High Times on the Low Road – My Life On The Campaign Trail

“Oh hello Senator, I didn’t see you there…So apparently we’ve been doing this Facebook thing since exactly one year ago today, or so they tell me. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that little time, given how much we’ve packed into 12 months. Suffice to say, my life has definitely become more ridiculous since you’ve brought me onto the campaign trail, my shenanigans and debauchery have multiplied by one billion (cue Carl Sagan…) and the general merriment and joie de vivre are in endless supply, much like the Counselor’s jam jar. In short, your nope has yup written all over it! I’m looking forward to the next year (and the next, and the next…) of more of the same. Now let’s go celebrate and invade Alan’s hot tub!”

When I moved to Vancouver a few years ago, my first order of business was to drive down to Seattle to collect my belongings from Amtrak (they’d been shipped up from San Francisco). I explored the city and became so enchanted that I eagerly seized the opportunity to come back when I found out that, randomly enough, someone from my Vermont high school lived down there. (We’d encountered one another on Plenty of Fish, which we each got a kick out of, and quickly arranged a meeting.) After our reunion, I ended up exploring a bit of Fremont and got to chatting with two lovely guys in one of the bars I sat in. One thing led to another, we made a night of it and I ended up with two new friends.

I would travel down to Seattle often after that. My social network there was far more solid and welcoming that the one I had going in Vancouver at the time. In fact, and not many of those good people know it, but Seattle really saved my sanity during what became one of the loneliest periods of my life. Whenever I’d feel isolated in Van City, or would start to buckle under the weight of all of my struggles up here, someone in Washington would invite me down for a party and it always perked me right up. I met a lot of nice, fun people during those couple of years.

Out of the entire cast of characters I know in Seattle, I never would’ve believed that a Senator of Washington would have emerged to turn my life on its wayward head. Funny thing is, we had shared social circles for several years but barely even said more than a hello to one another. Although I’d attended my share of parties at his place, I‘d have been hard pressed to pick him out in a lineup. I guess the Universe wasn’t quite ready for this unholy alliance to forge. Ultimately though, all it took was me coming down to meet a date on New Year’s Eve, downing a half bottle of gin and rolling around the back of Senator’s white, creeper van (aka Lester) while making out with a saucy character dressed in a red spandex devil suit, to make a politician take notice. Because after that we started meeting up on his regular visits to Vancouver to visit his cohort, the Counselor.

Of course, Senator wasn’t always a senator. Following in the tradition of all great superhero mythology, the Senator was born out of sudden and unexpected circumstances. During a trip to Vancouver he, the Counselor and company were trying to get into a strip club and it wasn’t looking good for them. Senator was wearing his overcoat and gloves and looked very, well…senatorial. Which prompted Counselor – a quick-thinking, fast-talking master of puppets if ever there was one (how appropriate that he was a Master of Props in the real world) – to start introducing him to door staff as THE Senator of Washington. The staff ate it up, even going so far as to give them all VIP seating and offering to check their bottle of wine at the coat check. The role-playing just grew from there and really took on a life of its own.

Flash forward to my first outing with the Senator and the Counselor. All I need to really tell you is that I woke up from a lost weekend on a floor and in a bunny onesie, with the Grindr app freshly installed on my phone, a pair of panties dangling from the disco ball in the Counselor’s living room, and a vague recollection of having staged my own kidnapping the night prior. I made a new bus friend on the way home and in the early hours, who struck up conversation with me by telling me to look up Big Black Hands on Facebook, and who enthused about this magical universe of ours and how there are no coincidences. Because these kinds of events just seem to happen after a bender with the Senator.

When my horoscope ten days from ten days past had promised me high adventure and advised me to be ready for anything, I was game. Even so, I’d hardly suspected that I’d jump down the mother of all rabbit holes and become immersed in a world that was part Rat Pack and part Looney Toons, with a dash of Merry Pranksters. It’s safe to say that I did my skidding in broadside in a cloud of smoke, in full appreciation of the unfolding life lesson of not ever taking life too seriously. That’s where the magic lives.

