For years, I cringed whenever election season was coming, because I’d have to endure TV ads. These days, thanks to technology, I watch most shows when and where I want, and don’t have to endure ads. But also thanks to technology, I now have to deal with emails.
The first time I got one of these, this summer, it was from “Sarah Jessica Parker”. My phone just previews the sender, title, and first couple words of the email. The first few words were, “Dear Peter ... “ I paused for a moment. Was this really the girl from “Sex and the City” emailing me personally? Had she read one of my columns and just wanted to reach out and tell me what a hoot I was? Of course not. She was just asking me to vote for the president. I was a little miffed. I don’t send her emails telling her how great Samantha was on the show.
SJP was just softening me up for the big guns. Soon I started getting emails regularly, from Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, and even, on occasion, the president himself. Each email started with a “Dear Peter” or a “Hey, Peter, wanted you to ... “ “Peter, what do you think about ... “I have just enough of an inflated ego that for a second each time, I’d think “Well, all right, all right, all right, somebody finally noticed me ... “ before I’d realize I was one of 650,000 recipients. (This is not entirely true. When I got the emails from Joe Biden, I just hit delete without even a thought. Nobody actually knows what a vice president does, other than get up every morning and hope, while brushing his or her teeth, that today will be “the day”.)
Many of the emails offered me a chance to dine with the president. If I donated five bucks, I’d be entered into a drawing, and the winner would sit down with POTUS for a meal someplace. I like the president, but I simply don’t think I want to have dinner with him. He’d probably want to talk about the economy and the threat from al-Qaeda, and I’d want to talk about something idiotic the mom from “Honey Boo Boo” said. I see a lot of uncomfortable pauses. I’m also guessing there will be a lot of cameras and reporters when we sit down to dinner. I’m not sure I could digest my food with all that going on. I’m also pretty sure Michelle doesn’t allow you to ask for seconds, let alone thirds.
At one point, they seemed to realize that I wasn’t up for a full dinner, and I got an invitation to win a chance to grab a beer with the president. That would almost be worse. I’ve seen those events, with two guys sitting stiffly at a table while cameras click away, with the president wearing a tie and barely touching his glass. I hate to tell the president how to be a man, but most of the time when guys get together for a beer, it’s in casual clothes, at a bar that smells like an old guy’s underarm, and they crab about their wife and kids. And if I were to sit down with a guy who only took one sip of his beer, I’d just get plain mad. You can have your disagreements about foreign policy or tax plans, but nobody, nobody wastes a perfectly good beer. I’d probably end up snatching his beer and chugging it before we left the table.
The emails keep coming, every few days, and it’s starting to feel a little awkward. We all have a couple in our lives who can’t seem to take a hint. You see them at the supermarket or at a kid’s soccer game, and they say, “Hey! We should go out to dinner!” in a tone like they just had a major epiphany and you say, “Yeah! We’re just so busy all the time!” in a tone that sounds like you have a bug in your mouth.
What I will do, however, is wait until after the election. It’s looking more and more like the president is going to win another term and probably doesn’t need my five bucks at this point. Once he’s safely into his second term, though, I’m going to call up the White House and ask them to put Barack or Michelle on the phone. I can tell the operator that these two knuckleheads have been pestering me all summer to get together for dinner, but things have been so crazy with vacation and yard work that I was just catching up now.
I don’t want to push the issue too hard, though. Nobody wants to have dinner with the Secret Service.