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For Halloween: A Real-Life Creepy Story

 I was performing at Zoo Boo last night, a children's event in Upstate New York.  While arrayed as a pirate, I play the guitar and sing mostly children's songs with a smattering of Halloween tunes and Rock n' Roll. I was sitting down on the floor in my jaunty hat, strumming away and interacting with the tiny costumed Batmans and Tinkerbells when I started to realize that something was off.

I saw a dude with a pair of Serious Cameras around his neck. Then another and another...press, but not the sort of press that covers community events. A sea of expensive suits, and then there he was: Carl Paladino, Republican gubernatorial candidate for the state of New York. He had come to this event (that is all about kids) to wander in a very-traffic blocking fashion through the lobby and glad-hand people in a last push for votes.

I kinda think he looks like a Sith Lord.

So. Darth Paladino looked down at me for a time, and then, as I was playing and singing (yes, friends, I am in the middle of a song at this point in the story), he bent down, held out his hand to me, and left it there. I looked at it as though to say 'dude, I'm clearly busy,' but it stayed. I stopped playing my guitar to brusquely accept his hand. He leaned closer and just above a whisper said "Vote Carl Paladino for Governor." Then, the man moved on.

I don't care if you are a Democrat, a Republican, a liberal, a conservative, a peacenik, a warhawk. Whatever. It was rude. This man got between me and the kids that I was there to serve. He didn't wait until the song was finished. He didn't even wait until the verse was finished. He inserted himself into what I was doing with the sole intention of bringing benefit to him campaign for governor. Even the hyperactive toddlers that come to this event know that they need to wait until I am done with a song to bum rush me, but this guy thought it was appropriate to step right in.

A photographer asked me my name, and I was very clear: "I don't want to end up part of some political campaign ad."

"It's not like that."

"Well, who are you?"

"I'm with the Post-Standard."


She seemed nearly as embarrassed about the whole thing as you'd expect any decent human to be, so I gave her my name, in hopes that her camera caught my clear discomfort, the feeling of interruption. Hoping that if they run it, it looks like Darth Paladino treading where he wasn't wanted.

To make matters creepier, one of the expensively attired old men in his entourage leered at me a few songs later and said (and I can in no way overstate how much I did not like the vibe coming off of this fellow), "Well. You're a pretty buccaneer." I can see saying that sweetly to a little girl in an eyepatch, but it felt strangely charged from old Republican dude to thirty-year old woman working an event. "Thank You," I replied, because I was working and I felt compelled to be gracious in front of the kids. I would like to note, though, that I was scowling as I said it, and I was thinking 'I will hurt you, creepy old man, please fuck off.' It was so wholly inappropriate.

I get it. I know everyone feels passionately about their point of view. I understand that many, many of these issues are divisive and charged and that ultimately, you want the guy (yeah, yeah, it's almost always a guy...sigh) who values what you value to be the guy in office. If you are in the position to vote for Carl Paladino, I just want you to be advised that he appears to have poorer manners than a toddler, and that's NOT the man I'd ever want speaking for me (even if he was pro-gay marriage and supportive of women's reproductive rights).

For me, it ultimately comes down to integrity. From my place amid the children, I didn't observe any last night.

Thank god I'm trick or treating with Jimmy and Colin later.  That's going to finish casting all this nastiness off of my person, I think.  Bleck.


( 1 best shot — Fire Away! )
Oct. 31st, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
You'd think that to reach a point of moderate political prominence, he'd have learned basic kindergarten manners. Politics aside, I think most people over the age of 5 know it's rude to interrupt a performer in the middle of a performance.

I picked 5, because at 4, Rachel definitely has not gotten the memo yet.
( 1 best shot — Fire Away! )


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