24. Rivendell Nine to Five: 4
Grandpa has had enough of Mirkwood. He's scheduled to stay until January 3rd, but I don't think he'll make it that long. He's already complaining that he wants to go home. Tomorrow.
Thranduil is, of course, disappointed. He had this big idea in mind that he could get grandpa to do all kinds of amazing things, like skiing and winter camping and badminton at the court club and helping decide what kind of new garage door to buy. Never mind that grandpa is no good at all of those things; he never participates in sports or recreational activities, and he's had the same ugly garage door since forever.
So Legolas and I have decided that Thranduil needs a new friend, now that Glorfindel has moved to Valinor and he doesn't have anybody to pester any more. Somebody who likes outdoorsy things, like hunting and camping and garage hardware. Unfortunately, I don't know anybody like that, and neither does Legolas. We were considering the eventuality that we might have to hold auditions for Thranduil's new buddy when Elrohir suggested Haldir. We evaluated the possibility.
Haldir lives on the outskirts of Caras Galadhon in a heavily wooded area. He likes monster trucks. He likes fixing things. He likes watching sports on telly, which means he might like doing sporting activities himself. He owns a rifle. He's not gay. He rarely has an opinion, never expresses political views, and, as a customs agent, is surely used to putting up with a lot of crap from loud people. Perfect. While Thranduil was busy trying to interest grandpa in a walk over to the civic centre, we snuck into his office to ring Haldir. Only we didn't know Haldir's number, so we had to try Orophin first.
Of course we were shocked to learn from Orophin that Haldir has been in the hospital for over a week, due to a construction accident of sorts. He didn't go into any details. So on the one hand, I now feel sorry for Haldir being in the hospital. But on the other, this is a perfect excuse for leaving Mirkwood. I have to admit: I want out of here, too. I had a quick conference with Elrohir and Legolas, and we decided that using Haldir's hospital stay as an excuse to take off for Lothlórien as soon as possible would be the best course of action. Legolas wants to come along with us. I'm starting to suspect that he dislikes this place as much as I do. He always seems to want to be somewhere else.
The first part of our plan is to hitch a ride with grandpa, and then somehow take a bus or train to be back here in time for our flights home. The second part of our plan is to somehow convince Thranduil to come with us on this road trip adventure, so he can meet Haldir and they can be best pals until the end of the world (or until one of them moves to Aman, whichever comes first). I hope he falls for our clever ploy. We're going to tell him that grandpa is far more likely to do sporty outdoors things in his own natural habitat.
Thranduil was remarkably easy to convince. We didn't even need our clever ploy. Last night, Legolas said we were wanting to go to Lórien to visit a friend in the hospital, and did he want to come along? He said yes right away, and went off to pack. I think he just likes being included in plans, and would probably have agreed to go to a forced labour camp in Mordor if that's where we were headed. He doesn't get out enough. We're doing the right thing by introducing him to Haldir.
So we're all on our merry way to Lórien in grandpa's new Acura. Grandpa's driving, I'm in the front, and Elrohir, Legolas and Thranduil are in the back. Thranduil made a fuss about it, but the hard truth is that he's the smallest, so he has to have the middle seat on the bump. That's just the way the road trip goes, and how road trips have always gone, since the beginning of time. Big people get first choice. Those of us who might be enhancing the truth to call ourselves 5'8" get the seatbelt that never works properly.
Now I just have to figure out whether or not it's an insult that I'm in the front. I would LIKE to think that I was allowed this seat out of respect, being the Prime Minister of Rivendell and all, but something tells me that if Thranduil, King of Mirkwood, still gets the worst spot in the car, then I'm not up here for any political reasons. I've spent a while so far having a critical look at myself. As much of myself as I can see while sitting in a car without a mirror, I mean, so really I've spent a while having a critical look at my upper legs and midsection. The more I look, the more I start to convince myself that maybe I'm gaining weight. Not too much, I don't think, but enough to make me look sort of like dad. Which is a scary thought. I'm going to have to take a closer, more serious look at myself when I next get to a full-length mirror. Being dad-size already makes me fear for my future. My love life was pathetic enough when I was a thin and vaguely athletic university student; I can't possibly see it improving if I get fat and dad-like.
And I would mention the name of the person I have in mind for the improvement of said love life, only I have a sneaking suspicion that Thranduil is leaning over my shoulder right now and reading everything I type. He should mind his own damn business and play "bigger than, smaller than" and other inane car games with Elrohir and Legolas.
I blame an activity-free desk job and the distressingly delicious cafeteria dinner buffet for my predicament, and I'm sure the problem was only exacerbated by the holiday season of plentiful cookies. Now that I think about it, I'm sure this weight-gaining has been going on for some time. Nobody has mistaken me for Elrohir or Elrohir for me in a long while. I know this could probably be due to our opposite clothing styles most of the time, but when we're in pyjamas or snowsuits, it would be nice to know we still look enough alike. I might have to study Elrohir in a full-length mirror, too, as we stand side by each, to get an idea of how I SHOULD look.
