It’s sad when your happiness relies so heavily on one man. You wait for him to communicate, to give you something to go on. You’re looking for some reason to believe that the rest of your days won’t be bleak and filled with loss. Hearing nothing is terrible, but hearing the wrong thing is even worse. Yet still you wait, clinging to the hope that he will tell you what you want, no, what you need to hear.
I’m talking of course about Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com.
I trust him and him alone. He takes all of the polls, analyzes them and weights them according to accuracy, sample size, polling methods, and any sort of lean, whether it’s Republican or Democrat. Then he combines all the data, runs daily simulations, and posts the chances for an Obama or a Romney win, both statewide and nationally.
I check his site constantly. How’s it looking in
Are Obama’s chances still around 70%, or has he slipped? Are Ohio Virginia
light blue today, or have they turned pink overnight? How will he explain these
daily tracking polls that can’t possibly be right? Does he still believe that
Romney is experiencing a post-debate bounce? And please, please tell me that
the chances of an Electoral College tie are still below 1%, because I don’t
think I can’t take much more of this. Gallup
Because most likely, the people in my life can’t take much more of me.
Wednesday morning one of my students asked for an extension on her paper.
“Remind what it’s about again.”
“Umm,” she stammered, “the effects of terrorism on trade in the
Middle East. But
I’ve been trying to make it relevant, and with everything that’s going on…”
“You’re an undergrad,” I snapped. “No paper that you write is going to be relevant. And using unfortunate, recent events as a way to justify your procrastination is in really bad taste. I expect the paper to be done by Friday.”
She gasped. “This Friday? But the deadline isn’t until Monday.”
“For you it’s now Friday.”
And I didn’t even feel bad about it.
Later that day Jack called me. I was walking from my office to my car, and it was a cold, damp afternoon. I hurried through campus as I answered the phone.
“How’s Monty?” Jack asked. No hello, no asking me how I am. I tried not to take it personally.
“I don’t know. He’s still sleeping a lot, but he seems slightly better.”
“When’s he going back to work?”
“Probably next week.”
“Well, that’s good.”
Jack stopped talking just as I reached my car. I unlocked it and struggled to enterwhile holding this morning’s travel mug and my bag of papers, and with my phone pressed against my ear.
“Jack, is there something else you need? I’m about to drive home.”
“Look, I’m working on getting the money back to you.” He words came out in a rush of nerves. This is why you don’t loan people money.
“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “Monty’s not mad anymore. You can take your time.”
“Well,” he said with a sigh. “Thanks. And hey, I have some good news.”
“Jessie and I are engaged.”
My keys, which had been millimeters away from the ignition, slipped from my fingers and dropped to the floor of my car.
“Are you insane?” I demanded. “You’re not even divorced yet. You can’t be engaged. That’s…it’s craziness. No. No. I forbid you.”
Jack cleared his throat. “You forbid me? What, are you my mom now?”
“No. But I’ve been living with your mother for well over a month, so perhaps she’s rubbing off on me. You can’t do this Jack.”
He raised his voice, which is something he never does. “You don’t have the right to tell me that.”
“Oh yes I do!” I yelled into the phone. “I have every right!”
“Because you lent me money?”
I could feel my jaw clench with tension. “I didn’t mean it like that. But you’re making a mistake. Take some time. Think about Mikey. Think about yourself. Figure out who you are before you rush into another marriage.”
“I know who I am,” he said. “I just don’t know who you are right now.”
I couldn’t respond to that. It was cold, and I wanted to drive home. I wanted to turn on the heat, and the radio. Maybe NPR would have something about the campaign on. I reached down and fished for my keys. “I have to go,” I said.
“Bye,” said Jack. And he hung up with some definite aggression.
That night at dinner I kept quiet. Monty actually came down and sat with us at the table, and we all ate spaghetti and talked about our day.
Except for me. I sat silently and stewed, until Natalie started talking politics.
“It looks like Mitt Romney is going to win. Did you hear he’s ahead by seven points in the
I put my fork down with a clang. “Mitt Romney is not going to win.” I looked at her such hot hostility that I’m sort of surprised she didn’t ignite into flames. “Only idiots care about what
has to say. Besides, Obama is still
ahead in Gallup Ohio, and Romney needs to win. End of
“Well, I saw on Morning Joe that Romney is surging in the polls.” Natalie gave me a superior sort of look. “Isn’t MSNBC the liberal channel? Why would they say that if it wasn’t true?”
