The culmination of seven hundred ninety-eight months of campaigning is finally upon us. It’s Iowa caucus time! Have you been pretending to know what a caucus is every time it’s mentioned by your coworkers and stepdad Steve? You’re not alone. Also, what you thought was Iowa is Nebraska. It’s one more to the right. Yep, that’s the one.
I’m sure you’ve heard the term “caucus” bandied about, but what is it really? Well, it’s sort of like a primary but more ye olde. It’s the Sturbridge Village of the primary process, if you will. People don’t just stop by their polling place and pull a lever, instead they come together as a community and discuss the candidates. There’s a little stumping and a little mingling. And then people take sides either by ballot or by physically congregating together. Is there cake? I don’t know but there should be.
Caucusing is kind of great. It makes people feel like an active part of the democratic process. Plus it’s old timey so everyone can feel a bit in the founding fathers spirit without shelling out the big bucks for Hamilton tickets. It’s also a great way to decide things as a group. Gather your family and caucus to decide what to get for dinner tonight. Make impassioned speeches then have pizza congregate by the door. Thai by the dining room. What else can you caucus? Well how about who deserves the blame in your divorce? Fun right?!
Divorce is usually a private process and that’s all well and good but how sure are you that your ex-spouse was really totally at fault for your break up? What if you had a definitive answer decided by a group of your peers and neighbors? Well, that’d be a caucus!
Republicans caucus in Iowa by secret ballot, and that’s boring, so we’ll pretend your marriage is a Democrat for the purposes of our exercise. Democrats pitch their candidates with little spiels, then they gather in groups according to which candidate they support. Then they pitch a little more to sway the undecided group until one candidate is declared winner. So here we go, for your consideration:
A Divorce Caucus
INT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CAFETERIA – DUSK:
People milling about everywhere, chatting and taking off winter weather layers. Some fill paper cups with coffee from carafes. There is a positive vibe and excitement in the air.
DENISE, mid-forties, holding a clipboard, walks up to a microphone stand and taps the microphone. The crowd turns their attention to her and they all go silent.
Thank you all so much for coming out today. As you know Paul and I have decided to get a divorce.
(Cheers and whistles)
Yes, thank you! We are excited, too. As I was saying, thank you all for coming out, I know it’s freezing out there, we really appreciate it. You’re here today not only to make your own opinions known, but you are doing the community a greater good. The importance of designating one of us as marriage poison cannot be minimized. By the end of the night, we will have a clear-cut person at fault. I know a lot of you came in here with your minds made up as to who really destroyed this marriage, but before you congregate together with your chosen side, really think it through. This is serious. The winner of this caucus will not only get the house, the lake house, the kids, the dog and the jet skis, the winner will also get the most coveted prizes of all: the bragging rights and the dignity.
Just to get the logistics down. If you believe Paul is totally at fault for the crap sandwich that was demise of our marriage, please head over to the right side of the room near that life-sized scarecrow I have dressed in Paul’s clothes, threw six dozen eggs at, and pierced with several arrows.
PAUL, mid-forties, fixing his hair and rolling up his shirt sleeves steps up to the microphone.
Yes and if you believe Denise is the one who drove our marriage into a lake of garbage, please congregate over on the left side of the room near the steel trash can full of Denise’s clothes that is — Dave, go ahead (DAVE sets trash can’s contents on fire)– currently on fire.
Right, thank you Paul. And if you are undecided, please move to the center of the room near that pile of our wedding pictures which Paul and I have painstakingly poked holes in all the eyes and on which we drew classic schoolboy-style graffiti penises.
Ok, so if everyone’s got their fill of coffee cake, thanks again to Denise’s mom (Denise’s mom waves from the crowd), I think we can get going.
Yes ok, so I call this divorce caucus to order and with the power vested in me by Ben Franklin and St. Helena of Constantinople, the patron saint of divorces, I officially open this caucus.
(Cheers and whistles)
The crowd disperses. Eight people congregate around the scarecrow. Eight people circle around the trash can fire. Six people remain in the center of the room around the wedding picture pile.
(Waving his arm and counting quietly) Ok, so looks like we’ve got ourselves a tie right now. As per divorce caucus rules, Denise and I are not allowed to stump for ourselves, so each faction must appoint a delegate to speak for the group.
(Mumbling and conferring)
GINA, early forties, steps forward from the group surrounding the trash can.
I’d like to speak on behalf of all the Denise haters.
The caucus recognizes Gina Thompson. Even though one could argue Gina Thompson’s affair with my husband was the quote, unquote, straw that broke the camel’s back in regards to my marriage to Paul. Also please let it be noted, Gina Thompson was my best friend for the better part of the past thirty years.