Elrohir just said my pants are bigger than a raccoon. I have to go on a diet.
We finally reached Caras Galadhon this afternoon, after a long and arduous journey. It started snowing just as we reached the western edge of Mirkwood, and within twenty minutes we were in the middle of a first class blizzard. I could barely see the road, and grandpa, who hates driving in light rain, started to get panicky. We had to keep insisting that no, we couldn't just stop in the middle of the motorway. He didn't want to keep on driving, but he also refused to let anyone else drive his car, so we were stuck as grandpa slogged along at thirty kilometres per hour, watching desperately for a place to stop.
After an hour and a half of this nonsense, we miraculously ended up in the car park of the Country Rose Inn, in some dinky town called Rosedale or Rosevale or something like that. The blizzard was still going strong. Grandpa said, "We're staying here tonight," and something in the tone of his voice discouraged argument. A unanimous decision that we would spend the night at the Country Rose Inn was quickly reached. This is how the joke goes:
The Chancellor of Lothlórien, the Prime Minister of Rivendell, and the King of Mirkwood all walk into a seedy motel in the middle of nowhere...
"Sorry fellows," says the desk clerk, "but we're all full tonight due to the blizzard and so many cars pulling off the motorway. All we have left is one room in the basement that hasn't been used in fifty years, and you don't want that one because..."
I never got to find out why we didn't want the room or how the joke was supposed to end, because grandpa said, "We'll take it." The desk clerk shrugged, took an ominous-looking key down from the highest peg, and led the way down a dank concrete stairwell toward what sounded like the boiler room. The room we didn't want was right next door. And it looked like the clerk was right about it not having been used in fifty years; there was an impressive layer of dust on the knob. But he unlocked the door, flipped on the lights, and said, "It's all yours."
Now, compared to Thranduil's place in Mirkwood, a cheap motel room that hasn't been used in fifty years is no hardship. Grandpa smiled brightly at the wall and said, "Look, boys, a thermostat!" I went into the bathroom and said, "Hot running water!" Elrohir took off his shoes and said, "Carpet!" Thranduil looked at the electrical outlet and said, "What the hell? How am I supposed to plug in my hair dryer?!" Legolas said, "I told you this place would have the same plugs as Lórien."
We unpacked our things and ate a few granola bars for supper, since that was the only food we had with us and the motel pub was already closed. It was an unsatisfactory meal. I'm still hungry. But after granola bars came the big debate of who had to share a bed with whom. There are two saggy-looking queen-size beds in our room, and the road trip seating rule doesn't apply to bed sharing, unfortunately. The rule of bed sharing clearly states that the oldest sharers get first dibs. Therefore grandpa and Thranduil are sharing one bed, and Elrohir, Legolas and I have to squish into the second. Which I think is highly unfair.
It's not that I really mind the situation, but knowing Elrohir, he'll probably situate himself in the middle, so as to cause maximum havoc. He's inconsiderate like that.
I woke up early this morning, clinging to Legolas in the saggy valley in the middle of our bed. Elrohir was missing. I had to remove Legolas' arms from around my middle before I found him, curled up in a nest on the floor. He'd stolen all our blankets and lumpy foam pillows. I threw a road map at him (the first thing I could grab from the bedside table), and asked what in Arda he thought he was doing. He whined that the bed dipped too much in the middle (his own stupid fault for choosing to sleep there!), and Legolas and I kept sliding inward and squishing him. So he gathered up all the blankets and went to sleep on the floor.
I got out of bed, took back most of the blankets (meaning I took back two, because there were only three in the first place), kicked Elrohir in the bum for good measure, and climbed back into bed to make a cocoon with Legolas. I tried to do this all without Legolas waking up, but the bed dipped too much when I went to lie down, and he sort of flopped inward and bonked his nose on my elbow. After that he was distant and grumpy and in no mood for a cocoon, even though I tried to apologise and point out how it clearly wasn't my fault that the bed sagged. He got up and went to have a shower. Hotel and motel rooms must be a curse for me.
The five of us split three remaining granola bars for breakfast, because the motel pub didn't open until two. We left as soon as possible to find a breakfast restaurant, or at least a truck stop. I can't live on granola bars. Neither can grandpa. He's a very picky eater, and not having the right kind of food at the right time makes him ornery. He drove down the highway with narrowed eyes and dangerously thin lips. Thranduil was also grumpy and silent, though his reason was because his pillow had been too lumpy and thin and grandpa had refused to switch with him.
The only restaurant we could find was a Husky House truck stop half an hour away, at a place ominously called "Dead Man's Flats". A Point of Interest road sign told us that this was where Isildur was killed. By this time Thranduil had cheered up some, and wanted to get out and take pictures, but everyone else was still too grumpy and hungry. We parked at the Husky House, ate greasy eggs and bacon, and were back in the car within forty minutes. Thranduil had to settle for taking a picture of some trucker Dwarves filling up at the Cardlock pumps.