So began my life on the campaign trail. Newly nicknamed Grindr and appointed as Communications Advisor, I wholeheartedly embraced my newly adopted routine of nights on end of cocktail imbibing, indecent exposure, dance off-pants off and racy home movies we’d film in an never-ending effort to one-up one another by proving that one faction of us was more over the top than the other. Many of the videos began with Counselor’s bosom buddy Alan chiding, “Oh hello, I didn’t see you there…” But the best by far was the Superbowl Sunday edition, where we Vancouverites clearly stole the prize from our Seattle counterparts when we filled up Alan’s hot tub with bubble bath and re-enacted Caligula.

On one of Senator’s longer visits, we set a record as days of frivoling melted into one another and before you knew it, we were on Day 11, bitches! (This became my mantra for months to follow.) We’d all don our housecoats, which quickly became the standard uniform for a nightcap, and would go make a scene somewhere or other. I’d usually wake up after several hours of nap time in a onesie of some sort, then hightail it down the block from Counselor’s to my place of work – stopping at the drugstore along the way to pillage the makeup counter, in an effort try to make myself look semi-presentable – and would attempt to sell travel to the public until the day was done, at which point it would be time to start the process all over again. And that, my lovelies, is how you hoist yourselves out of a Vancouver rut.

Occasionally we’d all caucus on the Island, to commiserate with the Counselor’s equally lovely and colorful colleagues. In fact, here is one of our calls to action, as issued to us via Counselor:

“Days are getting closer to the island getaway. The loose plan would be to come to the house to ditch stuff and pre-drink, then head downtown for dinner and debauchery. End up back in the garage to carry on till the break of dawn.

Sleeping arrangements will be dodgy. We have two double beds, two singles, two couches, two cots and lots of floor space. I’m guessing it will just end up in a messy cuddle puddle.

Slow get up Sunday breakfast and maybe a nature walk or bike ride, then our kids come back and crash the party in the afternoon. And at that point we have to watch our language and keep our pants on. Which basically means fun is over, so you may as well head back to the mainland.”

Copy that.

What a weekend it was. I’m sure we brought new life to provincial capital as we descended on downtown and ended up at Big Bad John’s. Big Bad John’s is one of my favorite holes in the wall, a skeevy hillbilly bar complete with peanut shells on the floor and the bras of patrons past strewn from the ceilings and light fixtures. We ended up merging our merry little band with a stagette party comprised of a horde of girls wearing sailor hats. Senator, wearing his overcoat and white collared shirt, played his role to the hilt and passed around trays of shots as if he were royalty entertaining the masses. He’d occasionally tell the girls that he was up here on official business, which was to study the transit system of Barkerville. Counselor meanwhile summoned a limo to take us home, inviting the stagette party to join us. I overheard several of the girls debating the juicy option which had presented itself to them. “I don’t know, should we go? I mean, I’ve never partied with a Senator before!”

After our limo ride back to the outskirts of town, we put on our costumes and dipped into the Counselor’s jam jar, which was essentially a Smucker’s jar filled with a seemingly bottomless supply of powdered MDMA. As promised, the garage party did carry on ’til the break of dawn. And it ended with a bunch of grown ass men and women donning housecoats of brightly-colored hues and animal print, taking to the many bicycles in residence and biking the ‘burbs at 7 in the am. Families were out walking their dogs, bearing witness to people who were in various states of whatever, some catching their robes on the bike chains and letting their family jewels flap in the breeze. It was a lot like a mini Bay To Breakers, or a Burningpalooza.

As a gesture of good faith, more panties were sacrificed to the party gods. Earlier, my supply literally exploded out of my suitcase as I ransacked it during a tipsy rampage. As we skidded broadside on out of there to catch the ferry home, one of our cohorts mentioned that he spied a pair dangling from the dart board in the game room. “Awww, poor Smokey,” he wistfully commented about the scene that our host would be walking into, “just pouring himself a pint and settling in for a game of darts…and panties.”

You know, it’s just not a successful weekend if you haven’t lost some undergarments and a little dignity. Meanwhile, some equally colorful adventures lay across a border and at the other end of a campaign trail of panty breadcrumbs and benders. But we’ll save some of those stories for another time.

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