Both points are noted, Denise. Please step forward to the microphone, Gina and might I say that’s a lovely dress. Who will be speaking for the faction who hates me?
ANNA, early seventies, Denise’s mom, steps forward.
That’d be me, Paul.
Great, if you both could make your way up here. Gina, would you like to speak first?
You’d like that wouldn’t you Paul?
(Walks up to the microphone.) Hi there, as Denise mentioned, I’m Gina Thompson and Denise and I have been best friends for the better part of thirty years, and as such I can tell you Gina is the worst person I have ever met. She’s petty and cruel. She once threw six meatballs at Becky Stafford in sixth grade. One by one, for no reason, and with no remorse. She does not give up her seat on the bus for the elderly. She has never once wiped down an elliptical machine after use at the Y. She does not recycle and for six months in 2014 she would not shut up about her paleo diet. Paul did his best but there is only so much a person can take. She spits gum out of car windows. She regularly cuts the line at Trader Joe’s. She leaves the gate open at the dog run. She is a cancer upon this town and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was sent here by Lucifer himself. Thank you.
(Steps to microphone.) Hello. I’m Anna, I’m Denise’s mom and I’ll cut right to the chase. Paul cheated on my precious baby angel with this woman (points to Gina). I don’t blame Gina. She’s from a broken home. We did all we could to invite her into our family to give her some structure but facts are facts, she was a latchkey kid with unlimited access to cable television. There was nothing we could do to save her. I’m not here to demonize Gina though she makes it pretty easy wearing outfits like that. I’m here to tell you about Paul.
Paul keys cars in the Stop’n’Shop parking lot. Now I’ve never seen it with my own eyes but I have heard rumors and as we all know there is no smoke without fire. He does it to get his jollies off when he’s not cheating on my daughter or doing hard marijuana drugs in the school parking lot across from his office when he’s meant to be at staff meetings.
Here’s a question: how many of you have been forced to read Paul’s (makes air quoting gesture) novel? (The entire room raises their hands.) My condolences. Now I don’t know what’s more insulting, the painful purple prose or the fact that the main character, Harry, is clearly meant to be based on old Paul here. Except Paul isn’t a delicate, tortured soul whose genius is pummeled by his corporate world commitments. Paul’s a sad sack of trash who has yet to accept his role in life — average man in an average town with average looks and average intelligence who thinks he’s way funnier than he actually is. That’s not to mean you should give up the writing Paul! Keep going so building that extension on the house for your writing room isn’t a total waste of money! Sure your son will never have the braces he so desperately needs, but we’re all glad you’ve got a big room for your antique typewriter that you’ve been too lazy to go get fixed, so you use your work laptop to write on instead. On the couch. In the living room. Paul is awful. Thank you.
Just one last thing, thanks to Facebook, I am sure you’re aware that Denise is part of a pyramid scheme.
(Yelling) It’s a multi-level marketing sales program!
(The entire crowd walks over to the trash can on fire.)
It seems I have won! Wow. Ok, I was not expecting this because of the whole affair with Gina thing. Wow. Ok, I’m honored really. Thanks guys. Thanks a lot. I really love those jet skis. And the lake house. Oh and yeah the kids, the kids too, obviously. But wow, the jet skis! This is so great. Thank you. Thank you everyone. And a big shout out to hydroverdeplasmine glycol, the ancient seaweed extract proven to regenerate cells and activate collagen production causing visible plumping, because without it Dylan and Meadows Beauty would not exist. And without Dylan and Meadows’ pervasive, predatory pyramid scheme, Denise wouldn’t have bought into the company and would not be carpet bombing each and every one of your Facebook feeds, walls and inboxes, annoying the everloving guts out of you. And without that, I wouldn’t have (yelling) both jet skis right now! Wooooo! Yeah! (Pulls Gina towards himself, dips her and kisses her.)
Ok. Well. Thanks everyone for coming out and participating. And listen, if you’re looking to spend more time with your kids and quit the daily grind because you just can’t take one more long-ass commute, come talk to me about becoming your own boss. And if you do end up googling Dylan and Meadows, please be aware while the income disclosure chart looks like a pyramid, it’s actually a triangle. A triangle of financial independence for you and your family. I just need four more members on my team to zero out my initial investment of twelve hundred dollars.
And that, my friends is how a divorce caucus would work. And if any community theater groups are interested in performing my caucus piece, please reach out and I will file my Writers Guild paperwork ASAP.
James J. Sexton