We arrived safely (more or less) at grandpa's house several hours later, just in time to be told we were too late for supper and now had to wait until the news was over before he could fix us anything to eat. It was Elrohir's fault. He was the one who was reading with the window open, and his comic book flew right out as we drove up to the city limits. It took us half an hour to find the stupid thing in the ditch, but Elrohir wouldn't stop looking, even after Legolas offered to give him $10 to buy a new comic.
At 7.30 grandpa grudgingly made us frozen rising-crust pizza and tea. Thranduil made a big fuss over saying how much he had been looking forward to a good old-fashioned home-cooked family meal, which might explain why his pizza quarter was smaller than everyone else's. I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut and not complain. Elrohir did one better and thanked grandpa for the delicious pizza, so he got a bowl of ice cream for dessert. Then we were all told to get to bed immediately, because grandpa's sleeping schedule had been thrown off by the long drive and the motel room and he needed to get back on track.
Legolas went to his allotted room to watch television, and I decided to go with him. Elrohir and Thranduil opted to stay in the kitchen to make enchiladas. I briefly tried telling them that this wouldn't be a good idea, but gave up halfway through describing the mess it would make. They weren't listening, as usual, and Elrohir had already started mixing up some concoction of tinned beans and tomato paste.
Orophin took Elrohir, Legolas and me to visit Haldir in the hospital this morning. We left Thranduil behind with grandpa, since Orophin warned that Haldir has been in a bad mood since his accident, and we didn't want Thranduil's chances of having a new best friend ruined. We'll scope out the situation today, and if all is well, maybe bring Thranduil to meet Haldir next week.
Elrohir is convinced that being in the hospital over the holidays is one of the saddest things in the world, and I'd have to agree with him. The half-arsed tinsel and plastic holly adorning the fluorescent-lit corridors only serve to make the place look depressing, not festive, and the "Happy New Year" banner above the information desk sure wasn't making anybody any happier. Actually I think it was mocking us. It made me want to leave as soon as I walked through the door. I almost did leave when I saw a forlorn child with a broken leg, dejectedly struggling toward the empty visiting lounge in his oversized wheelchair. Elrohir started crying and bought the boy a bag of Doritos. Then we had to sit with him and listen to stories about his cat before two colliding nurses caused a distraction and we could slip away to the lifts.
Haldir was on the fourth floor, in what I think must have been the comical injuries ward. We quickly learned that he had fallen out of a tree while trying to hang a whirligig, and landed squarely on his bum, on top of a small stump. According to Orophin, he has a perfectly round bruise on his broken tailbone. One roommate was a sulking youth who had managed to set fire to his eyebrows, and the other was an surly-looking older gentleman who refused to tell either us or his wife why he was there, and shouted at us all not to look while the nurse poked and prodded at his groin and asked him if it still hurt.
Haldir whined so much when it was time for his tailbone to be examined that Elrohir promised to buy him a vending machine snack if he would only shut up. Elrohir left, and came back five minutes later with no snack. He had given it to another kid in a wheelchair and had no more change for the machines. Haldir went a bit psycho (probably more from the pain of having his bum mauled by a humourless nurse than disappointment over a lost chocolate bar) and yelled that he hated kids in wheelchairs. This made the nurse glare at him, and I'm sure it was her doing that the tinned peaches were absent from his dinner tray and he had no sugar for his tea.
On our way out, Elrohir and I debated going to the gift shop to get flowers for Haldir, but ultimately decided that he didn't deserve any. We are spending the money on Nandorin takeaway for supper tonight instead. I'll get him a cheapo gift from the Giant Tiger tomorrow. Maybe one of those inflatable ring seats to sit on once he gets out of the hospital.
When Orophin dropped us back at grandpa's place he told us that Rúmil is cooking some fancy New Year's supper tomorrow night and we're invited. I said I'd think about it. I was sort of surprised to hear that Rúmil was back in town; I hadn't thought about him much since I left the Grey Havens, and I guess I just assumed he was still there. But Orophin assured me that he was back and living in a crummy flat in a bad neighbourhood, and that he was cooking a big supper.
I don't really know if I feel up to going. On the one hand, I could easily live without seeing Rúmil ever again. On the other, he is a really good cook. On the one hand, it would be beyond awkward to have to visit with him. On the other, grandpa and Thranduil are going to some fancy party thing at the press club, and they'd probably drag me along if given half a chance. I'll have to see what Legolas says. Maybe if he's there to distract me it won't be so bad.
December 31st (or January 1st, technically, since it's after midnight)
What Orophin neglected to tell me is that Rúmil and Aerthos were making supper, that they moved to Lórien together and were living together in a crummy flat in a bad neighbourhood. I was very sorry I had borrowed grandpa's car to be the designated driver. Otherwise, I would've turned right around and gone back to grandpa's to risk being dragged to the press club.
