7.50am EST Election day has dawned bright and crisp in Brooklyn, and I am confined to bed with some unidentified beastly virus. Verily I am sick unto death, and other old-timey shit.
Yesterday, with my guts violently punching themselves into unconsciousness, I figured it was food poisoning. Perhaps it was the heartbreakingly gorgeous burger I had at legendary Manhattan diner Paul’s, a burger surely hand-formed on the buttocks of a Cuban virgin: or maybe the tandoori shrimp scoffed down at a tiny curry house, the second of two adjacent, outside which two men in suits physically fought for my patronage. I had turned right. Of course I should have gone left. There’s a laboured voting metaphor to be fashioned here by someone healthier and shamelesser than I.
But this is all academic – waking in a watery head-smothered haze of mental, physical and spiritual weakness, I concentrate long enough to conclude that yes, New York’s eateries are blameless and I am merely brought low by some vicious consortium of evil microbes. However! My spunky British blitzy keep-calm-and-carry-on stiff-upper-lippedness will surely combine with my lusty American moxie to... to enable me to... it’s... wait.
8am REPORT ON THE ELECTION oh yeah that’s it.
I may require chemical assistance.
8.05am My gracious hosts E and V leave me with water, English tea, a wastebin and various suspicious-looking Walgreens items within reach, and head out. E is an ex-pat Londoner without a vote, going straight to work, frustrated at not being able to participate; V is a New York girl going to cast her vote for Obama. For the last few days mention of the election has induced in them a glassy-eyed terror-stare and a doomy intonation of “TUESDAY”. V is “shocked and baffled” that it’s even close.
Her Facebook friends have been ringing all kinds of alarms. “If a poll watcher tries to impede you at the booth, take his photo on your cellphone and call the FBI.” Seriously? “Just got a reminder phone call from the Warren campaign (a real human, not a recording) that voting is tomorrow. Apparently, Democrats in MA have been getting calls telling them that because of the storm, voting has been moved to Wednesday. I wish I could say I was surprised.” Wha?
Information, conjecture and alarmism all wash over my brain like a tide of something or other. Surely everything will become clear later. This is what I’m banking on.
8.17am I wish my intrepid colleague Patrick J Sauer luck in his attempt to hit all five boroughs today, and lament the shit luck that has prevented me from accompanying him. I remain fully aware of the vanishing insignificance of any bad luck I have at this time and in this place, of course.
V calls me from the queue. She says it goes all around the block. This part of Brooklyn was fine during Sandy, didn’t lose power – there are just a few trees down and one leaning perilously over a street by a church. But as Patrick is no doubt going to observe, there are plenty of places in New York where people are going to find it much more difficult to vote, maybe aren’t even thinking about it, since their lives have been flooded out.
8.33am Feeling homesick as well as sick-sick, I fire up the BBC site. A jolly sampler of electiony snippets starts to run. It’s awfully jovial and English. “The video made him look rich, callous and out of touch, and for a moment, it seemed that he was finished! But then...”
8.40am I’ve got to hand it to the Republicans – they can knock out an on-the-nose country protest song at the drop of a ten-gallon hat. “Can’t you see? Can’t you see? What Obama been doin’ to me...”
9.10am Vox pops. “It’s been incredibly insufferable, all they’ve done is yell at each other. I think everyone’s just really looking forward to it being over.”
9.17am Maybe if I just spend five minutes groaning softly to myself?
9.23am The two cats are scampering about, staring out of the window at sparrows, ripping fuck out of their scratching post and swiping at each other with gay abandon. Loris, the more measured and reasonable of the two, is clearly a Democrat. Spider, a big bastard prone to outbursts of irrational violent rage, is a Tea Partier if ever I saw one.
9.37am V has voted. She was in line for maybe an hour and a half. “It’s insane.” There was free coffee. Long may this continue. At least today is just cold, rather than stormy. That’s tomorrow, when this nor’easter rolls in and really helps all the New Yorkers who aren’t quite sufficiently beleauguered at this point.
10.03am Word from my cousin in Utah, who was out volunteering for Obama at the weekend in Grand Junction, Colorado. “Utah is a lost cause, so I always go to Colorado to volunteer. Saturday a guy threatened me. I came into the guy’s driveway coming around a cul-de-sac counter clockwise. I had a woman’s name for the house. I knocked, got no answer, and was standing fiddling with the info I was going to leave on the door, when the door flung open and this compact muscled guy, thirty-something, came out in a rush past me. He said—he ordered— ‘Follow me.’
“I followed him out to the other side of the drive, which I hadn’t seen. He said, ‘See that sign, you motherfucker?’ There was a ‘No Trespassing’ sign. I said, ‘No, I came the other way.’ And as he retreated to the door, radiating anger and expletives, he threatened to go get his rifles if I approached his house again. I didn’t say another word, didn’t look at him, and did my best to look like a timid old man!
The guy was so angry and so full of hate, he could do anything. I didn’t encounter anyone else like that, thankfully.”
10.12am Amusing London friends on Twitter. “I just realised I forgot to register to vote in the election. If Mitt Romney becomes Prime Minister, it's all my fault.”
10.17am More from Utah. “I had an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home all set to be picked up on Tuesday to vote for Barack—until the administrators convinced me that not only does she not know who is president, she wouldn’t remember what she was supposed to do. And her family didn’t want a random volunteer picking her up.”
Surely the demented are a rich source of votes for the unscrupulous volunteer. I bet as soon as you left she was wheeled away to a polling station by sinister shadow-hands. These people will stop at nothing.
“Yesterday my triumph was finding a disabled young woman who wanted to vote for Barack but needed a ride to the polls on Tuesday. I could arrange that. Hooray!”
10.32am Too weak to bat Spider away as he sits on my poorly pummelled body and gazes psychotically into my face. I must have meds. What are these little yellow things? Yellow is good.
10.44am Shut up, BBC. Let’s look at C-Span. Obama giving it loads in Des Moines, his final campaign rally. “Are ya fired up? Are ya fired up? I love you. Let’s go vote.” He is charming and he is benign.
It surely is a bummer not being able to get involved. If I had a vote (and maybe one day I will – I must look into that) then I’d be slithering down from the sixth floor right now, germs be damned.
11am Oooooooh those fairy lights are very pretty.
11.20am “Thank you to Kid Rock, that was fabulous. Let me introduce you to the next First Lady, Ann Romney.”
11.21am Ohhhh shit.
11.24am I need to type very, very quietly. Something is in the room. It’s too big and too hellbent on rolling back the reproductive rights of American women to be a cat. It’s right here. It’s looking at me.