran for class president in 7th grade and I was his campaign manager. When election day came, I voted for some other kid. He lost. But it was a landslide anyways, so my vote wasn’t the deciding factor. The kid that won promised no more homework. He was a fucking liar. The kid who’s campaign I ran is actually an elected official in Massachusetts now. I still wouldn’t vote for him though.

    • Bill,
      You must be bored. Or unable to sleep. Or both. That having been said, please read my old work and comment as much as possible. Your comments make me look like I’m hanging with the cool kids, which is still way more important to me than I’d like to admit.
      Stacie

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