Thus I got to spend a painfully awkward evening with Legolas, Elrohir, Orophin, Orophin's girlfriend, their baby, my ex-boyfriend, and his new lover. The food was good, but not worth the hassle. I dropped a pork roll on my best trousers and it left an oily stain. Aerthos avoided talking to me all night. Whenever Elrohir began to mention something about the Grey Havens, Rúmil quickly changed the subject. Orophin's girlfriend looked exhausted, probably because of the baby yelling and grabbing her hair, and added nothing to the conversation.
The only thing that made the evening not a complete disaster was Legolas. Aerthos said nothing, not even a mumbly snide remark, but I could see him sneaking looks at us every few minutes, obviously wondering if we were together. I said nothing to indicate we were, and neither did Legolas, but I did do my best to sit by him and touch him on the shoulder or arm as often as possible in an effort to give Aerthos the wrong idea. He looked upset by the possibility. Maybe because Legolas is much hotter than he is. And doesn't live in a crummy flat in a bad neighbourhood. Ha!
Orophin, Elrohir, and Rúmil did most of the talking. Orophin talked about diapers, Elrohir talked all about a new Burger King commercial he's going to be in and how his agent got him an audition for an as-yet-unnamed major network mystery show (this was the first I'd heard about either of these things, and even that he has an agent!), and Rúmil talked about his new job at the Sears perfume counter. He mentioned with a sigh that his income was the only thing paying the rent and buying food, since Aerthos was writing a book and not working. Aerthos glared and retorted that at least he was doing something worthwhile with his life instead of flogging smelly liquid at a second-rate mall. I think their relationship may be doomed.
Rúmil also made a dessert, which was some odd gloopy rice-based substance with lychee sauce. It tasted a bit burnt, but from the way he congratulated himself on his job well done (apparently it was very complicated to make), I think it was supposed to be like that. Aerthos made coffee while Rúmil was doing the washing up afterward. It seemed like a nice gesture until Rúmil saw us using the milk and sugar, and had a small breakdown. He accused Aerthos of taking his work sugar. Then he grabbed back the sugar Tupperware, leaving those of us who hadn't used it yet with plain black coffee. That was almost as unpleasant as the tense atmosphere afterward. Rúmil started making pointed little remarks about money again.
I'm not sure what compelled me to casually say at this point that I'm the Prime Minister of Rivendell and recently bought a new car. Probably Rúmil's torturous whining and sighing. The mention of my extravagant lifestyle made Rúmil whine that he wished he had a car instead of a cheap single-zone bus pass, and made Aerthos grumble under his breath that I only got to where I am through inheritance and favouritism. I told him to stick a cork up his arse. He didn't reply, being unwilling to speak to me, but Rúmil did put on his sharp voice and ask us to leave. I was glad to get kicked out. It gave Legolas the opportunity to get all offended and glare at Rúmil and Aerthos on my behalf. He patted my shoulder as we walked back to the car and said, "It's okay, they wouldn't know a good Prime Minister like you if it was on fire inside every magazine in the world." Which made absolutely no sense, but was a nice sentiment all the same.
We came back home and welcomed the new year with cider from a plastic bottle while watching the countdown live on television. Elrohir said, "Shouldn't you be doing some kind of speech thing?" Which I probably should have been doing, now that I think about it. A shot of the press club was on, with grandpa and Thranduil hollering "Happy New Year!" and other encouragements. No matter what Legolas says, I think the sad truth is that I am not a good PM, on fire in a magazine or otherwise.
Spent most of today sitting around being depressed. I tried to read the newspaper, but it was full of articles about people much cleverer and far more accomplished than I, so it was a lost effort. I read one of grandpa's gardening books instead. I now know the correct definition of a tuber.
Aerthos is right. I really am a terrible political leader, and only got to where I am because I happen to be dad's most responsible heir. I don't know what I'm doing. I have no relevant experience. I spend most of my work time playing FreeCell and reading about Fëanor on Wikipedia, and then wondering why I don't have my own page on Wikipedia. Most of all, I don't really want my job. The more I think about how unqualified I am, the more I'm convinced that the only decent thing to do would be to ring Lindir the minute I'm back in Rivendell and resign. I could save myself a lot of embarrassment and the government a lot of mismanagement by doing that.
The only fun thing that happened all day was that Thranduil decided to try out the fishing rod he won at the press club party last night. He tried it out off the talan and hooked the next-door neighbour's inflatable snowman, then was conveniently on the biff with a word search digest when the neighbour came over to yell at grandpa about the damage. Now that he and grandpa are no longer on speaking terms, we're taking him to visit Haldir in the hospital.
It's almost midnight, but I'm finally back in Rivendell. I am in my own bedroom, with no weirdos, no electric heat, no strange food, and no outdoor sports. I think I really, really, really like home. I have a mug of hot chocolate, and I'm going to lie in bed and watch television. Preferably for three days. Elrohir is playing Nintendo with the iguana. Everything is as it should be. I never want to go anywhere foreign ever again.
