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Election Day, will you please go away?

By SANDRA THOMPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 11, 2000


A week ago Tuesday, before the week that never ended, the bug man came to the house with his poison spray and said, "Can't you just wait for this election to be over?"

We commiserated with each other on the two candidates and their deportment so far. "Either of the vice presidential candidates would have been better," he said. We didn't mention the name of the candidate who'd get our vote. We were linked in our disgust -- whom we were voting for hardly seemed to matter. I figured he was voting for Bush. I asked; he was.

Later that day I went to have a dress and a couple of jackets altered. "I can't wait until next Tuesday is over," said the woman pinning up my sleeves, a Tampa native for more years than she might like me to mention. She said McCain would have been better. We both liked Clinton better. She was voting for Gore. But, like the bug man for Bush, she wasn't happy about it.

The next day on the treadmill at the health club, a friend -- a psychiatric nurse born in Turkey -- said she was totally sick of the whole thing and couldn't wait till it was over. She's a Republican but pro-choice and was voting on future Supreme Court appointments -- that is, for Gore. "I hate to do it," she said.

At lunch a friend, a college professor, jibed at the foolishness of the two big-party candidates. She was voting for Nader. And while she wholeheartedly supported her candidate, she still wasn't sure if it was the right thing to do. A friend had urged her at a party a few weeks before, "Florida is a swing state! You can't vote for Nader!" But, of course, in a week it would all be over.

It's not over.

I'd dreaded the election night hoopla, with the winner being magnanimous and all his supporters in silly hats whooping and hollering or, oh god, maybe Al kissing Tipper again. It never occurred to me there could be something worse.

I went to bed early and at 12:30 got up and went downstairs where my husband was still glued to the TV. No prez yet.

"What's the deal down in Florida?" came a call Wednesday morning from my ex in New York. "Who's winning?" He thought I'd have some inside track from the newspaper. Actually, I was still in bed. "I hear in the Panhandle blacks were barricaded from the polls."

I figured that was just some nonsense from a superior New Yorker who thinks we're all living in the 1950s down here. "Black people are allowed to vote in Florida," I said smugly.

"When will it be over?" cried a friend when I answered the phone Wednesday night. She's a hairdresser, a Democrat who actually said she likes Gore. "Well, I don't like his personality," she went on to modify. "I like his policies."

His personality shouldn't matter, she says.

I'm not sure about that.

It's been reported that after Al called George W. Tuesday night to withdraw his concession, and George acted, well, less than thrilled, Al said, "Well, don't get snippy about it."

Snippy? Don't get snippy about maybe not being the leader of the free world after all? I mean, it's no biggie.

Is that the kind of diplomacy Gore would use with Arafat?

Can't the next four years just go away?

A long time ago a friend of mine was seeing a psychiatrist, a Russian woman in her 70s. He -- a musician and comedy writer -- was moaning about his wife, who was tone deaf and had no sense of humor.

The psychiatrist replied, "We get the governments and spouses we deserve."

Bill Clinton, won't you please come home?

- Sandra Thompson is a writer who lives in Tampa. City Life appears on Saturday.

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