Good Narrative Principles

Best for the People


When people at work asked me if I was planning on coming in today I understood where they were coming from, but honestly, it never occurred to me to skip out on work just because I was running for Mayor and today is the big day. It would feel like cutting high school. Which I did once or twice when egged on by my buddies and both times (OK I remember now it was exactly twice) I was caught. Once by the sleeve of my coat. I was last one out. The door was swinging closed. Just before I was clear, a guard nabbed me.

It was understood that I wouldn’t rat out my friends even when pressed by the Principal. But the chair I was forced to sit in was hard. And I never did have much buttock fat to cushion me. Not that I’m offering that up as my excuse, but…but… the Principal kept on going on and on about my college application and how much was at stake seeing as how it was my Junior year. So I caved.

It’s not the proudest moment of my life, particularly since the High School Principal was one of the first people I knew who used Grecian Hair Formula for Men. As I sat across from him, I studied his receding hairline with the smugness that only a sixteen year old can muster. Poor guy has to dye his hair, I was probably thinking as he prattled on about my diminished chances of going to a great college if this “incident” became part of my “permanent record card”.


Looking back on that moment I now realize that his authority and the office he represented shrank to insignificance because of his fraying vanity. Will I do the same as Mayor, assuming today goes as planned? Will I yield my authority lightly, gracefully and with wisdom? Or will I unknowingly negate it with a smile marred by a shred of spinach logged between my two front teeth.

And more to the point, who among my fellow elected officers will alert me to the stray spinach? Who can I trust? Who has my back?

Here is the sad truth — no one. Not a soul. Everyone has their own agenda and in my capacity as Mayor I am merely the gatekeeper, the final yea or nah that will either say yes to this project and it’s attendant wealth or not.

And what do I get out of it? The last mayor is now fighting lymphoma. Clearly his health took a downward spiral, probably as a result of the stress he washed down with his nightly liter of Diet Coke. Is that what I’m signing up for? What about down time? Will I be able to follow my shows or will they stack up on Tivo unwatched. What about my wife? How many lonely nights at home will she tolerate before she too gets fed up with me and leaves. Then I’ll be alone just like our previous Mayor having to shuttle myself back and forth to the oncologist.

I ran on an anti-corruption platform. My image was a giant broom, the kind where the handle invariable comes loose as you sweep the fall leaves down the driveway. So I can’t exactly demand a kickback.

I won’t.

I refuse.

I would then become like the High School Principal, transparent, diminished. My yard stick will be what is best for the people. That will be my sole criteria. That’s a good line. I should include it in my acceptance speech.

Assuming I win.

I will.

I have to.

And as to the spinach logged in the teeth question, there’s always a mirror.

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