In which Deb Kristina gives up a political career

liarsI ran for office, once. As far as I know, I only got one vote. Mine.

It was for class secretary in eighth grade. Middle school already being arguably one of the most miserable times in any kid’s life, especially that of a distinctly unpopular kid like me, it’s unfathomable why I put myself through this. (I wonder now if my parents knew this would be a debacle. Did they cringe for me? Or if they think I had a shot?)

I made up some signs on posterboard with marker. My drawing is about as terrible as my handwriting, which as everyone knows, is awful to legendary proportions. The signs had terrible puns, too. I remember one which showed someone running off a dock to catch a boat, and missing. Splash! The slogan was, “Don’t miss the boat, vote for Kris.” Cringe, cringe.

Then I saw the signs of my popular and well-loved competition. They were splashy, and decorated, and they were done in volume and posted everywhere, obviously written up by a team of popular people all helping out their popular friends.

It soon became clear to me what a colossal mistake this was. But, there were campaign speeches to come.

In front of the whole cafeteria, at lunchtime, we had to give speeches. I swear, one girl approached the podium in a backless dress, to the hoots and delight of the assembled middle school boys. I wasn’t sure why a backless dress was so appealing (what’s hot about someone’s back? I wondered) but it was a damn sight better than whatever I was wearing.

My speech had some line in it about “I’ve never had detention and I always turn my work in.” Cringe, cringe. My best friend admitted she didn’t vote for me.

You know, I’d still like to vote for the candidate who has never had detention and always turned his or her work in. Why is it a liability to be a goody two-shoes in this world? Don’t we want good little Girl Scouts running things?

Apparently not, as I was reminded during my time covering small town politics as a newspaper reporter. The flashy, bombastic candidates always seemed to snag the attention away from the quiet do-gooders.

I’m clearly not cut out for modern politics, but I hold out hope someday for a squeaky-clean candidate to run on a platform of never having had detention.

Deb Kristina

18 thoughts on “In which Deb Kristina gives up a political career

  1. Ack, Kristina, I feel your pain . . . my campaign slogan for the first race I lost was “Do your duty, vote for Judy.” Yeah, a cooler girl won.

    But I’m with you–I like the squeaky clean candidates.

  2. The worst thing about middle school isn’t the experience itself – it’s how much of it infuses our identities through the rest of life. Memories from that era (and they are usually memories of rejection) remain so STRONG. I’d like to think we’re better for it, but I’m not so sure.

  3. Kris, my twin and I both ran for offices our senior year on a “squeaky clean” platform. My sister, who was also voted friendliest girl in the class, ran for president, while I, who was no where near in the running for friendliest girl, and apparently riding on her coattails of popularity, ran for class treasurer. We shared a slogan: “Don’t be wayward, vote for Hayward” (Hayward was our last name).

    Two things happend with that election. We both won our elections and from that day forward were known as “the wayward Haywards.” Try explaining that one to your teenage sons at the class reunion family picnic!

    Seriously, Kris, I’d like to think we could elect the goodie-two-shoes but I’ve grown pessimistic enough to doubt they exist. Hope I’m wrong.

  4. Finding your way and your place in middle schoold is tough, frenetic, and with a little luck–builds character. Alas, we (myself included) don’t always vote for goody two-shoes to serve as our leadership–think Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton. We have arived where we are today because of this paradox or perhaps, in spite of it. I am grateful you turned to writing.

  5. Oh, dear… This discussion reminds me of the cartoon in the New Yorker in which a teenage girl scornfully tells her parents that they’ve ruined her writing career by giving her a “normal happy” childhood. I’m sure that popular girl in the backless dress just wishes she could write as well as you, Kristina!

  6. Oh, poor you! I think this goes under “character building” as a memory. I have quite a few of those “character building” memories–whole phases, in fact. I firmly believe they help one become a better writer though.

    Great post!

    D.

  7. I think the whole “Don’t miss the boat” slogan – along with the visual is very clever. Your true genius was showing even in middle school. You just had to find your creative path. Clearly middle school politics was never meant to be your calling!

  8. Judy, at least you had a clever rhyme!

    Jill, you’re not kidding about middle school. It’s like a lion’s den after the relative coziness of elementary school.

    Danielle, good for the wayward Haywards! What is it about rhyming slogans? Maybe I needed something to rhyme with Riggle. Um, or maybe not…

    John, I know just what you mean. I can’t claim to always vote for the goody two-shoes myself! I think the political sphere should be grateful I turned to writing, too.

    Thanks Eileen for stopping by, sorry for the shudders, though. Meredith, if I had that cartoon I’d post it on my wall. Funnily enough, I was a happy kid anyway, despite my nerdiness and other trauma like failing driver’s ed. I guess I’m constiutionally optimistic.

    Becky, I’m smiling thinking of you posting that leaping photo on your blog this summer!

    Danielle Y-U, yeah, my character got built up quite a bit in middle school!

  9. In sixth grade, I ran for sergeant on the safety patrol squad. I knew I’d win because there were more girls than boys, and all the girls were voting for me and all the boys were voting for the boy.

    If only things were still so simple!

  10. Kristina,
    I love the “cringe cringe” parts. I can absolutely relate to that feeling. Why is it we remember those “cringe” momments with so much clarity? Wouldn’t it be nice if they would fade away?

  11. For me, middle school was the best part of my educational experience. It was not nearly as intimidating as High School where you became a very small fish in a large pond. Our Middle School consisted of about 100 students in 7th and 8th grade and we shared the building with K-6 but on the top floor. Never ran for office. Much too shy. Played on our school athletic teams and was a ‘star’. Never was good enough when I got to HS. I too loved your missed the boat slogan. I was never that clever. I’d have voted for you without a doubt.

  12. Katie, that’s a cute story about safety patrol. I was a safety, too! I didn’t have to be elected for that. I did probably put that in my speech, too.

    Kristine, yes, those cringe moments really stick with you. But then, I don’t know that I want to forget them. I can laugh at most of them, now. And I think even the most popular kids had their own moments. Come to think of it, maybe the girl in the backless dress hated that the boys hooted at her?

    Frank, thanks for the support! High school is another world again from middle school, I know. My high school was huge but one thing I liked about that was I could find my own niche (in my case, National Honor Society nerds and band/orchestra, then the school newspaper.)

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