A Little Competition

A Fool In NH Column Heading

In case you missed it – and I can’t imagine anyone who did – the latest debate with the candidates from The Flatlander Party was a real doozy.
There hasn’t been a debate for the past ten years since I’ve been the only candidate who has run, so it was a surprise when I got the call that someone else had jumped into the race.
This gentleman – and I use the term lightly – is originally from New Jersey and only moved here two years ago. We met briefly last year at the local supermarket when our shopping carts collided as we both arrived at the entrance to the fourteen items or less checkout at the same exact time.
With our carts locked like the horns of two battling rams neither one of us was about to concede our place in line to the other.
For me, this was a long ago ingrained trait that I had learned to let go of over the past thirty years I have lived in New Hampshire. Still, it was that look in his eye the second after the incident that brought back something in me that I hadn’t felt in years.
In New York, and I’m sure Jersey as well, it was known as Aisle Anger, where one would be unrelenting at giving up their space at the supermarket, even to let one pass and would go to strange lengths to stake their claim. Some incidents of aisle anger were front page stories in the tabloids.
There was never a more crucial moment than when arriving at the checkout. It often became a high speed race when spying another about to arrive at the same time; every second and movement counted in making sure that you arrived first.
When I first moved here I took me awhile to rid myself of this dangerous habit, but over the years I finally came to realize that it didn’t matter much. In fact, I’ve learned to graciously stop to let those arriving at the same time as me go first. It feels good.
Still something overcame me as we clashed that afternoon. As I said the look in his eye. The look of the new transplant to New Hampshire who had a lot of baggage to get rid of.
I couldn’t just be gracious and let him ahead of me; it was too early for him to understand that lesson yet. I would have to win this battle for now and let him come to this revelation on his own over time.
I stared him down, some old traits are never forgotten, and he finally relented but keeping his cart as close to my back as he could while I moved my items on to the conveyor.
As the cashier scanned my items she looked up and said: “I know you, you are that Flatlander guy running for governor.”
I acknowledged, gave a glance back to my nemesis, grabbed my bags and left.
I forgot about the incident soon after, it is easy to do that around here. It was only a few days later when I received word that I had competition for the nomination.
Guess who?
People get into politics for different reasons. Some do it for the power, some, like myself, for the salary, one or two have even been known to get in because they truly want to help people. My competitor seems to have entered the race for spite.
So, the table was set and our first debate took place last week at a local grange and was broadcast across the state through local public access channels.
The rules for the debate were standard as in most debates. Time limits for answers and rebuttals would be set but didn’t have to be followed. Moderators were not to ask questions about pertinent and important issues that affected the everyday lives of citizens but would instead ask questions about things the candidates had said about each other in order to create a hostile environment with lots of yelling.
I don’t have time to get into all that was brought up during the debate, but I can tell you it was a raucous back and forth of name calling and innuendos. (My opponent did strike a nerve when he reminded me that one of my favorite New York teams actually played in Jersey.)
If you missed it, it will be replayed over and over early in the morning on your local public access channel as filler for the next few weeks. The audio is a little rough at times (think televised selectman’s meeting) but I think I made my case for why I would be the best candidate. I also outshone him in the spelling section as I whipped through Winnipesaukee and Kancamagus effortlessly.
He isn’t about to give up though and I think I am in for a bumpy ride this election cycle.

Brendan Is the author of “The Flatlander Chronicles” and “Best Of A F.O.O.L In New Hampshire” available at www.BrendanTSmith.com