The headquarters of a Congressional campaign the week before the election is a busy place, with volunteers briskly strolling around sipping Starbucks coffee, reporters calling asking how they can help the campaign, and most prominently, the sound of the phone bank calling people reminding them to vote Fairchild. So when I walked into the office the day after Halloween, I expected the headquarters to be bustling and noisy. Instead, it was quiet as the proverbial tomb.
“Where is everybody?” I asked.
“You don’t know?” Polly said.
“I have no idea. We didn’t schedule a rally for today, did we?”
Polly thrust a piece of paper in my hands, which read as follows:
The Yale College of Fine Arts, Department of Socialist Interpretative Dance
In Conjunction with the Ellington College Division of Undergraduate Indoctrination
Presents
OPEN AUDITIONS
for
“BERNHILDA”
An Interpretive Chorographical Retelling of the 2016 Bernie Sanders for President Campaign
NO PREVIOUS DANCE EXPERIENCE REQUIRED
If you worked on the Bernie Sanders for President Campaign, please take the time to commemorate the historic moment where America almost elected a Socialist president and communicate his Trotskyite principles to the next generation
“Mother,” I said.
“What the hell is she doing? Could she not wait one week, until after the campaign?”
“She’s trying to be helpful,” I explained. “This is her way of trying to contribute to the campaign.”
“Stealing all the Bernie Bros who were doing the phone banks for us is not a net contribution to the campaign.”
“I know that, and you know that, but try telling it to her,” I said.
“You’re her son! You tell her.”
“She won’t listen to me. She doesn’t listen to anybody when it comes to interpretive dance. Ask me how I know.”
“How do you know?” Polly asked.
“The video was still up on YouTube, last I checked. Search for ‘little boy cries at dance recital,’ that ought to bring it up.”
“Oh. You poor thing. I never realized.”
“I know.”
“But what can we do? We need the Bernie Bros to make phone calls.”
“There’s only one thing we can do,” I said.
*
“Hey, there, Justin,” my dad said. “Make it snappy, if you could. I am trying to find out the name of the nitwit who thought it was a good idea to release the AT&T – Time Warner merger information before Election Day.”
“It wasn’t me,” I said.
“Well, of course not. What’s up?”
“Mother.”
“Oh, God, what’s she gone and done now?”
“She’s hijacked all of my phone bank staff for one of her interpretative dance projects.”
“God damn it. I told her to go down there and give you a hand in the campaign, specifically to get her mind off this Bernie Sanders project. I guess I should have been more specific. Sorry, kid.”
“I appreciate what you tried to do,” I said, “but I also need my phone bank back.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll call JUSTIN and let them take care of it.”
“But I called you.”
“Your super-PAC, son. They’ll take over the phone bank until the election. Satisfied?”
“Thanks, Dad.”
“Don’t mention it.”
“Oh, I won’t.”
“No, Justin, I mean don’t mention it. You’re not supposed to coordinate with your super-PAC, remember?”
“I know, Dad.”
“Okay, then. Gotta go.”
*
It had been a long day out on the campaign trail, which of course is not actually a real trail, although I did think of greeting prospective voters out on the segment of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Hanover County. But it was too cold out, and I decided to stick to the affluent Hanover suburbs.
I made the long drive home, just in time for dinner. Emma had made a larger-than-usual batch of vegetarian risotto, so I wasn’t overly surprised when she said that Mother was coming over for dinner.
“I can’t believe she would steal your Bernie Bros away from you like that,” she said.
“Let’s not even talk about it,” I said. “Believe me, the last thing that you want to hear her talk about is auditions and rehearsals. She can go on for hours about this kind of thing.”
“My plan is just to hand her Richie and let her do the grandmother thing,” Emma said.
“Fine by me,” I said.
The phone rang. “Can you get that?” Emma said. “I need to stir the risotto.”
“Sure.”
“Hello?” the voice on the other end of the line. “I am calling, please, from the Justin Trudeau campaign?”
