I am babysitting my "Aggies for Obama" sign in the front yard.
It is glorious. Beautiful maroon and white. When I came back from dropping off The Redhead at school, I smiled when I saw it. It made me happy.
It is so pretty - the white lettering on the maroon background, "Aggies" in script font, the rest in block lettering.
I am worried someone might vandalize it or steal it. Crush it, perhaps - and leave it destroyed.
"That'll teach 'em!" they'll say as they dust off their hands and get back into their F150 crew cab with their "NOBAMA" bumper sticker.
As I put the boys to bed the first night the sign was displayed, I assured them that Yellow Dog would bark at any mischief in the front yard, but that if they heard anything, they should just run to my room and get me.
That scared them a little. "Can she just sleep in here?" Thing 1 asked.
"It's probably better if she's on the couch," I said. I wanted her as close as possible to the front door.
"Why?" Thing 1 asked.
And I realized I hadn't explained it to him yet. I sometimes forget, in our household of three boys, to whom I've talked. It is a confusing place. I had explained to The Redhead and Thing 2 that I had ordered a political sign, that I'd had to design it and have it custom made. I wanted something unique that reflected my individual political views, but that also identified me as part of a larger group.
So I told him that people might try to steal our sign or vandalize it or maybe even drive by and yell or throw something.
"Why?' he asked again.
Cause people are fuckin' stupid.
Can't say that.
"Because some people hate Obama - our president - so much that they can't control themselves. They have issues."
The boy still looked worried. Less so when he saw Yellow Dog settle in to the crook of the couch for the night - steps from his bedroom door, but even less steps from the front door.
As I was explaining the potential for people to act crazy, I questioned my own sanity. "If anything bad happens, I'll take the sign down," I added for reassurance. But then what was the point? The assholes have won. I even thought about removing it every night, re-staking it every day. No one would do anything in broad daylight, right?
The night passed uneventfully. And so did the next. And the next.
But I'm spending more time on the front porch - watching. Like when I first put it up and brought Yellow Dog out with me and drank a beer in the swing. I want people to be tickled by it. I want someone to honk "Hullabaloo, Caneck Caneck!" (the first notes of the Aggie War Hymn) in solidarity. That's what I would do. I might even pull over and want to shake the hand of someone so clever. A kindred spirit.
And if you don't get chills watchin' that? You're dead inside.
A cat hopped up on the porch with me that first night.
"Meow," she said. But what she meant was, "I like your sign. Gig 'em!" And then she was gone.
A scaredy cat. Bold. Only, not so much.
Is that what I am? A scaredy cat?
I tell myself soothing things. Have faith in people. Trust that you live in a good neighborhood. And by good, I mean diverse and tolerant. There are two other Obama signs a few blocks away. They have not been mangled or stolen, as far as I know. They are dueling with a couple of Romney/Ryan signs. Every time I drive down the street, I smile. I like to think they're all friends - these neighbors with differing political views.
I am the first on our street to put up a presidential political sign. In the last local election, there were a few - all for Republicans. And I have heard the political opinions of the neighbors at various potlucks and impromptu block parties where the wine and beer are flowing. "Anyone but Obama" is the majority mantra. Seriously. So I usually just keep quiet. Keep the peace.
My earliest memory of politics is when my parents returned from voting for the president in 1980. Carter - the Democratic incumbent - versus Reagan, the Republican challenger. I was ten years old. I knew they had gone to vote and so when they came home I asked, "Who did you vote for?" I was excited. All I had voted for up to that point was my favorite flavor of ice cream or where to go on vacation.
I remember my father chuckling and sitting down at the kitchen table and explaining to me that it was not polite to ask someone how they voted. He issued edicts like that occasionally. You do not ask a farmer how many acres he owns nor a rancher how many head of cattle he has. And if someone was (gasp!) rude enough to ask such things of you, your reply might simply be, "A few."
So when I asked how he and my mother voted he replied, "We voted for the best man for the job." Of course, since he was also using the moment to teach me something and not to hide anything from me, he also told me that my mother and he were independents and that last time they'd voted for Carter, but this time they voted for Reagan.
Some of that lesson has stuck with me. I do not ask people how they vote. Ever. And I have never put a political sign of any kind in my yard nor a bumper sticker on my car. I consider voting a private affair.
Until now. There is just something about feeling like a minority voter that makes me want to speak out. I don't like people assuming that I am a Republican. I get the creepy feeling they're doing so because of the color of my skin. And because I'm a fifth generation native Texan. And because I went to Texas A&M. An "Aggies for Obama" sign is kinda like a "Mormons for Obama" sign. Texas A&M is home to the George Bush Presidential Library, for goodness sake!
And that's why I did it. I want people to think twice when they see it. I want it to challenge their stereotypes. A friend of mine responded to the sign like this, "Way to make people feel conflicted about their interests!"
And I am happy to report that the sign remains in our yard, unmolested. The pizza delivery guy who came to our house Friday night shyly admitted, "I love your sign," as he handed over our order. "I hope it's still here when I drive by next time."
So do I.
Gig 'em. WHOOP!