Thranduil and Haldir got along famously at the hospital yesterday. They complained about all the same things for two full hours, and by the time we had to go, Thranduil had offered Haldir a job doing some kind of security customs work in Mirkwood. Haldir said he'd consider it. Since his accident he's been wholeheartedly against the idea of continuing to live in a tree, so a cave in Mirkwood might be right up his alley. I hope he does go. If Thranduil has a friend, the likelihood of him ever wanting to have anything to do with me ever again will be very small.
The down side to never travelling is that the chance of me ever having anything to do with Legolas again will be similarly very small, but maybe I can convince him to come here for a while. If he's as big on Mirkwood as I am, that shouldn't be too tough.
Got out of bed for more than an hour today to have a bath and change my clothes. I changed into a different pair of pyjamas, but only because the other ones were getting a bit smelly, so it doesn't really count as "getting up". I also made some real food instead of cereal and soup from a tin. And I went to check on Elrohir. He'd made some sort of large nest in the middle of the television room floor and had three different video game systems hooked up. I also noticed that he'd set up the microwave on the hide-a-bed and brought up the old mini bar fridge from the basement. He was making himself nachos when I checked in and appeared to be perfectly content, so I let him be and went to ring Lindir.
I explained as professionally as I could that, as I was completely unqualified for the job and didn't have a clue what I was doing, I was resigning my position. Lindir thanked me for my honesty, and told me he was unable to accept my resignation. Apparently it's illegal for a Prime Minister to resign, or some such nonsense. He can pass the office on to someone else, be removed by way of death, incapacitation, a vote of non-confidence, or a lost election, but he cannot resign.
"Fine," I said. "I'll pass the office on to you." But Lindir sighed and informed me that I couldn't pass on the office until an election was called. Did I ever mention that, in addition to being no good at it, I also hate my job? I threatened to have a mental breakdown over the phone. Lindir said he would be over straight away.
Twenty minutes later, he was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of orange juice, explaining how our electoral system works. It sounded vaguely familiar, like something I learned back in first or second year at university. I probably should have paid more attention then. So as best as I can understand it, my situation is this: because dad passed the office on to me, I am essentially stuck in the position until the end of his term, which is coming up this year. Before the end of this December, there has to be an election. I am stuck in my job until the election is called. At that time, I can choose whether or not I want to run for office again.
I told Lindir I want an election right away. As soon as possible, so I can ditch this job. He said, "We'll put that up for discussion on Monday." I think that was his polite way of saying he didn't want to think about work until the holidays were truly over. Not that I can blame him; I don't really want to think about work either. Preferably never again. Or maybe he just didn't want to have an important discussion with me while I was in my pyjamas.
We are having an election on May 15th! That's not nearly as soon as I'd like, but it'll have to do. I guess we need to give everybody a chance to get their political aspirations in order. There hasn't been an election here since before I was born, owing to the fact that nobody's been brave enough to want to bother running against the Great Elrond. So Lindir's predicting that this time, power-hungry maniacs and loud-mouth social reformists will be announcing themselves as candidates left and right.
This means I have only a little over four months left as PM. I can probably make it that long. If nothing else, it's four months in which I can get really good at FreeCell.
Now my only worry is how to tell dad that I'm about to become the shortest-reigning Elven leader in history. Even Maedhros was High King for more than half a year. I'm going to try to put the conversation off for as long as possible, or at least until the election process is so far along that I have no other choice but to step quietly aside.
Alright, I didn't count on the election being such a big deal. We only announced it this morning, and now it's all over the stupid news. I'm starting to worry that it might be on the Tol Eressëan news, too, and dad will see it. I'd better ring him before he does. Tomorrow, though. There's a good show I want to watch on television tonight.
Didn't phone dad today. I meant to, right when I got home from work, but then Elrohir was making a nice supper for once, and he'd rented a DVD that I wanted to watch, and then it was bed time... I will tomorrow.
Still haven't talked to dad. I keep forgetting. But tomorrow's Saturday, and that's a good phoning day. He should be at home on a Saturday. He probably wouldn't have been home if I'd telephoned today or yesterday anyhow.
I didn't ring dad today, but for a very good reason. Elrohir's in the hospital.
I knew I shouldn't have bought him a mobile for Fiommereth. I knew it would cause trouble. I didn't expect this much, but really, I should have suspected that Elrohir plus a mobile phone would inevitably lead to disaster.
He was hit by a car while walking across 1st Street downtown today. He was playing Pac Man on his mobile at the time and not paying attention. Luckily, he wasn't severely injured, but he does have a broken leg. I've been at the hospital most of today listening to him moan. He won't let the nurses give him any painkillers, either, because they insist that the first dosage has to be taken as a shot in the bum. Thereafter he can have pills. I can't see the logic behind this, unless it's to prevent fakers from taking too many drugs. So Elrohir is moaning and wailing that his leg hurts, and I have to listen to it because he's too chicken to take a needle in the backside.
