I ran for president. Back in the day.
This is going way back. All the way back to my senior year in high school at Livonia Stevenson.
We were new in town, my sister and I. We had just moved across the border from Windsor, Ontario to the Detroit side for the sole purpose of saving on college tuition. My brother was a freshman in college, and the one hour move across the river cut tuition costs in half. My parents were good financial planners.
Strange thing was, I didn’t mind the move, even though I left several great friendships on the Canuck side. I liked the idea of starting over. Clean slate. No one knew me. I could recreate my image, my reputation, and my personality if I really tried. In the end, I couldn’t help but be me, and that was that. But change was something I welcomed in my wonder years.
In Canada, most kids still attended high school for five years, and when we moved to the States, this marked my fourth year already, but I had so many courses to fulfill all the requirements, that my dad convinced the guidance counselor to give me an extra year, just like I’d have had in Windsor.
So, during my “second” senior year, the buzz of class elections began from day one of the school year. Everyone talked about “Carla!” The girl who ran for school president last year and won. She was going for a second term. And no one would stand up against her. She was a sure win if no one ran against her. And so, me, a nobody transfer student from across the border decided to take up the challenge. Simply for the fact that I didn’t want her to win by default. My ambition was to give the people a choice, so I put my name on the ballot and began my pursuit for the title of school president. Yes I did.
At this point, I had about five friends in the school. I was essentially a faceless candidate since no one knew me. Well, except those five friends, of course. But this was all about to change. From “Raj-who?” to “Raj! The girl that challenged the status quo!”
The night before banners were officially allowed up on hallway walls, I spent all evening trying to come up with a campaign logo that would wow the voters. After a night of brainstorming, I settled on this:
“To Be Wild is to Be Content!”
Yup. And for this Indian-American girl with fairly strict parents, my definition of “wild” was clearly limited. I just liked the way it sounded. So I went with it!
I even had a tank top made with the felt letters spelling out my logo on the back. Then it was time to make the posters. For some reason, Opus appealed to me. Maybe because he was one character that didn’t require major skills to sketch. So each of my posters said something like “Be Wild! Vote for Raj!” Or “Take a walk on the Wild Side with Raj!” because…
“To Be Wild is to Be Content!” and Opus peeked around the corners of each poster. Maybe I wanted Opus to discover his wild side? Who knew?
I genuinely enjoyed campaigning. I liked writing speeches. Painting posters sure beat conjugating Spanish verbs. It was fun to get the double take in the hallways. “That’s her. The girl running against Carla!”
As the big day drew near, things got awkward. Carla befriended me. She wasn’t at all the vicious opponent I had built her up to be in my mind. She was a really nice gal. Short, cute and even fun. She wished me luck on election day, and sealed her words with a smile. We became friends.
And all of a sudden I got nervous. All along, the campaign to me, was really a joke. I had no plans of winning. I simply wanted to give the people a choice. Students, I mean. I just wanted two names on the ballot. And now the day was here, and my name was next to Carla’s on the line that read, “Pick One for President.”
And I can’t lie. I voted for myself. Because I knew they announced the count, and I was now worried that it would be a landslide of a loss with Carla winning 495 to 5. Those would be my five friends that voted for me. I was about to make it 494 to 6. That’s right. Every vote counts.
In the end, I snagged about 200 votes, but Carla still came out on top. As the polls predicted, the people were not ready for a change. And the people had spoken. With their votes.
Post campaign blues set in. I felt a little sad taking down all the campaign relic. Saying goodbye to Opus. Tossing the buttons in a drawer. [Kidding. I never had buttons made.] But I have to admit, I loved that t-shirt. I still wore it all the time. Just around my house, of course.
And when I graduated that June, I was voted “Most Likely to be Wild and Content.” Not really, but wouldn’t that have been cool. I was actually voted “Class Clown” along with a guy whose name I forgot. Not exactly sure how I snagged that one. Have to find the yearbook, dust it off, and look up some names after I publish this blog about life back in the day.
So there you have it. A bloggity blast from the past—of my Presidential Pursuits. Never ran for president again. And I’m pretty sure I don’t plan to in the future.
But in two weeks, I plan to vote. How about you?
**Ever run for office? Have you been watching the debates? Do you wish Batman was on the ballot?