I Am An Undecided Voter

I have never revealed my political beliefs online. My stance on this issue or that. I’m not going to do that here, either. But I am going to talk about my stance on elections.

I remember as a kid being on a bus full of kids all chanting “Nixon! Nixon! Nixon!” before the election when Nixon beat McGovern. Kids just parroted their parents’ support and very few parents in that Indiana town, or anywhere in the country for that matter, supported McGovern.

A couple years later, I was glued to the TV, watching hours and hours of Watergate hearings. I watched Nixon give his resignation speech. I watched as a man who wasn’t even elected as Vice President get sworn in as President. 

Welcome to politics. When I turned 18 I registered. As an independent. I’ve been a registered independent ever since. And I have voted in every presidential election since.

And here is why I am undecided: I choose to do it this way. I ignore the politics. I have spent the last few months blissfully uncaring about tax returns and birth certificates and binders full of women and horses and bayonets.

Sound apathetic? Hardly. I take the election seriously. I voted on the Palm Beach County butterfly ballot. I am aware of how important my vote is. I just ignore the politics.

Here’s what I’m going to do. Sometime before election day I’m going to sit down with an open mind and look at how all (not both) the candidates stand on the issues. And I’m going to weigh how important those issues are that I either agree or disagree with. For instance, if something is a state issue or a Supreme Court issue it won’t affect my decision as much as an issue that will directly affect me, my family, my friends or my job (which is directly affected by election results.) Then I will do the same thing with all the other races on the ballot. And I will decide based on that, and I will vote. It’s the way I did it four years ago and eight years ago and it’s the way I’ll do it four years from now.

This is the time in every election cycle where people on both sides of the political fence will mock undecided voters. I assure you, I am neither “brain dead” nor “clueless.” This is the kind of arrogance that makes me ignore the politics and wait until the election nears to even think about it. Thankfully you can’t tell me when to decide any more than you can tell me who to vote for. I’m not undecided because I’m confused. I’m undecided because I haven’t thought about it yet.

So, at some point I’ll realize the election is near and I’ll think about things as an independent voter, and I’ll decide and I’ll vote.

America. Hell yes.

I’m Jim Reams, and I endorse this message.

The Luckiest Guy in Town

I have earned a reputation around town as being a bit of a skirt-chasing, womanizing scoundrel. In fact, I haven’t just earned it, I’ve cultivated it, especially on Twitter. I’ve heard tales of women being “warned” about me, which amuses me to no end. The fact is, nothing could be further from the truth. I love women. I’m respectful and particular in my own way, not one to collect women as though it were some kind of sport. 

During this encore edition of bachelorhood over the last ten years, I’ve had my fair share of encounters with women quite a bit younger than me. In fact, almost all the women I’ve dated within the last few years have been between 29 and 34. This is due to a variety of reasons, including the fact that that is the age where many first marriages fail, and they come back on the market. And yes, I know what you’re thinking, it is partly due to the fact that hot young women are hot. Guilty as charged. Just don’t call it a mid-life crisis.

About ten in the morning, my friend popped up on Google Chat, which is not unusual. But this time was different. The message simply read “Did you hear about Kate?” I thought maybe it was a mistake, maybe the wrong news was going around. I went to her facebook page, and there were three or four posts on her wall, all vague, things like “Thinking of you right now.” That was not a good sign.

I met Kate six or seven years ago. We hit it off immediately because what’s not to like? She’s young, beautiful, intelligent, witty, charming, fun-loving and a general blast to be around. Early on, before I ever met him, I found out she was married, very happily married, to a guy who was older than me. I thought to myself, “I don’t know who that Karsten dude is, but he’s the luckiest guy in town.” 

Eventually I met Karsten and gradually got to know him. The first few times around him I kept going back the the same thought, about how lucky he was.

This was my first experience with the death of a friend in the social media era. I didn’t want to be the one spreading the news all over, it seemed gossipy. I did tell Brittney. I don’t know why, but I wanted her to hear it from me. I went to Kate’s facebook wall. At a time like this, I wanted her to know that she was loved. No, I wanted her to know that I love her. I wrote, “I love you, Kate” on her wall. It didn’t look right, somehow just too personal for a wall post. I deleted the word “I” and posted it. “Love you, Kate.” That didn’t look right either, too Hallmarky, but there it was. Still, I needed to tell her with my own voice.

My first attempt at a May/September romance involved a night at City House in Germantown. At the end of the evening there was an impromptu party of four at Kate and Karsten’s house. I sat holding hands on one couch with the pretty young new girl in town, and Kate and Karsten sat opposite us in the same position. And it dawned on me that my “young” girl was the same age as Kate. And there sat Karsten, older than me, obviously adored by his wife. 

At that moment, I realized he wasn’t lucky at all. Contrary to the popular saying, I’d rather be good than lucky, and clearly the man was good. Real good. You don’t keep a woman like Kate head-over-heels in love with you for over a decade without having some serious game. To say he was lucky suddenly seemed insulting.

Honestly, I didn’t want to go to the gathering, but I needed to. She arrived while I was downstairs catching up with old friends. She was radiant and elegant in her blue dress, working the room person by person, exchanging hugs and words of thanks. She didn’t see me and she disappeared. Later I went upstairs and she was in the center of the room, talking to someone I didn’t recognize. I ordered a Bulleit and stood by. Finally, she saw me, excused herself, glided over and wrapped her arms around me. “I love you, Kate.” She squeezed a little tighter and responded. I don’t remember what her response was. It didn’t matter. I’m sure her week has been full of people saying those four words to her. I’m sure it wasn’t a big deal to her. It wasn’t meant to be a big deal to her. It was a big deal to me.

Much has been written about Karsten’s ability to engage people in probing, inquisitive, deeply thoughtful conversations. I experienced this one time, at a party. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it was an intense conversation about why I like to watch golf on TV. He kept coming up with questions that made me think about that particular activity in ways I had never thought of it before. By the time we finished, I felt like I had validated my existence, not to him but to myself, over a conversation about a subject as mundane as golf. It was impactful and memorable. He was able to engage me in a 20 minute conversation that was hardly about him and almost totally about me. 

I sat down to write a few words about Kartsen. What I have here is hardly about him and almost totally about me. Well played, Karsten. Very well played.