"What is this place?" my small buttercup of a son asked me curiously as we pulled up to the gate.
"This is a gated community, son!" I explained. My son is 11 years old and apparently has never been inside one of Orange County's most beloved inventions. I am clearly doing something right.
We were there—at whichever amalgamation of the words "park," "acres" and "estates" that particular gated community happened to comprise—for a Teachers for Westly event, mostly because it was a Tuesday evening, and on Tuesday evenings I help out around Weekly HQ. Any reason to get out of the office would have sufficed: I would have shown up if I'd been invited to a seminar on dental health or a gab and grab with the governor. Oh, who'm I kidding? Especially a gab and grab with the governor!
Steve Westly, for the 29,998,780 of you who don't know, is our state controller. He is running for governor. He is a wee, small man, and he needs caps on his kind of shardy, ocher teeth, and he helped found eBay. I would be reminded of this rather quickly when one of the Democrats in attendance said jovially to my boy, "It's probably the first time you'll get to meet a real billionaire!" ("Only maybe half a billion," demurred one of the young Dem lawyers who'd organized the event.) Ah. This is how Democrats do it in the OC.
I would have dulled my horror with a quick shot, but I'm sober now so I just smiled, though painedly. How'm I supposed to teach my child proper class warfare with that kind of attitude? He's already a bit fancy, with his taste for caviar, love of Riviera parties and completely unironic desire to possess necklaces with his name in four-inch letters of solid gold. Also, he wants a McMansion—and now, probably, in a gated community! Thanks a lot, OC Dems!
And by the way, you have terrible hair!
* * *
It was a very nice party, with sandwiches and such. I'm a big fan of sandwiches. Steve Westly? Well, he's no state Treasurer Phil Angelides(who's wonky and adorable and is also running for governor), but I figured it was only fair to give him a listen, despite all the lawyers who kept nodding about how important it was to nominate a "pro-business" Democrat. You want a pro-business Democrat? I would remind you that we had one until quite recently. His name was Gray Davis, or, as I like to call him, Exhibit A.
There was a short lull where I had to actually talk to people, so I cornered Bill Hunt, who's running for sheriff against Ralph Martin (some guy from the LA sheriff's office) and Mike Carona (everyone's favorite sexy gladhander), and asked him excellent questions such as, "If the guys from OC Blog knew you were here, you'd be toast." Then I asked him, "You know, I hear good things about Ralph Martin!" Hunt tried to stump me with his answer to that one: "If you don't care that he doesn't know Orange County."
"He lives in Orange County!" I riposted.
"Well, if you consider Coto de Caza 'Orange County,'" riposted he back.
"Actually, it's probably the ne plus ultra Orange County, if you think about it," riposted I cubed. And it is. A whole gated town! Perhaps my son will take me in when I'm old and living on Meow Mix and he's living the Caza life in his tract home fashioned from solid gold.
You know: with his name on it.
Then my son wanted to know if Hunt, who's much more attractive and less gangly in person than in his campaign pix, was married. My son is always trying to pimp me out, asking me leading questions like, "Did you think the parking lot attendant was handsome, Mom?" and "Do you think you look fat in your bathing suit?"
* * *
Westly ran into the room of about 30 bystanders, the better to showcase the Ed Grimley energy his consultants must have recommended, and began his education stump speech. He was reasonably progressive, for a pro-business Democrat, and in certain cases very progressive, unapologetically taking positions for which John & Kenwill doubtless flay him, probably about 14 minutes from . . . now. Of course, with the crowd he stood before (on the stairs; like I said, he's kind of shrimpy), there was no reason to apologize for confirming to us that illegal alien kids who've grown up here and gone to high school here should pay in-state tuition at our state colleges—the current mangy, rabid lather of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform floozies. If he'd given any other answer than "AB-SO-LUTELY" to the Latino guy who longwindedly stated his support for the law as it now stands (i.e., undocumented kids who've at least gone to high school here are considered state residents), we probably would have pelted him with the grapes from the table.
Still, it was all a bit annoying. I swear the man positively lisped with sincerity as he cocked his head and made doe eyes to the room about how education is so important because he was a child with . . . dyslexia! It would probably eke out a victory over "broke a leg" and "dead grandmother" in The Apprentice home game of beating you over the head with the obstacles they've overcome, but so what? You're dyslexic, dude. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to overcome being Arnold Schwarzenegger.
* * *
On the way home, I called my favorite teacher, the one whose students' standardized test scores go up an average of 70 percent after she beats some sense into 'em: Commie Mom. "Hey, Jimmy and I are just coming from a Teachers for Westly event!" I told her.
"I hate that little fucking creep!" she murmured gently.
I explained: he wasn't creepy per se—well, he sort of was, but only because he was so fucking sincere—but he seemed nice enough, I guess, nicer than Schwarzenegger, anyway, though he did partner up with him on those stupid ballot measures (way to fire up your base, Steve!) and though he's still no Phil Angelides—especially since Angelides tops six feet. I called his press guy and asked.
* * *
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The next night, my son and I were all set to go to a California Coalition for Immigration Reform meeting. "They're weirdoes who hate Mexican people," I explained. "It'll be fun!"
"But I don't hate Mexican people!" my son said, kinda all freaked out. "I like Mexican people! Do we have to go hang out with the weirdoes?"
"No, son, we don't!" I decided. I don't help out in the office on Wednesdays.