Operation Befuddle: My Election 2012 diary

This year, someone decided Wisconsin was a swing state — and targeted all the telephones they could find.

But as they — and readers of my Facebook page — learned this past month, I have my ways of dealing with unsolicited calls…

Thursday, Oct. 25 — As the phone continues to ring off the hook
with political calls, I have decided to take my responses into the realm
of performance art. 

Today, I shall be answering all calls as Donald, a
67-year-old single-issue voter who wants Wendy’s to go back to using the
old buns.

Friday, Oct. 26 — Pollsters and canvassers calling my home today
will speak with Benjamin, an aspiring longshoreman whose collie is
possessed by the ghost of Jerry Lewis

And yes, I know, but Benjamin
doesn’t, and please don’t tell him.

Saturday, Oct. 27 — Canvassers calling my home today will find an
enthusiastic respondent in Thom, a stay-at-home bachelor. Regardless of
the caller’s political party, Thom will announce with glee that not only
does he support the caller’s candidate, he’s already voted for him —
four times
. Thom will then ask, “So where all do you want me to vote on
Election Day?” and “How do you spell your name again?”

Sunday, Oct. 28 — Pollsters calling this day will hear the
weeping of Klaus, an undecided voter still mourning the passing of
crooner Andy Williams. He wants to see a return to the old standards.

Monday, Oct. 29 — With Hurricane Sandy on the way, it’s unclear how many political folks will be
calling today if some of the phonebanks are in the northeast. Those that do call my house today will speak with Jimmie. He is a Kiss Army veteran and he votes.

Tuesday, Oct. 30 — Every political call since yesterday morning
has been a robocall, resulting in a temporary suspension of my campaign
of befuddlement. Now we know where all the phone banks with live
operators are, I suppose…

Wednesday, Oct. 31 — “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me
back in!” The political calls to the house have started again, leaving
me no choice but to return to my campaign of confusion. And so today,
canvassers calling my home will speak with Garry. Hard of hearing and
expecting a call from the local plumber, Garry will insist that before
proceeding, any caller address what’s wrong with the vent stack.

Thursday, Nov. 1 — Picking up the phone for pollsters’ calls at
Casa Miller today is Millard. A duck-decoy painter who last voted in
1976, Millard will be lobbying for an immediate end to the national
55-mile-an-hour speed limit.

Friday, Nov. 2 — Heading out for a convention today, but
canvassers calling my home will not do so in vain. The honorable spouse
will be answering in the name of Myrna, a yam sculptor of local renown. 

After asking for the campaign’s position on the reintroduction of
wolf-hunting in Wisconsin, Myrna will grow more and more agitated —
until finally insisting that the caller’s candidate stop hedging and
pick a side in the vampire/werewolf war already.

Saturday, Nov. 3 — I’m in Iowa today, but my little girl will be
answering political calls at the house. She will say her daddy is out
campaigning for school board and can’t come to the phone right now, and
she will happily ask for the caller’s support. 

When the caller declines
for whatever reason, she has been instructed to squeal, “But I want you
to vote for Daddeee!” — screaming crying jag to follow. 

That should
keep things quiet until Monday.

Sunday, Nov. 4 — No such luck. So when the canvassers call asking for me this
afternoon, my son will tell them I’m on the way to the phone — and in
the meantime will regale them with details about his new model train layout, in which he
intends to recreate the old Green Bay and Western line. He’ll continue with a disquisition on how N-scale
is better than HO-scale, and then describe how he’s wiring the whole set-up. 

When the
callers ask if I’m close to the phone yet, he’ll say, “Oh, Dad? He’s coming. From Iowa.” 

Which is then his perfect segue into talking about his plans
for the Transcontinental Railroad.

Sunday evening — Back from Iowa, and clinging to a
fragment of a voice after a bunch of panels. And now my hoarse rasp should add color to my
characters answering the phone for the last round of political canvasser
calls to the house. 

For the remainder of the evening, I’ll be Gerald,
whose concerns about the secret government fluoridation of rainclouds
are bound to enlighten and entertain.

Monday, Nov. 5With less than 24 hours to Election Day, I’ve
brought in an all-star closer to answer political canvassers calling my
home: Reginald

Reginald has lived on a houseboat in Lake Winnebago
since 1996, when he declared it a sovereign nation; due to a faulty
media strategy, absolutely no one noticed. Reginald will consider the
call an attempt by the candidate’s party to open diplomatic ties, and he
will say he is open to a summit meeting on the dock, so long as a
trusted third party is in attendance. 

He will suggest Cher.

Election Day, Nov. 6 — Outgoing message:

“Thank you for calling the Miller residence. Our phones are
now closed for Election 2012.
“After consideration, Mr. Miller has decided to vote, as he always does, for Pat Paulsen. Mr. Paulsen first announced his
candidacy in 1968 on the Smothers Brothers comedy program and has run strongly in many
presidential elections since then. Despite the candidate’s death in 1997, Mr. Miller believes this may at last be the year.

“We do thank you for your interest in this election. If you
believe your candidate will win, please hang up now, and begin collecting your
yard signs.

“If you believe your candidate will lose, please stay on the line
to learn how to find grief counseling centers and all-night liquor stores in your