Last Saturday morning I was fast asleep and then I woke up. After so long of waiting I couldn’t believe that it was here; finally, it was here. It was a special day — a day I’d been waiting and planning for as long as I could remember. “Yes, Steve,” I said, pinching myself in case it was a dream, “today is eggs and soldiers and blood day”.
One morning two weeks beforehand, I’d got a little bit frustrated with my Coco Pops because our house had just been unlaterally declared a full-fat milk-free zone and Coco Pops with skinny milk just isn’t the same, so I refused to eat them and asked for eggs and soldiers and blood instead. But Susan wouldn’t let me, saying that eggs are full of koles colles fat, and that they should only be eaten in moderation.
“That’s not fair!” I protested. “I’m a grown man and I can eat anything I want!”
“You cook it, then,” Susan said.
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“You mean, in the kitchen?” I asked.
“But I’m not allowed to use the stove or the microwave,” I protested, “and I don’t know how to make the can opener work on the eggs.”
“I know,” said Susan smugly. “So how are you going to cook yourself breakfast if I don’t make it for you?”
I have to admit she had me there.
But midway through last week Susan promised that because I was going to have such a busy day on Saturday I could have any breakfast I liked on Saturday morning, eggs and soldiers and blood included. I could barely sleep for the excitement on Friday night; plus, it was really uncomfortable on Stephen Conroy’s driveway where I was waiting to meet him to negotiate a preference deal. So, when Susan put the plate of eggs and soldiers down in front of me the next morning I got a little bit carried away with the tomato sauce bottle and got blood everywhere, including on the roof and all down the front of the bottle suit. My son got all surly because he had to have another shower.
Disappointed at having to leave the bottle suit at home, I first changed into a tracksuit and then into tan pants and a casual shirt when Susan gave me That Look. Getting in the car, full of purpose and a feeling of history in the making, the whole family headed off to spend the day hitting the hostings and fighting for my re-election to the parliament of Australia.
I was determined to visit every polling booth in the country but Susan suggested we visit only a handful around the Family First heartland of eastern Melbourne. When we arrived at the first primary school Susan gave me a bundle of papers and told me to hand them out to the voters who were lined up in a line.
“What are these?” I asked.
“How-to-vote cards,” she answered.
“What are they for?”
“They tell voters how to vote for Family First.”
I studied the card and discovered a terrible printing error.
“But there’s somebody else’s name in the Family First box!”
“That’s the lower house candidate,” Susan explained.
“The what?” I asked.
“The House of Representatives.”
“The green house,” Susan said, exasperated.
“Oh, right,” I said. “So where’s the red house voting card?”
She reached out and turned over the card in my hand and, upon inspection, I discovered another terrible printing error.
“There’s no number in the box next to my name!”
I spent the next couple of hours walking along the line handing voting cards to the “punters” as my son was calling them. After a while I perfected my pitch. “Hi!” I’d greet them cheerily, giving them a how to card vote. “Vote for Family First,” I’d implore before instructing them to write their name and signature on the card and drop it into the ballot box. Some people would ask me what my policies were and if I couldn’t find Susan I’d tell them that I supported water and stopping the Apple Macs. Every now and again I’d walk past someone from another political party so I’d stick my tongue out at them inside my mouth.
It was hard work, let me tell you. Walking up and down and up and down, and talking and talking and talking to a whole bunch of conspicuents I’d never met before. By lunchtime I was exhausted but Susan wouldn’t let me have a sausage until I’d voted because a bunch of TV cameras had arrived and she said I shouldn’t keep them waiting. I joined the line and waited for my turn to vote but it was taking forever. I was so hungry that my tummy was rumbling and my head was spinning, and all I could smell was sausage and onion, so I decided to exercise my right as leader of a political party and push in. However, this ended disastrously when my conspicuents, surely not aware of just who I was, sent me straight to the back of the queue. One of the TV cameramen was laughing so hard he had to put his camera down.
After dropping my signed how-to-vote card in the box, eating two sausages in bread, and trying to wash the sauce out of my shirt, me and the family drove around to a few other schools to hand out more voting cards. By 6pm I was a dead man walking and fell fast asleep under a tree next to the Greens’ booth. Susan must’ve carried me to the car and into the house because I woke up hours later and fully clothed in my bed. I stumbled out to the lounge room where Susan was watching Mel and Cockie and asked who won the election.
“Nobody,” said Susan.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I replied. “How can nobody win the election?”
“It looks like a hung parliament.”
“OK, yeah, so, I get that,” I lied, “but who won? Gillard or Rabbit?”
Susan got out a notepad and pencil and drew me some pictures to explain a hung parliament, which I think I get now. It kind of means that independent politicians become sort of more important than the Prime Minister and get to choose which side they like better or something. I stopped listening because there was a close-up of Mel on the screen and I felt that funny feeling I get if I watch SBS late at night.
“Anyway,” said Susan. “Don’t you want to know how you’re going in the count?”
“I thought I won,” I replied. “I voted for me.”
Susan started to explain how Senate voting works but I was … isn’t Mel simply gorgeous when she laughs?
So, here we are nearly a week after the election and there’s still no winner. I’ve been attempting to make touch with Katter, Oakscott and the other guy so I can advise them on some out-of-the-box negotiation strategies but nobody’s returning my calls. But the good news is that at latest count Family Frist is 0.12% up on its 2004 vote. Watch out, democracy, here comes another six years of Steve!
Until next time.