I Was Told There Would Be Weeks Like This
Published in The Signal, 11-20-2005.

Darryl Manzer, 2005     Ever think your vote didn't matter? Did you ever write in a name because you didn't like either candidate? It looks like lots of folks were having those thoughts here in Virginia last election day.
    It has been more than a week since the election, and we Virginians still aren't sure who will be our next attorney general. Right now only 347 votes separate one candidate from the other. Of course, there will be a recount. In that race there were 1,795 voters who wrote in a name other than what was on the ballot. Had they voted for either candidate, we would be pretty sure who won. But for now — we wait.
    I hate waiting. You'd think after all my years in and around the U.S. Navy, I would be used to waiting. Nope! Never was and never will be. But there are some things I have to wait for besides the results of a political race here in Virginia.
    I have to wait for an idea for this column every week. Fortunately, you folks often provide me with fuel for my creative fires. But this week I'm still waiting. Post-election weeks can be like that. There just isn't enough controversy going on in the Santa Clarita Valley since the election.
    Of course, "way back when," controversy was if Lyons Avenue should be widened to four lanes, or the proposed high rise buildings on the ridgelines of Valencia. Even the name, "Valencia," caused much newsprint to be sent forth from The Mighty Signal, offering both pro and con to the idea.
    Way, way back when, there was even a good old feud or "range war" in Castaic. Gunfights and all that stuff were going on in the north end of the valley. There was even a train robbery to report.
    So maybe I can ruffle some feathers if I tell you I paid only $2.12 per gallon for gas the other day here in Virginia. Nope, y'all just hang your heads and cry. How about I tell you that you can expect the same old stuff from the College of the Canyons board, since it looks like you've got the same old players back for another term? I could almost feel your apathy, nearly 3,000 miles away.
    Hey! I'm writing a novel about the SCV. I need names for characters. Want to offer your name? I can't tell you how difficult it is to create names for characters in a story. I have just added one, thanks to a suggestion from a nameless Californian. Some lady in the book shall have the name, "Karen Pita." It's a private joke that will be revealed in the acknowledgments. I doubt the fictional lady will be nice as I write about her.
    If you submit a name, please include some of what and why you think the character should have that name. Please, keep it clean. I don't want the William S. Hart school board to ban the book from my alma mater. (They may for other reasons, anyway.)
    I guess I should tell you a little about the story. Without giving anything away, I can tell you that it has Civil War submarines, Tataviam Indians, shady land developers, horses, a love story, a modern mini-submarine, newspaper reporters, a yellow Jeep called "Buttercup," terrorists, the Rose Parade, and a bunch of local SCV history. Now do you have any ideas for names?
    I was told that there would be weeks like this. Summer is gone here, as you folks in the SCV worry about the Santa Ana winds and brush fires. Elections are over. Nobody cared before or after those elections. Maybe if we were told what we could vote for and not against. Maybe if the candidates told us what they were for and not what the other guy was against. Maybe if the initiatives on the last California ballot held out a little bit of a carrot rather than being all "stick."
    But alas, it is over. Kaput! Fine. Done. (And overdone.)
    But what if 347 of those 1,795 write-in votes for the Virginia attorney general had gone to the candidate who is 347 votes behind right now? What a story! One vote would really make a difference. And then I'd really have something to write about in this weekly offering.
    So, submit those names for the characters in my book. We all know that the SCV has plenty of characters to base a name upon. I promise it will be more fun than the last election.

    If you want to submit a name, send it to letters@the-signal.com with "Manzer Book" in the subject line. Darryl Manzer lived in the Santa Clarita Valley oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s as a teenager. He now lives in Virginia.

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