Nonvoters

Who are the nonvoters? In the recent Presidential election, 59.9 percent of the eligible voters turned out. What about the other 40.1 percent? Extensive surveys of Americans by the Gosman Report show that this group includes:

People who like Bush, but not enough to vote for him.

People who like Kerry, but not enough to vote for him.

People who believe voting is bad luck.

Fanatical nudists.

People who oppose democracy for religious reasons.

People who hate to miss any TV show.

Fishermen lost at sea.

Scientists working 24 hours a day to cure AIDS.

Pimps, and others “too cool” to vote.

People who were traumatized by Halloween.

The extremely absent-minded.

People who decided to have “one little drink” on the way to the polls.

Spies.

Mathematicians who understand that the probability of their vote counting is 1 in 59,000,000.

People who feel voting is “not athletic enough.”

People whose trust fund stipulates that they do not vote.

Third-generation anarchists.

People who refuse to engage in any organized activity on a Tuesday.

People who believe voting “steals your soul.”

People who can’t decide what to wear to vote.

People who believe the Founding Fathers were idiots.

People who are waiting for “drive-thru” voting.

People who feel worthless if their candidate loses.

People who feel guilty if their candidate wins.

People who don’t realize the Socialist Workers Party is on the ballot.

People who sleep from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

Astrologers who find the day inauspicious.

People who find voting too “European.”

People who feel voting violates Chaos Theory.

People who believe voting is a bad example for their children.

Youths who believe one must be 35 to vote.

Psychics who already know who will win.

People who are too fat to vote.

-Sparrow

Mauro of Manhattan

Don’t ever go on holidays in Italy with an Upper East Side girl. She could turn even Venice into a nightmare.

It began already with the limo ride here in New York City. I had it pick Marsha up at her apartment, then come to get me at my workplace (Rizzoli on 57th Street) before heading towards J.F.K. The car was 15 minutes late. She blamed me. She got mad not only for the lateness, but also because she couldn’t scream at my cell, complaining. I had left my American cell at home, as it doesn’t work in Italy.

“Means you’ll never be reachable during the next week?”

“No. But who cares? We’ll be together, just the two of us. Nobody will disturb us. It’s holiday. No stress.”

Romantic. I didn’t know the stress was just about to begin.

“I really don’t need this,” she grumbled furiously in the midtown tunnel, “we’re so late, we’ll never make the flight.”

“Come on, your plane is going to take off in two hours and a half. Trust me.”

She didn’t. We were flying separately. In order to spend her bonus miles she had booked an American Airlines flight, even if that meant to endure a stopover in Zurich before landing in Milan. I stuck to my usual direct Alitalia flight: “You’ll probably get first class if you come with me, they often upgrade journalists,” I tried to lure her. No way: All she cared were her AA miles, at the cost of traveling alone.

“Could you please get out of the expressway and try the local street, it’s faster,” she told the driver nervously. Marsha loved to backseat drive professional drivers. She would have taxis make long detours on the West Side or on F.D.R. driveways in the illusion to avoid traffic. We usually ended up paying more and arriving later. But I wasn’t able to convince her. The only way to scientifically prove it would have been to get on different taxis at the same location and time, heading separately for the same destination (her Upper East or my Upper West home). But I’m sure she would have gone to great lengths to win the bet, even faking her taxi receipt.

Marsha doesn’t like to lose, never: “Losing is for losers,” she once taught me.

Two hours before her departure time we were slowly moving on Van Wyck Boulevard. “I’m calling the airline,” she snorted.

“The deadline for check-in is one hour before departure,” I tried to reassured her.

“That’s for domestic flights.”

“Trust me.”

She didn’t. In order to make that clear, she distanced herself polemically from me in the back of the limo. She dialed a number on her cell. But it was not the airline: “Mummy, we’re still stuck in the traffic, we’ll never make it.”

Her mother, living in Manhattan a few (too few) blocks from her, was going to be the third cumbersome participant in our love trip. ” Lo, mammeta e tu ” (“Me, your mother and you”), goes a famous Neapolitan song from the 50’s by Renato Carosone and Domenico Modugno. I had to come to New York City to experience that.

Of course Mummy didn’t know a damn about aviation deadlines. But in just a few seconds she managed to instill more anxiety in her little baby with just five words: “After 9/11, you know …. “

Sept. 11. Marsha hadn’t thought about that when she accepted my invitation to Italy. But now everything became clear in her mind: We were going to be killed by terrorists. Where, when, how and especially why she didn’t know. But she knew we would. Sooner or later.

“There are terrorists in Italy, aren’t there?”

“There were, until 20 years ago.”

“And now?”

