Let me tell you how I came to live in the northwest corner of New Jersey. For those of you who have been paying attention, you already know that the Texas newspaper I was working for was sold out from under me by an unscrupulous rat bastard, but that’s not really what I’m talking about.
No, I want to tell you about the methodology I used to come HERE, the actual living room from which I now pen these words.
I’d never been to New Jersey before flying here for a job interview. I mean, I lived in Texas, so why would I even want to go to New Jersey if I didn’t have to? When I accepted a position here, you might as well have put me on a different planet. In fact, back in 1995, I probably knew a lot more about Uranus than I knew about New Jersey.
So let me ask you, if you were suddenly uprooted and placed on the surface of Uranus, how would you go about finding a place to live and raise your family? Well, I used the Walmart Road Atlas Method. Here’s how it works:
- Place a thumb tack in the map at the location of your place of business. In my case, Newark.
- Attach a string to the thumb tack, then use the distance legend on the map to calibrate the length of the string to the distance you’re willing to drive to work every day.
- Attach a pen or pencil to the other end of the string.
- Draw an arc, then look for map locations near the line that pique your interest for whatever reason, keeping in mind that you’ve never actually heard of any of these places.
Also keep in mind that any Texan moving to New Jersey will have been warned beforehand about concrete and Superfund sites. Texans imagine the whole place is a toxic parking lot, a smoking crater of corruption, with nary a bottle of picante sauce to be found.
So while looking at the map, the thing that made my bowels twitch with delight was when I finally spotted several tiny picnic-table symbols scattered in one location near the arc I’d drawn. The map legend identified the picnic tables as parks and open space, and by god, that sounded good to me.
After linking up with a Realtor that my kids soon dubbed Chris Dork, we looked at several ridiculously priced properties and ended up buying a falling-down house with cat piss-saturated floors and a hole in the roof. Welcome to New Jersey, y’all!
Now, I’m sorry to report that everything you just read isn’t really what this post is about. You should have gathered that much from the headline, and by now you’re really confused about why I even bothered to tell you the story of how we came to live in this
dump house. I told you because there was something else that was important, something else that I failed to think about in 1995, something that the Walmart atlas did not depict.
Picnic tables there may be around here, but alas, there are no Democrats.
Today was the June 2 primary election, and like a good boy, I showed up to do my civic duty. After signing the book, the election worker handed me a perforated ballot on which I was to also sign my name. But just as I signed the second time, she let out a little gasp. “Uh-oh! He’s a Democrat,” she wheezed to the old boy sitting beside her. “I gave him a Republican ballot! Now what are we going to do?”
While they scrambled to void the first ballot — destined to become a collector’s item as the only piece of Republican propaganda with my name on it — I said, “Yeah, I’m one of only two Democrats registered in this precinct. My wife will be in later.”
“No,” the woman said, pointing to her stack of ballot stubs. “There was one here earlier, so there are at least three!”
That’s right, I enjoy the distinction of being just the second Democrat to vote in my precinct today, but really, why bother? Even the Democratic Party has apparently thrown in the towel around here. In most of the races they didn’t even bother to field a candidate, forcing me to wield the write-in pen!
When they count my ballot tonight — assuming the red-washed Christie lovers in these parts count it at all — they’ll find that I voted for Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Ann Richards.
A symbolic gesture? Of course it is, but in this corner of New Jersey, even a dead Democrat is better than no Democrats at all.
And speaking of symbols, the next time I move, I’ll be looking for more than picnic tables on the pages of my Walmart atlas. A depiction of elephants and donkeys would also be helpful.