Ever since our courtship days, Rumpole and I have held differing political views, and have argued with considerable passion about our view-points during the past 32 years of our relationship as a couple. He considers himself a Liberal with strong Conservative tendencies. I have been a life-long Socialist with some Liberal leanings. Whenever Rumpole gets frustrated with me during one of our many political disagreements he resorts to calling me a Pinko and adds “your father brought you out into freedom from a Communist country… you must be a huge disappointment to him with your Pinko ideas!”
It is a source of wonder to me that our 30 year old marriage has endured through a number of Provincial and Federal elections. The campaign periods leading up to these elections were times when our relationship was amply and discordantly spiced with our differing opinions on issues debated, quality of candidates’ debates and election outcomes.
“How are you going to vote this time?” became a question we asked each other prior to going to the voting stations. In the early days of our marriage we both believed that candour and transparency about our beliefs and actions was the best policy, and we ended up in some lengthy and vociferous arguments. This certainly provided showers of sparks that ignited some fiery discussions and strong attempts to convince each other with eloquent reasonings to see the error of our individual philosophies. Rumpole really learned how to argue when he was in Law School, and he firmly believed that if he presented me with logically structured and refined arguments he would eventually convince me to acknowledge the flaws in my reasonings and thus bring me around to his point of view. I soon learned to dig in my heels and concentrate on finding the weaknesses in his convoluted and convincing verbal barrages. This always caused the temperature of our exchanges to escalate. Boy, did we ever argue, nit-picking fine points and bringing articles from newspapers and references to details of political platforms to provide ammunition for our verbal salvoes.
Later during our marriage we learned to agree to disagree. However, in typical passive/aggressive fashion I began to be subversive in small ways to remind him that I still held my beliefs. Before one Provincial election the Premier seeking re-election was a right winger. Rumpole’s law firm decided to attend a fundraising dinner during which the Premier, then the local candidate, would make rousing speeches to whip up the fervour of the attendees. All the lawyers and their wives were expected to show up, decked out in appropriate formal dress. Rumpole encouraged me to buy a new formal dress so I would be properly attired for the occasion. On principle, I decided that the occasion did not warrant me to buy new duds; I would never want to wear that particular dress again because of unpleasant associations related to its wearing. After conferring with a friend as to how to deal with this little problem, we came up with a solution.
She had a khaki silk knee-length dress, with a little Mao collar, long sleeves and slits at both sides of the hem, like a Chinese cheong-sam. It had a subtle, military tailoring and best of all, it fit me! I had simple carmine sandals that worked with it perfectly and provided just the right communist touch. When I modelled the outfit to Rumpole at home, being a quick study he caught on to my intention right away and said “What are you thinking of? Surely you won’t have the nerve to go to the dinner in THAT?” I replied with – “well, since I can’t get out of being at that dinner, I will wear what I feel comfortable in, and besides which the outfit didn’t cost a dime!” Ever practical, he shrugged and assented. But I knew, that sometime later, he would get even in a manner I could never anticipate.
Fast forward to the fundraiser dinner. The crowd was elegant, all a-twitter with excitement of meeting The Big Man. Men in formal suits, women in long flowing formal gowns (except for Stepford Wife, who looked like a little khaki drab bird) Rumpole’s partner was aghast and suggested that Rumpole should have controlled me better and made sure that I “blended in more and looked less severe”, and rumbled about me having “Pinko attitudes”. Score one for the Pinkos!
A few years later during a Federal election, the Senior partner contested the local Liberal running position. For his campaign speech he decided to get creative and ask all the company wives and secretaries to dress up as cheerleaders with pom-poms and back up his politicking speech with a little cheer-leader performance. It was my turn to be aghast, and I declined firmly this oppportunity to hit the stage and become part of a ridiculous spectacle. I secretly hoped he would lose the nomination and he did. The man selected for the running position was someone Rumpole respected, and he agreed to be that candidate’s campaign organizer. And now he took his opportunity to get even with me. He volunteered me to design and print all the election signage. “You owe me this after your act of rebellion with the Pinko outfit at that fundraiser!” he insisted. “Okay, but you have to actually help me print all those hundreds of lawn signs and all the big road signs, and you have to get your guy to okay the budget needed for all the supplies. And, you will have to get me helpers to do all of the printing and screen cleaning” I demanded.
I was not too thrilled to be volunteered for this task, but immediately buckled down and ordered the screens, inks, squeegees, paper tape, Coroplast and stencil material. It was a massive undertaking that took two weeks to finish, with unreliable helpers, static problems with the ink, and a whining Rumpole reluctantly learning how to clean screens and carping on about how he couldn’t get all the ink off his skin no matter how he tried. “How can I meet with clients with my hands showing all this red stuff ? he complained. “Well, you could make some reference or other to Shylock. Or make a quip about being caught red-handed!” I responded, not at all sympathetic. Feh! I lived and breathed silk-screen ink and solvents for two weeks, looked very glamorous with red ink residue on my hands and arms, and crawled into bed each night sore and exhausted after working flat out for 16 hour days during this “little ” project. After the signs were delivered, Rumpole admitted that had he known what a major chore this was he would never have volunteered me for the job. Hah! Score a big one for the Liberals!
As we have aged, we have become rather less argumentative about politics. Neither of us march off in a huff during disagreements and our debates have gentled to a truly civilized level. Also, both of us have learned to adopt ideas that make sense, no matter what political party they originate from and we are less dogmatic and extreme in our beliefs.
This is a huge relief! It also is a sign of our ageing.