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Being a Political Husband

I find myself cast in the role of political husband.  It's a strange place to stand.

Darwin manages the village of Lake Orion, north of us, and his job carries with it a number of public appearances.  A huge new restaurant opens downtown and the owner throws a reception for various local people connected to the project, including Darwin.  Every year, the village puts on a firework display that draws people all the way up from Detroit, and Darwin must attend.  A charity puts on a Christmas fundraiser, at which the police department buys an entire table, and the chief invites Darwin.  Every summer, the downtown businesses put on a flower show and art fair, and Darwin must go.

With all these events comes the unspoken rule that spouses come along.  This never occurred to me when Darwin and I started dating.  It sort of snuck up on me.  Darwin casually mentioned the flower and art fair one day.  "I have to put in an appearance," he said.  "You should come with me as my partner."

"Oh," I said, a little nonplused.  "Sure.  I can do that."

At the fair, I followed Darwin around like a duckling and quickly learned the art of standing around with a look of polite interest on my face while various people (LOTS of various people) came up to Darwin for this or that.  He always made introductions, of course.  And I did know how to schmooze.  Every mid-list author learns it as a survival skill.  I schmoozed with Darwin from one end of the fair to the other.

"I'm becoming a political spouse," I declared at the end of it.

And lo, so it has come to pass. I've attended a number of events (including some unexpected Independence Day yachting on Lake Orion) and met a number of local celebrities.  (Here my author training came into play--I've met lots of celebrities already and don't get babbly or star-struck.)  It's weird.  I'm a teacher and a novelist, about as far from the political arena as you can get, but here I am, learning to navigate the odd political waters of municipal government.

The places life will take you!

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( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 16th, 2015 05:23 pm (UTC)
It was like that growing up. Mike was first the head of a public health lab in Kingston, with some minor notice. But when he was tapped to start and head the federal AIDS lab in Ottawa it got insane. We learned how to be The Wife and Children(tm). It's why when I hit my first con and ran into people that were OHMYGODAUTHORS... the training kicked in.

It's a weird mental state to run around in for any length of time. I always found it tiring.
Dec. 17th, 2015 04:21 pm (UTC)
It does get tiring after a while, if you're not a people person.
Dec. 16th, 2015 06:20 pm (UTC)
I would think you would do fine at mingles and meet-and-greet events. My wife is very shy at public events of any kind. I jokingly told her I was thinking about running for local office, and she told me I better tell everyone I was single because, while she wouldn't leave me, my constituents would NEVER meet my wife.

From my big-city upbringing, I actually have no idea what a "town manager" does. Can you tell us a little about what Darwin's job entails, and where the job sits in the hierarchy of town politics? Is it in any way a step toward higher office? I'd like to know more.
Dec. 17th, 2015 04:19 pm (UTC)
I always tell people that the city/village/town manager does what everyone thinks the mayor does. Darwin basically runs the city. He watches the budget, hires and fires people, oversees police, fire, and Department of Public Works, runs village hall, and so on. He's hired by the village council, so his job is semi-political; if a new council takes over after an election, it's very common for them to fire the old manager and hire a new one. The only promotion you can get is to get a job managing a larger town, one with more money and more prestige. :)
Dec. 17th, 2015 08:12 pm (UTC)
Interesting job. How volatile is the political landscape in the town? Is a change in council direction/leadership likely?
Dec. 19th, 2015 02:18 am (UTC)
Depends on the city or village, really. However, Darwin has been fired from every job he's ever held. He expects it, actually. (!)
Dec. 16th, 2015 09:27 pm (UTC)
On the bright side, you know you'll never have to stand next to him at a podium wearing that pasted-on, political spouse phony smile ( you know the one I mean, because it seems like we see it on the news about every year or so ) while he tries to explain how his years of "family values" election rhetoric will be unchanged by the affair he's just been caught at.
Dec. 17th, 2015 04:20 pm (UTC)
That's for sure!
Dec. 16th, 2015 11:23 pm (UTC)
I've never been a political spouse, since my spouse has never been political, but way back when he worked in Silicon Valley, I would dutifully come along to company affairs. My most-fun strategy was to go off on my own, brazenly introducing myself to all and sundry, first name only, without a word of explanation. I expect I left more than a few of them scratching their heads when they were unable to remember where I fit in the company hierarchy.

Second-favorite strategy is a variation, in which I say, "Hi, I'm Deborah. I write science fiction, so it's my job to be nosy about everything..." and then proceed to interview them about their work, especially the tech-application aspects. Remember, this is Silicon Valley, and chances were always excellent that my social skills left theirs in the shade.

Edited at 2015-12-16 11:24 pm (UTC)
Dec. 17th, 2015 04:20 pm (UTC)
Always handy to create and exploit contacts! :)
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
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