“Mom, Joe Scarborough used to be a Republican Congressman.” Monty coughed a little and took a bite of spaghetti.
“Well, I still don’t know why he would lie.”
I wanted to throw my plate of spaghetti in her face. “Because it’s all about spin! He’s spinning his side. That doesn’t make it true, or right! And the most infuriating part is that the spin becomes the story, like the tale wagging the dog. And shame on us all if we let that happen.”
“Why are you yelling, Mommy?” Abby asked me this with the sort of patience only a three-year-old could manage.
I exhaled and lowered my voice. “Sorry, Honey. I guess I’m just not hungry.” I got up and cleared my plate.
Monty met me in the kitchen. “What’s with you?”
I spun on him. “Your family is driving me crazy.” And I told him about my conversation with Jack, and some of what went down with his mother while he was gone, and it was all in a whispered rush. He squinted at me and tried to follow, but I don’t know how much he really took in.
“Did you actually tell Jack he was insane?”
“So what if I did? He’s is.”
“Yeah, but…” he shook his head. Then I heard Abby call from the kitchen.
“Daddy! You said you’d eat with us. You need to finish your pasghetti!”
“Go,” I said softly. And I went upstairs to watch MSNBC. In the evenings they actually have decent commentators on.
Later, after I put Noah to bed, I looked in on Abby. Monty had given her a bath, played with her, and read her stories. Now they were both sound asleep in her bed, the last storybook having fallen from his hands and off to the side.
I went downstairs to grade student papers, but I kept my computer on. Every so often I checked RealClearPolitics.com or more importantly, FiveThirtyEight.com. Nate Silver had been doing his updates late at night this week.
An hour or two had passed when Monty came down to find me.
I looked up from my computer. “I thought you were out for the night.”
“No.” He sat down next to me at the table which was now set up as a desk. “Grading papers?”
“Yeah.” I pressed refresh on my computer. Still no update.
“When do you think you’ll come to bed?”
“I don’t know.” I kept my eyes on the computer screen and away from him. “I’d like to wait for Nate Silver to do his update.”
“When will that be?”
“I don’t know.”
“Sweetheart.” Monty scooted his chair in closer to me. “Can’t you wait until tomorrow to see the update?”
I looked up at him. He had concern all over his face. “Is now the part when you’re going to tell me that I’m too obsessed, and I’m being difficult, and that I should calm down?”
Monty scratched the side of his head, right above his ear. His dark hair was still too long, but he must have shaved today. “I wasn’t going to say that.”
“Well, good. Because if Romney wins, I won’t be able to just tune it out. The media will tell this story, they’ll say that Obama made mistakes, and that all the hope and change was misguided, and it will take years for history to remember him right, if they ever do. It will be wrong, and unfair, and I’ll still have to talk about it. It’s what I do, and I can’t just let it go.”
Monty nodded. “I know.” Then he reached over and closed my laptop shut.
“Hey!” I said.
“Talk to me for a minute.” He grabbed the edges of my chair and pulled so that we were facing each other.
“I just told you what was on my mind. What else do you want?”
“I want my wife back.” He cupped my cheek in his hand. “Sweetheart, you seem so unhappy. Is just the election, or is there more?”
I met his eyes. “It’s been a lousy two months.” I heaved a sigh, and my chest rose and fell. We were both silent for a moment. It was time to confess. “I really missed you. I still miss you.”
He looked at me in this way of his, like he's the only person who has ever really seen me. His hand travelled from my face down to the back of my neck, where he began to rub. “I miss you too. So God damn much.” He leaned in and kissed my forehead. “I’ll make it up to you, okay?”
I nodded and looked down. He leaned in closer and gave me a gentle, lingering kiss on the lips.
“Please come to bed.”
It was futile to resist. I could barely remember how, but for him, I smiled. His eyes lit up.
We went upstairs.
Okay. So maybe Nate Silver isn’t the only man who can make me happy.