Do Unto Others


Here we are on the backside of another presidential election. Florida has overcome its quadrennial bout of dyscalculia, the rest of the world has breathed a heavy sigh of relief that we didn’t screw it up this time, and sadly my plans to make millions selling Oven Mitt Romneys has come to an end.

This was the first election I’d ever spent abroad, and I must admit I longed to be part of that special cone of crazy that descends on my homeland when the electoral machine starts well and truly churning. While national politics are always exciting, it’s the more nuanced politics of the small Southern towns that I missed the most.

This land of big fish, small ponds, and long memories is where things really get interesting.

I’ve had a terrible phobia of snakes since I was a little girl (those of the serpentine persuasion, I should add in this context). I can’t even look at them – not in real life, not on TV, not in print – and I’ll never forget the day it happened.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon on the day of a homecoming fish fry at the First Baptist Church. At six years of age, I had a new red dress and not a care in the world. I was happily playing outside under the oak trees with the other kids, when one of the high school boys suddenly came over and unceremoniously picked me up. Before I knew it, I was being dangled over a snake to the laughter of his friends.

I had just enough wits about to me to assess that, yes, it indeed had a pointy-head, and therefore, it was good I had asked Jesus to forgive me for calling my sister a stupid head in Sunday School that morning. Through the acceptance of my imminent demise and subsequent concern for my salvation, I also failed to notice it was plastic.

When he eventually put down the screaming, wriggling mess that I’d become, I adjusted my dress, mumbled some 6-year-old version of “Not cool, bro,” and promptly ran crying to my mother that the big boys were trying to kill me.

Fast-forward a couple decades. I’m standing in the ballot box at the polling station across the street from that First Baptist Church and Snake Boy is all grown up and running for election. The tables had turned and I now wielded the strength of my vote. All those little scantron bubbles looked a lot like snake eyes to me, and my inner six-year-old was all, “So, how do you like me now, sucka?”

I’m not going to say it stopped me from voting for him, that would have been a bit too petty, but I certainly thought twice about it. In the South, our golden rule really should be: Do unto others as you would have them vote for you.

Image credit: David Shankbone