One year I decided to play my hand at politics; I had done most everything else and had tried to avoid politics for fear the ignorant masses might like my ideas and want me to run for president. I gave in just to see what I could do in small town and more than anything just to pass the time.
It’s a bad habit of people who earn more money than they are worth to run for office. Having money seems to make people think their opinions are important. The most foolish even think their opinions are good. I was among the later. Living so long had begun to make me think I was special and important. I wasn’t wrong, only mistaken in how I interpreted my importance. I was only as important as a lab rat. I was bored and rich so I decided to get on the city council of a small town in Oklahoma. I never cared much for Oklahoma. It’s too much like Texas except it has lower property taxes. Which is why I chose Oklahoma. Staying thirty-five requires one to move around a lot or one has to begin answering questions one doesn’t want to answer. I needed a lot of land to keep any nosy neighbors away too and for the amount of land I needed Texas would have charged me through the nose in tax, even if the land was worthless desert. If there is a secret you want to keep it’s invariable that your neighbor will be a Mrs. Grundy. Mrs Grudys are know to have high powered telescopes if a house is too far away so I made sure mine was surrounded by trees. At least by the windows.
I was elected easily. My opponent was poor and had lived his whole life in the town, Colbert I believe it was called, and had not so much as cheated on his wife. He went to church every Sunday and was well respected. There was no way he would lose an election so I had to win it. I spread a rumor that I had moved to town because my wife divorced me. Adultery and scandal are pre-requisites to winning an election. I had never cheated on my wife and never slept with another woman besides her but she had died and I did not think she would mind. That rumor was all it took for me to win.
I proceeded to slowly change the way the town was run without causing any one to notice and made sure I had other council members introduce my ideas. I talked to individual members of the council at my home, which I had built to be impressive, one at a time over a bottle of brandy, sometimes several as most politicians even small town ones are alcoholics. I would suggest ideas and slowly they would shape my idea into their own idea and take full credit for it. These ideas ranged from ground breaking like fixing potholes and improving the schools to mundane like lowering taxes and broadening the citizens’ rights to a citizen’s arrest. The last one took several bottles to convince the council it was a good idea. I really was curious how that would work out.
In no time at all the small town of Colbert went from a rinky-dink town to a thriving community. The streets were the best in the state; the schools had a one hundred percent graduation rate and some of the highest A.C.T. scores in the nation. The taxes were low and used as god intended (only 5% was for corruption). Citizens took pride in their town. They showed it by arresting any and everyone for anything they did not like. Most of these were simple misdemeanors like littering or speeding but some were interesting like one man who arrested his neighbor at gun point for sleeping with his wife. Adultery was still a crime on the books. The police chief asked us what to do about it so the council decided that an eye for an eye was a good idea. We consulted with the lecherous man’s wife and found out that she had an eye for the poor man with the cheating wife. I don’t have to say what happened from there you get the idea. This turned out to be a great idea as it had unimaginable effects. Because after the local paper printed this story, the rate of divorce dropped to almost zero, men who had gone to bars after work and neglected their wives began going straight home and going to church on Sunday. No one wanted to suffer a similar fate. The two couples involved had a happy ending that was also unexpected. They both divorced and married each others spouse. Before they had hated each other. The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s had been better neighbors then they had but after the new marriages the couples became the best of friends.
Needless to say crime became almost unheard of. Several police officers were arrested for speeding in their police cruisers and one was arrested for disturbing the peace when he turned his siren on in a neighborhood after dark. He was attempting to stop a man whose tag light was out. The problem with this was the man he was pulling over was me. Once this officer realized I was a city council member he was going to let me go with a warning. That was the last straw and I believe the officer could tell that by the look on my face. I was not going to tolerate special treatment, even though I was flattered. I had the officer write himself a ticket. After this incident every police officer on the force began writing tickets for everything, no more warnings. If a police officer stopped someone it was for a good and legitimate reason. Warnings such as would have been given for failure to use a blinker were mailed to the individual.
Two years after I had been elected the town of Colbert swelled from four thousand people to six thousand and to eight thousand in the next year.This was mostly due to the fact that I had sever friends from past ventures with businesses looking to expand and I convinced the council it was in the best interest to give tax incentives for these businesses to move here. What I did not mention was that all the land the new industrial and business buildings were to be built on were owned by me through a series of shell companies. I charged a little over fair value unlike most politicians who i would have charged ten times the value of the land or more if they could. I simply did not want to own the land anymore and was ready to cash out. I made about three times my original investment in the land. I only owned it for five or six years.
It was at this time that the members of the city council began to dislike me for not contributing to the improvement to the town. They said I was a slacker and that if I could not come up with any good ideas like theirs I should step down and let someone who would have my seat. So I did and the man I had beat to win the seat joined the city council.
This left a bad taste in my mouth as all these ideas they were so proud of were my ideas and with all the ideas working out so great I was beginning to want some credit. But I did the adult thing and when I stepped down the council threw a party for me and I proceeded to get drunk and let everyone know what I thought of them. The best way to tell the truth and insult someone is to say it in a way that makes them think you are lying. I insulted them all with harsh words I won’t repeat but they all thought I was kidding even though I was simply telling them the truth. Politicians lie so much they do not know what the truth looks like.
It was around this time I got my first visit from the N.S.A. in almost twenty sweet years. Apparently, I was the only one from the Methuselah project that was still alive. I had not thought about it. There were not very many of us to start with and the only time my long life crossed my mind was when I had to move or when I was out of cigarettes. I tried not to think too hard about my past. I’d had lots of great times but reminiscing about those inevitably lead to remembering the bad. My dad told me, “Son, I can’t afford the good times and I damn sure can’t pay for the bad.” I have never forgoten that and I never will because of that statement I decided I would never live a life where that statement applied to me.