"I just can’t believe you’re watching this," I said to Emma.
"Quiet," she replied. "Nobody is making you watch it."
"I think it’s important to take a stand about certain trends in our popular culture," I said. "If you’re going to watch television shows that are that intentionally biased and non-diverse, I have a responsibility to say something."
"Hush," Emma said.
"I’m not going to hush. Why should I?"
"Because I asked you to, and because I am your fiancee, and I’m carrying your child, and if you don’t let me watch this in peace, you are going to be changing all of the diapers around here for the first two months. Maybe the first two years."
"You have to agree with me that they could have done a few things differently."
"They could not have, and shut up."
"There’s not one African-American character on the show," I said. "It’s worse than the Oscars. At least they let Chris Rock host."
"I am not listening to you," Emma said. "I like this show, okay? I liked it when it was Full House, and I like it even more now that it’s Fuller House. Just Netflix and chill, okay?"
I would have said something else, but the phone rang and I picked it up, because even if it was Rachel from Cardholder Services, I’d rather talk to her than listen to one minute of Kimmy Gibler. "Hello, Justin Fairchild speaking."
"Hi, this is Maureen O’Kay with MSNBC? I handle booking for our afternoon show? I was looking for a Justin Trudeau-Fairchild?"
"That’s me."
"Okay, I was wondering, because this didn’t seem like a Canadian area code?"
"It’s western New Jersey. I’m not that Justin Trudeau. I’m running for Congress in the 13th district."
"Okay, well, you know, we’re doing a segment tomorrow afternoon? On millennials running for Congress? Okay? And I was wondering if you’d be able to take the train down to Washington to participate?"
"I’d be honored," I said.
*
I took the early Northeast Corridor train down from Trenton and got into Washington just as the sunrise was lighting up all the scaffolding on the Capitol dome. I got a cab and headed up to the MSNBC studios in Northwest Washington, where I was quickly shown to the green room.
"Okay," the booker said, "thank you so much for coming. Can you just wait here for a little while until we’re ready for you?"
"Sure, not a problem," I said.
"Okay, well, we used to have coffee for people? But we had some budget cuts? So we couldn’t afford fair trade coffee anymore? And then we put in a Keurig, but it turns out that the coffee pods for the Keurig aren’t actually recyclable?"
"Oh, I know."
"Okay, and of course we don’t have any bottled water?"
"Of course not," I said.
"Okay, and we do keep the TV in here tuned to MSNBC? And you’ll be sure to say that you watched the shows if anyone asks, because, ratings?"
"Of course."
"Okay? I’ll call you when they’re ready, then? Good luck?"
*
"And we’re live in our Washington studios with three millennial candidates for Congress," the host said.
"Let me introduce them all to you. We have Wayne Kozlovski, an organizer for Occupy Oregon, who’s running for the Green Party ticket in the Eighth District there, and Wade Bradley, Jr., a decorated Afghan War veteran, who’s a Republican running for the Fifth District in West Virginia, and Justin Trudeau-Fairchild, who is getting ready to announce a bid for the Democratic nomination for the Thirteenth District in New Jersey. I must say, Mr. Fairchild, you don’t look Canadian."
"I’m not Canadian," I said. "I’m not related to the Trudeau family in any way, although I was glad to see that Justin Trudeau won the premiership. But our names are similar, that’s all. I’m planning to run as my own man."
"Not as your father’s man?" Kozlovski said.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"I was told I’d get to tell the story of my journey from Occupy Oregon to the Green Party nomination," he said. "I was told that MSNBC was interested in my odyssey as a social justice warrior. Now I’m sharing the stage with a Republican, and the son of a Wall Street criminal. I can’t believe I trusted you guys."
I wanted to say, I’m a social justice warrior, too, but Polly and Emma had told me a thousand times not to say that because people on the right were starting to make fun of the term, which I didn’t understand, but went along with.
"My father is a hedge fund trader," I said, "and like millions of other Americans, he makes his money from investments in the stock market."
"That’s very well said, Mr. Trudeau-Fairchild," the Republican guy said. "We want the investor class to continue to do well and prosper, and the tax hikes that both of you favor are going to put an end to that."
"Can we talk about this guy’s father for a second? Charles Fairchild? Fairchild International? Wall Street tycoon? That’s who the Democratic Party ought to be out there fighting against, and what’s he doing? Bankrolling his son to get into Congress, that’s what."
"I am not just any scion of Wall Street," I said. (I had seen "Scion" on a car at the Hanover Shop-Rite, and Emma had told me what it meant.) "I am committed to fighting for the poor and the middle class in the Thirteenth District on important issues like climate change."
"Well, that’s another question," the Republican guy said. "How much fighting have either of you two actually done? I ask this, because I did two tours in Afghanistan, leading a recon platoon."
"I think that the purpose of the segment," the host said, "was highlighting that this is going to be the first election where millennial candidates have a real chance to win."
"Well, except for Mr. Kozlovski over there, who has about as much chance of being elected to Congress as Barack Obama has of retiring to West Virginia," the Republican said. The Green Party candidate’s face turned red at the jibe. "As far as being a millennial goes, they taught me how to serve at West Point, and I learned how to lead on the field of battle. That’s the kind of experience that West Virginia voters are looking for."
"You shut up," Koslovski said. "Both of you, shut up. America doesn’t need your kind. We need to organize around Bernie Sanders, and make Wall Street feel the Bern."
I decided I had to say something. "I just want to say that I would be a good candidate for the people of New Jersey. I would represent them to the best of my ability, and fight for what they believe in."
"There you go again," the Republican guy said. "I wouldn’t bet on you to fight Mr. Kozlovski over there."
"You want a piece of me, Wall Street? You and me in the green room? I’m ready if you are."
"Thank you to Mr. Kozlovski, and Mr. Bradley, and Mr. Trudeau for being our guests today on MSNBC. Next, we’ll discuss the impact of the Trump campaign on the bond market."
*
"You got sucker-punched," Aunt Joan said.
We were having a nice dinner at a hotel near her townhouse. I hadn’t talked to Aunt Joan, who of course is not my aunt, since she fired me late last year.
"I feel like an idiot," I said.
"Nobody will notice. You were on MSNBC. Doesn’t matter anyway. How do your internals look?"
"I’m not sure," I said. "I’m putting off my colonoscopy until after the election."
"Justin, for God’s sake. Your internal polling?"
"We’re making headway," I said. "We’re up to thirty-five percent name recognition, which, considering I was at zero a couple of months ago, is pretty good."
"Room for improvement," Aunt Joan said, around a mouthful of steak.
"Yes, ma’am," I said.
"No primary opponents?" she asked.
"Not so far," I said. "One, potentially, but he hasn’t committed to the race."
"Don’t take your eye off the ball, son," Aunt Joan said.
*
I took the last train out of Washington and drove north from Trenton. It was a lonely drive in the dark, and for the first time, I was less excited about the race than I had been the day before. I knew I’d be attacked by the Republicans, but I’d never thought I’d be attacked from the left. It was disorienting. But I was sure of myself, and my credentials. I would go forward. I would go the distance.
*******

Continue with Next week: The Negative Ad
Check out the previous installments:
Last year:
Week Forty-Nine:The True North
Week Fifty:The Garden State
This year:
Week Four:The Brain Trust
Week Six:The Snow Day

Week Seven:The Coin Flip

Week Eight: The Wicked Witch