He's sharing a room with a grumpy man who keeps banging on about how he's going to sue the idiots responsible for his broken elbow. The man tripped over a "Caution: Wet Floor" sign at the mall. I hope Elrohir doesn't get any similar ideas about suing the driver that hit him. It was a City of Rivendell parking enforcement car, and the government doesn't need that kind of scandal right now.
I talked to dad this morning. At first I only told him about the accident and Elrohir's leg, since I really didn't want him to find out about that over the news (not that I worry too much about Valinorean news stations running a story about an idiot in Rivendell being hit by a car while playing Pac Man, but you never know; they do weird things over there). Dad was, of course, concerned, and then had the nerve to get mad at me for not watching out for my brother! I know that Elrohir is irresponsible and airheaded. I know that he should have constant supervision. But it is just not reasonably possible for me to follow him around twenty-four hours a day, making sure he doesn't fall down open manholes or crash his skateboard into parked cars. I was at work when this happened. Which reminds me, I need to get Elrohir a really good "Get Well" gift, for having the good luck to break his leg at 10 am. I got to leave work to see him in the hospital.
As far as I'm concerned, him having a broken leg is a good thing. As long as he's on crutches, he won't be able to move very easily, and if he can't move, the probability of him wreaking havoc goes down considerably. He might destroy the house, but at least that's a contained mess.
I kept dad talking about Elrohir's broken leg for nearly an hour. Then, right when he said he had to go, I casually mentioned the election. I had been hoping he'd promise to discuss it next time we talk, and then we could both conveniently forget, but no such luck. Actually I think the news about Elrohir only made the situation worse, because he sort of exploded and started hollering at me in Quenya. This was both good, because I didn't catch everything he said, and bad, because he could have been threatening to fly right back home and murder me himself. It took another hour to remind him that there had to be an election sometime this year, and May 15th is as good a day as any.
I think he was mostly mad at me for not giving myself enough time to prepare a stunning campaign. I didn't bother to tell him that I wouldn't be running. We'll leave that conversation for another day. Preferably a day when he's not angry, or even one where he's in such a good mood that nothing will bother him. Or when he's asleep.
Four months until the election.
Elrohir came home today. I made him fishsticks for supper in honour of the great occasion. And I bought him a Game Cube, seeing as he's going to be spending a lot of time in the house over the next two months while his leg mends. Also because I owe him and his broken leg for giving me such a good excuse to skive off work, and because I don't want him to sue my city. It's an all-purpose Get Well/Thank You/Please Don't Sue gift.
In a further gesture of goodwill, I spent the four hours between supper and bed time playing Mario Kart: Double Dash. I think this also cheered him up somewhat, as my dismal performance certainly helped him win.
Elrohir saved me from a painful meeting this morning. We were discussing dull election stuff (actually everyone else was discussing and I was staring at a coffee stain on the table) when my secretary came in to say that Elrohir was on the phone, and it was an emergency.
The emergency turned out to be that we were out of dishwasher soap and he had no clean bowls. But nobody else knew that. And since I was in no hurry to go back to the meeting, I let him tell me all about the cooking adventure mess he made in the kitchen (this was why there were no clean bowls). I asked him if he needed me to come home. He said, "No, not really." I asked him if he was sure. He said, "Can you hang on a sec? I just dropped my egg salad sandwich down the stairs."
I took the fallen sandwich as a sign that I was needed at home. I explained the situation to the meeting group, though I may have made it sound more like Elrohir had fallen down the stairs instead of an egg salad sandwich, and excused myself for the afternoon. I borrowed a Zelda game from Hi-Tech on the way home. Elrohir deserved it, for being such a good excuse.
I've been ringing Elrohir all day to see if he needs me to come home for anything, but no luck. I think I'll have to go to the election meeting this afternoon.
Well, I got to tell dad the good news tonight. I'm running in the sodding election.
Lindir talked me into it. He said it would be suspicious if I just let the position go, and he's right. I have to at least look like I'm putting up some kind of token fight. And, the more I think about it, this is the better way to go. Dad would be furious at me for just giving up, but he can't really get mad if I lose a democratic election. It won't be my fault if people don't vote for me.
So I had to endure a two-hour telephone conversation of his advice on what I should do. Don't make outlandish promises. Do keep stressing the same messages. Do pretend to respect my opponents. Don't point out any flaws in the way the government has been run in the past. Do emphasise how well the city is doing. Don't admit to ever wanting to move to Valinor.
It all seems a bit overwhelming. I think I'll just do as little as possible, let Lindir handle the whole campaign, and lose without too much fanfare.
News reporters have been cruising back and forth in front of the driveway all day. There is a surreptitious A-Channel van parked behind the hedge by where we put the recycling bin. I'm afraid to open the blinds. I just know somebody will try to videotape me doing something controversial to run on the evening news. I'm going to try to stay indoors and well-hidden until May 15th.
Elrohir is in the hospital again. This time, he broke his arm.