There was something odd about the speaker’s voice, an odd variation on the traditional British accent.
“Justin Trudeau isn’t running right now,” I said.
“Excuse me, please, sorry. I am calling for Mister Justin Trudeau-Fairchild, who is running for the Congress of the United States in the New Jersey Province?”
“I’m Justin Fairchild,” I said.
“Yes, please, it is very very important that you are voting for the Honorable Mr. Trudeau in the American election next week, please, thank you.”
“Excuse me,” I said, “but where are you calling from?”
“Yes, please, I am calling from the official Justin Trudeau voting hotline center, thank you very much.”
“And that is located where?” I asked. I had a bad feeling about this.
“Yes, of course, I am at the Trudeau campaign headquarters in your beautiful New Jersey province.”
“But where specifically? Bangalore?”
“Oh, of course not. I have never been to Bangalore.”
“Then where?”
“Excuse me, please, thank you for voting for Justin Trudeau, sir.” And the connection hung up.
“Who was that?” Emma asked.
“My dad told me not to worry about the phone bank.” I said. “And I am now very worried about the phone bank.”
“Oh, no,” Emma said. “Is it bad?”
*
“It’s very bad,” Polly said.
“The calls are getting out there,” I said. “Okay, so the super-PAC hired a Sri Lankan firm to make the actual calls. I’m sure they had a good reason.”
“I don’t care if they had a thousand good reasons,” Polly said. “They are killing us. Did you hear the radio ad from Campbell this morning?”
“They have a radio ad already?”
“Justin Trudeau-Fairchild hired sub-minimum wage workers from Sri Lanka to manage his phone bank,” Emma quoted. “If he gets to Congress, then where will he outsource your job? Vote Campbell and vote for American jobs.”
“Oh, boy,” I said. “That doesn’t sound good.”
“This is a disaster! What were you thinking?”
“My dad said the super-PAC would take care of everything,” I said. “I never told him to, you know, outsource things to Sri Lanka! I’m not that big of an idiot!”
“Sometimes I wonder. Look, it’s done. I don’t see any way we salvage this. We just need to move on and try to make this campaign about the issues.”
“You’re giving up,” I said.
“You’ve seen the internals,” she said. “We’re sunk anyway. The Trump thing didn’t help us as much as we thought, and the Hillary e-mail thing is hurting us, even though we didn’t have anything to do with it.
We can’t push back on the phone bank effectively. We tell people we didn’t have anything to do with it, which is true, and move on.”
“I signed up on this thing to go the distance,” I said. “Maybe we can do a press conference. Bring in the local Indian population and point out that this is a coded racist appeal by Campbell.”
“We don’t have the time,” Polly said. She looked tired and defeated. “We’ll do the best we can with what we have. That’s all we could ever do, anyway.”
I went into my office, closed the door, and slumped down into my chair. I didn’t know what to do. I had fought as hard as I could for a seat in Congress, and I felt like it had all been for nothing. The phone rang, and I picked it up.
“Hello, please, I am asking you to vote for Justin Trudeau in the Tuesday election, kind sir.”
I hung up the phone, as nicely as I could.
*****
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
Week Eleven:The State Dinner
Week Twelve:The Maple Leaf Rag
Week Thirteen:The Large Endowment
Week Fourteen:The Transit Authority
Week Fifteen:The Ten Forty
Week Sixteen:The Bachelor Party
Week Seventeen:The Refugee Crisis
Week Eighteen:The Taco Bowl
Week Nineteen:The Trending Topic
Week Twenty-One:The Blessed Event
Week Twenty-Two:The 3AM Feeding
Week Twenty-Three:The Stuffed Elephant
Week Twenty-Five:The Turkey Jive
Week Twenty-Six:The Wiki Leak
Week Twenty-Seven:The Baby Bjorn
Week Twenty-Eight:The Passport Agency
Week Twenty-Nine:The Media Buy
Week Thirty-One:The Torricelli Option

Week Thirty-Two:The Trotsky Walkback

Week Thirty-Three: The Halloween Party