IF YOU HAVEN'T done so already, you should start planning how you’ll spend the next 11 months of your life, unless you’re traveling to Mars or someplace where the news media won’t be covering the presidential election. On Mars, for example, you’d be less interested in politics and more concerned about the weather, since an unexpected storm last summer separated Matt Damon from his crew. It also separated several million dollars from Americans who went to see The Martian, but it was totally worth it. As opposed to Matt Damon’s other space movie, Interstellar, which was interawful and had patrons screaming for their money back. (Spoiler alert: It finally ends.)
But for those of us trapped here on Earth, there are probably only three ways to separate ourselves from the incessant noise of a presidential election year:
1. Sell all your possessions and give to the poor, then follow maybe some guy named Rev. Richard or something who lives in a bunker with lots of canned goods. Wait, that’s wrong. Sorry, I spilled some coffee on the last part of Matthew 19 and I was just guessing the rest. So forget that one.
2. Join a monastery. Trappist is always a good choice, as long as you love gardening and thinking for long stretches of time (never tried it myself) and don’t mind wearing a long cassock. Although underneath you can wear whatever you want. (You could walk around in purple bike shorts, with a gaudy corporate logo, because who’s gonna know? And they don’t check.) Monasteries are good places to be in the world but not of it, or the other way around, if that works better for you.
3. Or do what I do: Obtain a granddaughter, 5-ish, who will keep you grounded, literally. You’ll spend most of the year on the floor, helping her assemble Lego’s Enchanted Mountain Ice Castle from Frozen, in various shades of Disney pink, much of that time looking for a tiny little part, like the hinge to the door of the Magic Fairy Unicorn Corral. After an hour of fruitless searching you will swear it has not been lost but was, in fact, not packed at the factory, a deliberate omission prompted by that well-known Scandinavian sense of humor. I can just picture the factory workers in Denmark, holding up the missing piece and laughing at their cleverness, then awkwardly exchanging Danish high-fives (blonde people just look silly when they do that). Meanwhile, back in the U.S., you want to shove something up their ümlaut.
BUT AT LEAST you won’t be thinking about Hillary’s email, or the fact that Bernie Sanders doesn’t own a comb (for gosh sakes, get a hat!), or that when Donald Trump builds his wall he will be hiring only American corporations, which rules out the Lego company, even though they just developed industrial-grade blocks that have proven to keep out foreign-born unicorns.
With a young child in the house, you have to change your usual election-year habits. There’s no listening to NPR, because the 5-year-old will ask too many awkward questions about refugees, or take it personally when Chris Christie says he doesn’t like 5-year-olds.
You won’t be reading the newspaper, because it will be spread across the kitchen table under her latest craft project. Reading George Will is hard enough without having to tilt your head sideways to do it through fairy princess body parts made from playdough.
And don’t even think about secretly checking the news on your computer. Kids can smell an open laptop and will come running to watch cat videos.
In short, if you went with Option 3 above, just forget about politics and surrender yourself to the Disney dark side. Although, to my credit, I held the line recently against a corporate-branded birthday event. The granddaughter wanted a Frozen - themed party, but I insisted on calling it a “Condition of Water at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or Below” party. It’s my way of sticking it to The Man. [Awkward Danish high-five.]