He got a ride downtown this morning with a City TV news van. Originally they thought he was me, but upon realising their mistake, they interviewed him instead. He told them he was going to buy me a birthday present, and they gave him a ride to the mall. But on his way to the bus terminal to get home, as he struggled across Prince's Plaza on his crutches, he slipped on the icy steps and fell. Luckily, he says my present is undamaged.
But he's in a foul mood now. He can't use crutches or even a wheelchair with his broken arm, so he can't move. He'll be confined to a bed until March. I tried pointing out that at least this happened in winter, when there's nothing good happening outside, but that didn't cheer him up. Nor did the prospect of having a legitimate excuse not to shovel the driveway. In fact, all he wanted to talk about was suing the idiots in charge of keeping the ice off the steps at Prince's Plaza. I had to gently point out that this would be the responsibility of the City of Rivendell, and that I would have to take his suing the city as a personal offence against me. In the end, we agreed that I would just buy him his own plasma television and he would leave the city out of it.
It's possible that having Elrohir sue the city would bring attention to my leaderly ineptness, since if I'm unable to keep downtown ice-free I'm clearly unfit to govern. But there's also a possibility that having my brother appear on the news with a broken arm and leg would turn out a large sympathy vote. So I think it's better to play safe and do nothing at all, thus assuring that I stay in the background and well out of everyone's voting consideration.
It's my birthday, and there are three and a half months left until I lose the election.
So far, I have received: nothing. Elrohir hasn't given me my gift yet, and nobody else sent anything. We had a party at work, and I got a cake, but that doesn't count. Cake isn't a present. And all employees get cake on their birthdays, even the ones that nobody likes. Furthermore, it was on the news this morning that I am an antisocial recluse, because the news people didn't see me leave the house all Saturday. What a fantastic birthday!
I'm going to see Elrohir this evening. Being that he can neither move independently nor feed himself, he has temporarily checked in to a retirement home for disabled veterans of the Last Alliance. He rang me today at work to say that his room is across the corridor from a man who claims to have been mooned by Sauron. The company sounds dubious, but at least he's enjoying himself.
So much for not drawing attention to myself. A Global van followed me to the retirement home yesterday when I went to go check up on Elrohir and take him his new television. I didn't think they could do much damage there, but no. I was wrong. On the front page of the National Post this morning was a story about me spending my birthday visiting disabled veterans.
If that's not good publicity, I don't know what is. Cripes! Now the voting public is going to think I care! Stuff like this could hamper my not-winning-the-election strategy.
At least I got a birthday gift in the post, though. Legolas sent me a book about Doriath and some fuzzy socks.
It's lonely at home without Elrohir here to make things loud and messy. And also rather bland without him to cook inventive suppers. I'm having greasy takeaway for the third night in a row.
I'm going to have to go visit him tomorrow. He wants me to take the iguana, since the sign on the door says "Pets Welcome!", but I think that by "pets" the management means "kittens and puppies and other cuddly creatures to cheer up the veterans". Not "elongated reptiles that might trigger bad Mordor-related memories". Besides, the iguana is not of a shape that lends itself to being put in a pet carrier, and I don't fancy the idea of it roaming about the car while I drive.
The iguana pooped on the car upholstery. I'm never taking it anywhere ever again.
I also miss Elrohir for his complete willingness to clean up lizard feces.
Being alone after work is just as boring as being alone on the weekend when Elrohir's not here. I was so bored today when I got home that I telephoned, in this order: dad, Erestor, Legolas, grandpa, grandma, Arwen, Legolas again because I remembered something I forgot to tell him the first time, Glorfindel, and Legolas for a third time.
Dad was on his way out, so we only had a minute to chat. Erestor was expecting dad to come by any minute, so I only had time to tell him that I was bored before he hurried me off the phone to go make tea. Legolas didn't have much to say. I told him about Elrohir's situation, but he seemed as bored as I was, so the conversation was far from fabulous. Grandpa talked about the substandard slide projector that melted two of his holiday pictures from Mirkwood, grandma talked about the pedicure she had yesterday, and Arwen talked about the ugly new Gondorian fashion of high-waisted trousers. Legolas was a bit livelier when I rang him back to tell him about the iguana's exploits in my car. We also talked about my election strategy (nothing) and his advice thereon (to keep doing nothing). Only Glorfindel sounded really glad to hear from me.
I think he's sorry he moved to stupid Valinor. Every time I've talked to him, he's had at least one complaint about how it's changed too much (for the worse) since he left eight thousand years ago. I'm not sure why he was expecting it to be the same as he remembers from his childhood, but he's easily disappointed, and Valmar let him down. He grumped at me because they have electricity now, and most people wear regular clothes instead of their traditional pyjama outfits. He also grumped about how Aralindë is now taking her conversion far too seriously and trying too hard to be properly Vanyarin. She scolded him the other day for attempting some unconventional sex act that's technically illegal according to their religion. I didn't need to know this, but Glorfindel has always had an uncanny ability to talk at length about exactly what I don't want to hear, so I now fully understand what he tried to do, how it's illegal, and why. I do not consider myself wiser for this knowledge.
