November 24: National Parfait Day
It was before first period when I saw it—right next to one of my posters. My jaw almost dropped to the floor in abject horror. A huge picture of him, smirking and giving a snarky double thumbs-up. Beneath it:
LUKE BARTON FOR PRESIDENT OF VICE
Oh, no! He did’nt! I looked around, clenching my teeth. There were witnesses. A girl from my pre-calculus class was staring at me. Beside the stairs, I spotted Eric Crowther and a few of his freak-a-zoid friends, looking up and down to cover up their ambulance-chasing curiosity to my reaction. Eric didn’t look away though. He shook his head and bit his lip as if to say, Whatcha gonna do about that?
Instincts took hold and I was suddenly speed-walking down the hall. I passed Eric and started running, indifferent to how histrionic it must have looked. I darted mercurially in and out of aggregations of people, negotiating hallway traffic.
Campaign headquarters was near the entrance to the gym. I caught it out of the corner of my eye as I ran by and put on the brakes like a cartoon character. I wiped my brow as I approached, trying to focus in on the man behind the booth.
Give me a break. Luke was wearing a cowboy hat, a leather biker’s jacket, dark aviator glasses and fingerless gloves. A boom box next to him was playing “Free Bird” at low volume. He was perched on a makeshift throne and held a staff in his right hand. A multitude of well-wishers flanked him on all sides, both male and female. The guys were predominantly composed of mulleted rednecks doing guitar solos, but with a few inquisitive pre-frat boy types in the mix as well. The girls appeared to be a coalescence of freshophomores diverted from gym class by the thick miasma of testosterone. Several signs were posted, with messages boasting varying degrees of inanity. The few that stick out in my mind are:
DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE
VICE RULES THE WORLD
FREE MONEY FOR ALL!
I charged right up to the front of the booth. “What is all this? Are you running against me?”
“I’m not running against anyone. I’m running independently, for the lesser-known but imperative office of President of Vice.”
A few of his underlings cheered. Luke smiled.
“Oh, yeah?” I said. “What’s your platform?”
“Platform . . . hmm. I guess you could say my goal is to perpetuate the ideals of vice and immorality.”
“Cute. Are you mocking me?”
Luke shrugged. “Why do you get that idea?”
“Because if so, you’ve gone way too far. You’ve taken uncouth to phase two.”
“Hell, no, we won’t go! Hell, no, we won’t go!” They pumped their fists in shared gaiety, chanting in unison, flouncing about like a family of splashing ducks. “Hell, no, we won’t go! Hell, no, we won’t go!” Even the girls in their gym shorts had joined in.
“What does that mean?” I beseeched. “Go where?”
Luke shrugged again. “That’s unclear.”
“Jerk.” I turned and walked away. I found out at lunchtime that Luke got suspended for two days for his grievous misconduct. To that I can only respond, in the immortal words of Bart Simpson . . . heh heh.