Somewhere in the boxes of family photos that document all kinds of questionable childhood decisions (the perm in eighth grade, the Little House on the Prairie dress I wore to school once) is a photo of my first wrong call in politics. It was fourth grade, and my class was hosting a mock election in the shadow of the Reagan-Carter contest. My friend Kelly was going to be playing Reagan; I am not quite sure how I wound up as Carter.
The photo is of me dressed in a beige corduroy suit, with a straw "Carter for President" boater hat. Not visible is the speech my mom and I had written; my contributions were probably along the lines of "take care of the planet" and "equal pay for equal work" (these are a concepts that even a grade-schooler can understand).
My mom put in something about SALT II. When it came time to deliver our speeches, I learned that I had gravely misunderstood the assignment: Kelly's speech promised longer recess and tastier desserts in the cafeteria. Or the election was a more accurate representation of that election than the teacher could have hoped.
I lost, Carter lost, and as far as I know, the promise of a longer recess remained unfulfilled, but however much the experience scarred me, here I am: earning a living perched on a soapbox, trying to talk SALT II in a more-recess world.
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