I had to talk to Legolas again after that just to keep my mind from dwelling on Glorfindel. We talked about sounds that annoy us. My most annoying sound was a mosquito hovering above my head while I'm trying to sleep; his was his mum using the broken upright to vacuum small stones out of the garage mat. And unless I'm mistaken, that's exactly what she was doing in the background as we spoke.
Legolas sent me an e-card today, of an animated bunny jumping through heart-shaped bubbles while a high-pitched MIDI of "You Are My Sunshine" played in the background. I would have been happier about it if I'd had the sense not to be checking my email as Lindir sat in the chair opposite my desk and talked at me about election stuff. He gave me a cross look and I had to close the window quickly. I hate politics.
Three months until the election.
Today was the deadline for nominations. If they all pan out, I will be running against no fewer than twenty-two opponents. Lindir was right; this city is full of lunatics all wanting in on the government action. But he's promised me that there really won't be twenty-three names on the ballot. Officials will be working this week to skim off the crazies and put forward only the worthwhile names. The final candidate listing will be announced by the end of the month.
My campaign team (I didn't know I had a campaign team; this is all news to me) came by my office after dinner to show me their different layout ideas for posters and banners. All of them looked like very standard political posters, except that I was represented by an unflattering pencil-drawn likeness, since we've not taken any official campaign photographs yet. The banner had a picture of my head on the left side and the words "Tradition and Innovation" floating over monochrome crests of the House of Finwë and the House of Elwë. The ad managers must be trying to play up my prestigious heritage. Probably because there's nothing else appealing about me. One poster had a drawing of me standing between drawings of grandpa and Aragorn with the phrase "Global Integrity" splashed across our torsos, and the other was a drawing of me in the middle of a crowd of shapeless blobs, gesturing to the words "Community Commitment". I thought they were utter crap. So I gave the thumbs up, and we're taking pictures tomorrow. I need some ridiculous posters to make up for the birthday fiasco at the veterans' home.
It took all day yesterday, from nine in the morning until after eight at night, to take pictures for three stupid campaign advertisements. I got to miss work, but I also had to miss sitting around all day in my comfortable office, checking email and playing FreeCell.
First of all, it took two hours for the makeup, hair, and wardrobe people to agree that I was fit to be photographed. My face felt like it was covered in a stiff mask of goop and powder, my hair was shellacked down in a helmet of tidy plaits, and the suit they put me in was snug and itchy. Then, once I was ready, I had to wait around while the crew set up their cameras and lights. That took another hour. At least there was a pastry tray and coffee.
The first three hundred or so pictures we took were just me standing in front of a green screen in various cheesy poses. I had to stand and grin directly at the camera, tilt my head and smile to the right, gaze off thoughtfully into the distance, and raise my chin in a competent and trustworthy way. It took far longer than I would have expected. We took pictures, had a coffee break, took more pictures, adjusted the lights, took more pictures, ate dinner, fixed my makeup, and took more pictures. At three, the man in charge said it was time to head over to the public library to take some on-location photos with an assembly of extras pretending to be adoring citizens. I had to ride in a van with the chief photographer and her assistant. They discussed ways to make me look better on camera, as if I weren't there.
The adoring citizens were assembled at the coffee-and-donuts table when I arrived. It was ridiculously cold and windy outside, but my shellacked helmet hair stayed magically in place. I had a donut. I waited for the crew to finish setting up the lights and reflective discs. I had some coffee and another donut. The adoring citizens stared at me. My left armpit was itching like mad from the stupid suit, but I didn't dare scratch it with all those people watching. Finally, at twenty to five, the citizens were herded into place and I was made to stand in front of them, shaking hands with an Avarin woman as I handed her some sort of fake award plaque. Why a community awards ceremony would take place outside in front of a library in the middle of February is beyond me, but the campaign managers seemed to think the tableau looked good.
We took photos in slightly different poses from slightly different angles for an hour, until sunset dictated that there was no longer enough light. By that time, all the donuts were gone and the coffee was cold. We took the vans back to the studio for a union-dictated supper, which would have been much more enjoyable if I'd have been able to take off the makeup and change my clothes, but the people in charge of that were contractually forbidden from working between the hours of six and seven. I had to wait until they were done eating before a wispy, lank-haired girl used something that smelled awfully like industrial chemicals to clean off my face.
Finally, the photographers uploaded the images to a laptop, and I was able to check over our day's work. I looked like a certified moron in each and every photograph. Either my eyes were closed or half-closed, I had my mouth open stupidly, my pose appeared confused rather than thoughtful, or I was just staring blankly at the camera like an idiot. Worst of all, I looked chubby. Undeniably chubby. I know everybody says the camera adds weight, but this is getting out of hand. My pants are easily the size of a raccoon.
Something needs to be done. I have to go on a diet.