October has been a month of experimentation for the ladies of a Packard Street apartment. When the night falls and the caws of crows outside our window blend into the thump-thumping of “Gangnam Style” from a first-floor tenant’s stereo, my roommates look to the living room. If I’m plopped on the floor, remote control in one hand, cell phone in the other and a bowl of Lucky Charms spilling over into my lap, my roommates — my little Pavlovian puppies — know to, as the kids say, GTFO. Why? It’s the hour (or two or three, if Jim Lehrer moderates) of the presidential debate.
It’s not that I don’t welcome friendly, political banter (if there is such a thing), but my roommates value their sanity. Sucked into the world of malarkey and precious pathos, I prefer a night spent threatening my blood pressure levels and following the insightful and educational commentary of trusty news correspondents. Did I say “news correspondents?” I meant Twitter comedians and old high school classmates.
A disappointment to the politically engaged and emotionally invested voting demographic, I have a confession. Though Donald Trump has yet to extort me for its admission, it’s a truth I must acknowledge nonetheless: I haven’t watched the 2012 presidential debates to seek a promising display of leadership ability and detailed plans for the future of our economy, national security and social issues. Instead, I shush the audience surrounding my television (the sound of absence can be deafening) and tune into what I consider another round of “American Idol” auditions. Cue music. Enter Ryan Seacrest. Cut away from Seacrest attempting a high five with a blind man. Sedate Paula Abdul. Enjoy.
President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney are America’s “desperate hopefuls,” lusting for the golden ticket to D.C. We, the voters, are the judges, varying in apathy and sobriety — some of us are Ellens, some Steven Tylers and some Abduls (that’s you, Undecided Voter. Sorry). To fully commit to this metaphor, I’ll even suggest that the Electoral College is “You at home, America;” Jennifer Hudson should’ve stayed, George W. Bush should’ve gone and who the hell is Kris Allen?
Sometimes the search for America’s next president produces a truly great moment — I mean a moment, not an off-hand comment, fragmented for future news coverage and catapulted into the Land of Soon-to-Be Memes (correction: the binder of soon-to-be memes). These are the rare minutes during which Obama or Romney fully answers a question without veering into “strong economy” babble, or when Simon Cowell’s nipples perk up at “real talent” in the form of a 19-year-old in cowboy boots.
But, let’s be honest, most minutes are at once insufferable and insatiable. It’s an evening spent predicting the next train wreck, sadistically amused by the embarrassment to which the candidates — I mean “contestants” — subject themselves.
As the night stretches on, I care less about Romney’s economic proposals and more about his comically tight smirk and friends’ suggestions via Twitter that he appears to be “consistently silent farting.” I’m too bemused by Paul Ryan’s personal anecdotes about the shape of his then-fetus daughter to note the value of his arguments. I suppose it’s hard to hear much through the snorts of my creepy-lone-girl maniacal laughter.
As the election season draws to its close, so does the curtain over the theatrical production that is the series of presidential debates. I know who I’m voting for (Aiken/Archuleta 2012!), but if you don’t, no worries. “America” doesn’t always get it right — right, Taylor Hicks?