What is it about first times that suck? OK, that’s not a blanket statement for everything, but in general, first times tend to be weird and awkward and not at all like what the movies tell you.
I guess media is to blame for this great expectation I have for first times. I always think that the first time I do anything it’s going to be epic–I’ll remember it for the rest of my life. And, I do, remember it. But not for the reasons I think.
In my head I picture fireworks and probably confetti, maybe balloons that drop from the ceiling. There’ll be a soft glow around everything that gives off the illusion of perfection. Everywhere I go people will be staring and clapping for me with huge smiles on their faces. “Way to go!” “You did it!” “That was amazing!” “You’re fabulous!” Those are some of the words of encouragement I’ll hear among many other praises.
There’ll probably be flash photography and a red carpet, too.
But what tends to happen is I am sorely disappointed and left . . . well, unsatisfied.
Like first kisses for example, do you remember your very first kiss? Was it romantic and sweet?
You probably envisioned this perfect night where you and your love interest spend an evening talking and laughing, getting to know each other, probably eating something deliciously romantic like pasta where you share a plate and it just so happens that you grab the same noodle. You look into each others eyes and draw closer and closer until your lips touch in a chaste peck. And there it is. Your first kiss. Sweet and memorable. (This may or may not have derived from a romantic flick about two dogs who fall in love. Ah, amor!)
But I bet most first kisses lean more towards the line of over eager lips going in for a kill that end up in bumping teeth and blood. Or maybe knocking foreheads. If not that then just a remarkably unremarkable, non-monumental, big disappointment of a silly milestone. Possibly something entirely clumsy and messy and not at all the romantic scene you’d envisioned from childhood–it may have even been frightening. That’s OK, it happens. It’s normal. If the first kiss you had terrified you because you saw this huge face zooming in to attack your personal space to plant an unwelcome slobbery mess of a kiss on your un-puckered lips, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Really, I’m sure it happens every day.
Or maybe the first day of high school, or your first day of college. You imagine walking in all cool and suave–the picture of nonchalance. People will look at you in class and whisper, “Who’s that? How cool.” You’ll feel like you’re walking on a million bucks, and then something will happen that will just make you stand out from every other student. And everyone will know who you are–all eyes are on you for the rest of your four years at this educational institution.
What probably happens is you’re in class and you’re so nervous about it being your first day and how you don’t want to blow anything because you never get a second chance at a first impression. But you’re so nervous that your stomach is just bubbling with indigestion and you’re trying to get comfortable in your seat, however, there’s a moment of silence when the teacher asks a question and your stomach is so uncooperative that you let out the tiniest squeak of a fart. And there it is. Your first day ruined. And now you’re known as Farty McFart for the rest of your four years. Classmates will be whispering and snickering at the kid who farted on the first day. (Hopefully it’s not as traumatizing as that).
That was a long story, but I have a point, I think. (I may not).
I voted for the first time today. I exercised my right as an American citizen to vote for the president of the United States. I did my civic duty and will probably peace out for the next four years. (Joking . . . )
So, I was getting a little psyched up about going to the polls and casting in my ballot. My parents and I took a family walk to my old elementary school. It looked exactly as I remembered . . . I’m 24 . . . I was there when I was 12 . . . . wow, that was more than 12 years ago. Still the same tiny place.
I envisioned long lines teeming with people, young and old. I built up this imaginary feeling of 1 part thrill, 2 parts nerve and every part of my body tingling with magic. I could just see my little ballot making its way to the electoral college weighing so heavily in their hands–my vote, with the weight of choosing the next president resting on its paper shoulder.
When we entered the multi-purpose room, the scene that unfolded before my eyes was a little tiled room with mothers and fathers and grandparents (I was the youngest person there by 15 years, except for the babies who were maybe 7).
It wasn’t full by any means. The lines were staggered and people were engaged in friendly conversation: “Hey, Bill!” “Oh, hey–you still live in this precinct?” What the heck was this place? And why did all these old people have the same shoes? (My folks included).
I thought I would walk confidently, striding behind my little screen to cast my vote; I thought it would look something like the Wizard of Oz. We just stood in line waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And I tentatively took my seat at the electronic station, which was this computer that looked like it was built in the 1980′s. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just touched some buttons on the screen. And then I was done.
There were no bells ringing. No lights flashing. Definitely no confetti or pyrotechnics of any kind. So when I walked away, I wasn’t even sure I did it. Vote that is.
I think, to get more people to vote, they should probably incorporate some kind of celebratory confetti throwing, or clappers, or maybe even party hats and those funny sounding paper whistle things. I truly believe with my whole heart that this would entice Americans to come out from hiding if they could feel like superstars for a mere moment.
On the upside, they do give you a sticker.