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WOSTER: The wallpaper campaign

Because I was weary of thinking about, talking about and writing about politics and elections, I spent last evening pondering the business of wallpapering.

Yes, I know it was election night. And I know elections matter. I voted. I studied the candidates and read the pamphlet with the explanations of the ballot issues. Then I voted. From time to time last evening, I interrupted my recorded programs and checked election results.

See? I wasn't apathetic about it. I was invested. I cared. By late Tuesday, though, I was tired of having it in my face. I didn't need to see victory parties and concession speeches and crowds of chanting winners and teary-eyed non-winners. Sometime in the early evening, about the time the polls were closing west of the river, I started thinking about wallpapering. That came after I spend some time thinking about election-night food during my years in the newsroom.

When I worked in news, election night meant all hands on deck. I imagine it still does, although with fewer hands. Early in the evening, before polls closed, the staff would share a meal. Sharing a meal, breaking bread together, has serious meaning. In newsrooms, that's certainly true. Some folks want sandwiches, some want burritos, some want pizza.

I never knew who was in charge of ordering our election-night food, but they couldn't possibly have received enough thanks. News people are a loud, picky, opinionated and excitable bunch when it comes to the food they want. They'll eat anything, but they have strong preferences. The meal has to sustain them through the night. Get pizza and they'll cry for sandwiches on Texas toast. Get sandwiches and someone is sure to holler, "What is this? Where's the pizza? I will be starving by 11 o'clock.''

Sometimes I think the pre-returns meal was the best part of working for a newspaper on election night. I was thinking about such meals when it occurred to me that we might make our politics a little more civil, a tad less rancorous, if the candidates in a race were required to sit down together and break bread a couple of times a week.

Maybe it would be the political equivalent of that old bit in the Foghorn Leghorn cartoons where Sam Sheepdog and Ralph Wolf punch their time clocks together. "Morning, Sam.'' "Morning, Ralph.'' Sure, they get after each other once they're on the clock, but in the down time, they're more than civil.

I spent a while pondering that concept (and remembering Foghorn's frequent, "That's a joke. I say, that's a joke, son.'') and then I turned, naturally enough, to wallpapering.

Wait a minute. It is a natural turn. I was thinking of ways candidates could be more willing to accept each other, politics aside. Nothing in the whole world forces a couple of people to accept each other more than trying to paper a wall together. I know. I've been married to the same woman for half a century, and we survived at least a dozen different wallpapering projects in our time. I think it was her dad, as handy as they come with household tasks and do-it-yourself projects, who first said, "A marriage that can survive wallpapering is one that is meant to last.''

The point is, if you're wallpapering together, you can't go off on your own. You'll smear the paste or tear the paper or — horror of horrors — get the seam crooked at the start and never, not ever, be able to straighten it out again without starting the whole wall over.

If you're wallpapering together, you'd better go easy on criticism. None of this "liberal on the paste,'' "too conservative on measuring'' stuff. People needn't be overjoyed, but wallpapering requires civility. There will come times (see above regarding a crooked seam) when both partners will be just itching to call out the other. I know from experience that won't help a thing. Wallpapering together means both of you swallow many, many comments. You learn to think before you speak and then not speak.

In the end, you have a great-looking room. Some candidates in some campaign someday should sign a pledge to try it.

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