POLITICAL WIVES

I have never been very politically inclined. The issues are so complicated! Any real analysis of the state of the U.S. involves knowledge of history, and I have never really understood economic theory. I respect Bill Moyers, but his discussions are way over my head. So I ignore politics in favor of reality television.

But now that we are in the midst of an election, and any politician who is married has his wife involved in his campaign, I have started to wonder what it would be like to be married to one. I assume it would be horrible. I have been married for forty some years, and I shudder when I think about what my husband would be like on the campaign trail.

Do the wives of these men have to politely but subtly tell the guys when they have a poppy seed stuck between their two front teeth? Do politicians get gas? If so, it is probably the wives who have to slip them a Gas-X under the table. I am sure the candidates all have impeccable table manners, but I know that everyone burps once in a while. So does the wife burp in solidarity, or just look the other way?

All that smiling must be exhausting. I know that my husband doesn’t make me smile that much. And I hate holding hands in public. I am proud of my husband, usually, but I certainly don’t beam at him that often. While holding his hand.

Political wives have to convince all who will listen that their husband is really heroic. They tell tales of their men resisting hazing in college, saving small animals from euthanasia (Ann Romney must have a particular problem on the animal issues), standing up for the rights of seniors while fighting entitlements, and stuff like that. All the while, they must smile and look dutiful. Meanwhile, they can’t talk about themselves that much. Most of them seem to have law degrees from Harvard, or graduate degrees in esoteric specialties like biomedical engineering. But it’s not about them.

Women campaigning for their men have to have every hair in place, wear suits and heels, stand up all the time, and laugh in all the right places. They are experts at the non-answer: when asked why their husband fails to support the rights of poor women, they say things like, “All Americans deserve a chance to succeed, and my husband believes firmly in the opportunities that exist for all Americans.”

These women all look as if they make really good cookies. All their pores are clear. They have French Manicures, because red nail polish is alarming. They don’t squint, and they manage to look interested when their husbands go off on tangents. They go to banquets all the time, but they don’t gain weight, even though they have to take bites of everything. I bet they all hate chocolate mousse.

They work very hard. They stand by their men, even as some of those men are arranging dates with their secretaries. And what is the most cherished dream of these women? I bet it isn’t to move in to the governor’s mansion/an apartment in the Watergate Building/the White House. I bet what all campaigning women really want is to go home, put on a pair of sweatpants, grab a bag of Doritos, turn on “Jeopardy,” and tell their husbands to put a sock in it. And to keep his hands to himself, thank you.

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