Running MateBy: Katie Ashley
For my late mother, Ginger, and late grandmother, Virginia, who fostered a love of history and interest in reading about political figures, especially the Kennedys’.
There are some days you never expect to change your life. I’m not talking about a little change off course toward a new and exciting destination—I’m talking about having your entire world shift on its axis and completely restart. Days like these never start off like a Disney movie with singing birds awakening you from a restful slumber while woodland creatures prepare your breakfast and sort out your wardrobe choices.
No, life-altering days always seem to start off in the seventh ring of hell, like when your alarm doesn’t go off and you’re subsequently denied your morning caffeine fix as you sprint around your apartment getting ready at a manic pace. After ensuring that your skirt isn’t tucked up in your pantyhose and that you indeed have a bra on, you haul ass to the bus stop just as the bus careens off. After cursing the bus driver and the universe, you then start jogging the ten blocks to work. Although a cab looks awfully inviting, you remember it’s the end of the month, and you have exactly $66.54 left in your checking account. It’s either eat or ride in a cab, and you enjoy food—well, wine, more precisely—way too much to give in to such extravagances.
So you soldier on while the theme to The Jeffersons plays in your head, because one day, the student loan debt will be paid off and you’ll get to move on up to the East Side to a deluxe apartment in the sky—though in your case, it’s a brownstone in Georgetown. Until then, you’re pretty much screwed.
Just as you round the corner to your building, one of the heels on your Jimmy Choos gets stuck in a street grate, which causes you to pitch forward and practically eat cement. Not only has your purse gone flying, so has the hem of your skirt. It’s currently circling your equator while you moon the morning rush hour crowd.
Oh yeah. Today was a day that would have made even Mother Teresa use a few choice expletives while downing a cold one.
As I was collecting myself off the pavement, my ass received a raucous welcome from the hard hat-wearing Neanderthals across the street. First it was whistles and barking like horndogs. Then they got verbal.
“Yeah, baby! I’d love to pound dat!”
“Mm, mm, mm. Let me pull that thong off with my teeth before I eat that ass!”
When I quickly jerked my skirt down over my hips, the hoots and hollers turned to booing. “Oh fuck off, jackholes!” I shouted over my shoulder before I grabbed my purse and the last shreds of my dignity off the sidewalk. My rebuff was met with howling laughter.
Rolling my eyes, I hobbled into the building with my Choos in one hand and the busted heel in the other. Thankfully, I was completely OCD, so I had a bottle of super glue in my desk drawer that I could use for a quick repair job. It wasn’t like my current dire financial straits would allow for a new pair. These were my black heels—the big gun of my foot attire. At the moment, I could barely afford Payless, least of all more designer shoes. Since I’d bought the pair used off Ebay, I guess I was more of a designer poser than anything.
The elevator swooshed upward to the tenth floor, causing my empty stomach to lurch. After the doors opened, I hurried down the hallway and through the glass doors of the presidential campaign headquarters for Senator James Callahan. At twenty past nine, the place was already buzzing. After his narrow wins in the New Hampshire primary and Iowa caucus, the campaign had kicked into overdrive.
With just weeks until the convention, there wasn’t a moment to waste. When someone runs for president, primary season is do or die. The more wins you rack up, the more likely you are to get the party’s nomination at the summer convention. Since Senator Callahan had only beaten his opponent by five points in each event, he and his team had to put their noses to the grindstone, which in turn meant the campaign staff were working double time.
After tossing my heels and purse on my desk, I made a beeline to the coffee pot. Today wasn’t the day to weaken the sweet, somewhat narcotic brew with sugar or cream. Nope—I began guzzling it down strong and black while it was still scorching hot. My eyes rolled back in my head, and I moaned in almost orgasmic bliss as the caffeine pumped through my system.