When they asked me to speak at the convention, they told me I should tell a story about the candidate. It should be something with real emotion, the candidate’s campaign manager said as we stood at my front door, the limousine parked with its engine running in my driveway. It should be something that would humanize the candidate.
I blinked and tried to think of something. “It would be a lot easier,” I said, “if the candidate were a human.”
“Ha ha,” the manager said. “You’re only the … (pausing while flipping through a small notebook) eighth person today to tell me that.”
The limousine driver honked. The manager raised a finger toward the car and told me, “You’ll go on the middle of the second night, with other old friends.”
“Who else?” I asked.
The limousine driver honked. The manager looked over, and a back window in the car rolled down a tiny crack, enough to shoot a look at the manager.
I knew that eye. “Oh, hey!” I waved. The window rolled up.
The manager began to turn. “We’ll be in touch. Think of a story.”
I watched the limousine pull away, my mind a blank. A story with real emotion.
I went inside. My wife was waiting in the kitchen. “What was that about?” she said.
“I’ve been asked to speak at the convention.”
“Won’t that get you in trouble at work? What will your boss say?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t see how I could turn it down.”
She poured me a cup of coffee. “What are you supposed to talk about?”
“I’m supposed to tell a story with real emotion that would humanize the candidate.”
She looked at me blankly, then crossed her arms. “That would be easier if you were talking about a human.”
“Yeah.” I sat down with my coffee.
She looked concerned and brushed my arm. “Do you have a story?”
I thought and thought about it. I thought all day, and when I went to bed that night I stared at the ceiling thinking. That’s when I thought of something. I got up, went to my laptop and wrote the whole thing down, with much more detail than I thought would be needed in a speech, but I wanted to be sure I got everything down.
A couple of days later the manager called to check on my progress, and I said I had a story that I thought would do a lot to humanize the candidate. I told the whole thing.
Silence on the phone.
“Hello?” I said.
“That’s a terrible story.”
“Why is that a terrible story?” I asked.
“You end up bleeding all over a police officer. It sounds like a testimonial for the police officer.”
“But it’s very emotional.”
“Only because you’re crying almost the whole time.”
“Nevermind. We’re running out of time anyway, so we won’t need you. Thanks very much for your efforts, though. We need your vote.”
And that was that.
I really should call to check on that police officer again. She was so kind.