“Gone. Killed, repented, bought. They were defeated, baby. Don’t worry. The police won.”

“But there are Arabs and Muslims in Italy, aren’t there …. “

“The terrorists in Italy were communist and fascist.”

“You still have those ones. You once told me they even went to government.”

“Yes, the former fascists are now in charge. But the terrorists were fascist and communist extremists …. It’s all over, that was in the 70’s. Trust me.”

She didn’t. When we arrived at the terminal, I had to find a trolley for her impressive luggage (three bags, two very big). We rushed to the check-in. They made her pay more for the extra luggage. She protested. She wanted to call her mother again, but it was too late for getting her involved. I left Marsha at the security control. I saw her in the distance, arguing with the guards after the third time she made the alarm bleep. She finally consented to take off her shoes.

The next morning we met at the Milan airport. We took a bus to the train station. I showed her what I thought were the best seats, but she refused them and said: “Why do you always want to tell me what to do?”

“I don’t know, I was sure you liked to stay by the window.”

“Don’t be so patronizing …. “

“What are you talking about?”

“You always want to be in control.”

” Vaffanculo .”

“What did you say?”

” Vaffanculo .”

“What does it mean?”

“Nothing. Forget it.”

“I know what it means: fuck yourself, right?”

“Listen, Marsha: I haven’t slept a wink on the plane, I am a little nervous, just leave me alone.”

“I hate buses, anyway. Just wanted to let you know.”

We rented a car. Made peace and kissed, the sun was shining, everything was fine. So I ventured a joke. While crossing the lake of Como on a ferry I showed her the Bellagio hill right between the legs of the lake: “You know how it’s called?”

“Tell me, dear.”

“The clitoris of the lake.”

Icy silence. Disaster. She didn’t talk for a good hour.

I tried to end it: “Why do you play the passive-aggressive? It was just a pun.”

“That was gross. Totally inappropriate, Mauro, let me tell you.”

Talking about sex is taboo with Marsha. Which destroyed the favorite topic of conversation among us Italians. But Marsha encountered major problems also with the Italian state TV. Arriving in our first hotel room after midnight, I took off my glasses and turned the TV on. Couldn’t see a thing, but the music by Zucchero was fantastic. “Welcome to Italy!” I shouted in a burst of joy.

She looked at me with disgusted eyes. I put my glasses back on: The usual erotic nightly advertisement was being broadcast. But she couldn’t stand even the soap operas: “Are you watching porn?” she asked me once at 9 p.m., raising her beautiful eyebrows. She failed to make me feel guilty: “Hey,” I said, “this is Incantesimo , prime-time TV for families, even my mother watches it.”

“Yes, but can’t you see?”

“They are making love.”

“But she …. “

” … has her tits out? So what?”

“Oh my God”.

That Italy was a land of perverts she got convinced when, in a seaside resort near Trieste, she asked for a treadmill.

“I need to exercise.”

“Have a jog, Marsha.”

“It’s too hot outside.”

“Jog early in the morning, or at sunset.”

“I can’t. I really need a treadmill, that’s my best way to relax. I also have another problem: haven’t been to the toilet since we arrived. That’s because I can’t exercise. Won’t you find me a treadmill, Mauro?” she begged, with her irresistible sweet cat’s eyes.

“There is none here, trust me.”

She didn’t. We went asking around the whole town for a treadmill. Everybody treated us as weirdoes: “You’ve got the whole beach for running, miss!”

No treadmill. And the constipation was days and days old by now. “You are full of shit, honey,” I joked her.

“You’re not funny.” She wouldn’t make love because of her intestine malaise. I picked on her: “You always find an excuse not to. Come on, practice sex as a substitute for exercise. In New York you always do the contrary, after all: Every morning you run out to jog instead than cuddling with me …. “

“You’re so rude.”

At night she would lie desperately on her belly in bed. That’s her usual sleeping position: “Otherwise my ass spreads out.”

Let me explain: Marsha, a former model, is a perfectly shaped 30-years-old. If she has a problem, it’s that she’s too skinny. But getting fat is her constant worry.

“Get a laxative,” I obviously suggested over and over. After feverish and endless transcontinental phone consultations with her mother, she finally agreed. But she took two pills instead of one, so the night we went to the best club on the coast she was devastated by diarrhea. I had never seen such an attractive body and face shaken by opposite disgraces (plus vomiting) within the same week. She even forgot about terrorists because of her condition.

“Too bad we can’t visit Venice tomorrow,” I told her two days before departure, “as you haven’t recovered yet.”

“No point in going there anyway,” she said. “On Mondays shops are all closed in Italy.”

-Mauro Suttora

Nonvoters