In 2012 – or some year similar to that – Mitt Romney approached me, shook my hand with moderate firmness, and asked me why I was standing in his driveway. He did not question the Jedi robes I was wearing at the time, nor did he flinch when my lightsaber went off later on in our conversation. Nevertheless, that interaction was incredibly meaningful to me. Not in the emotional sense, obviously (because frankly I’ve got enough on my plate without getting involved in the life of a lonely cyborg on the run from its creators), but in a much deeper and spiritual sense. He set me on a journey. A voyage. A quest, if you will. Or an expedition, if you won’t. It was a mission, in a cosmic sense. Slightly more so than a Mormon mission, and slightly less so than Mission Impossible: II. But our choice to engage in it had ripple effects we could never have predicted, that profoundly impacted one man for about a day.
That’s right. I was going to steal Mitt Romney’s jacket.
(NOTE: Please go back and read that sentence in Nicholas Cage’s voice. The rest of this article will not make sense if you don’t.)
After that first meeting, which was cut cruelly short when fate intervened and tipped off Mitt’s sensitive internal algorithm/human thought process that I was not of voting age at the time and would be useless to him, I did nothing but watch The Colbert Report. Obsessively so. This isn’t relevant, really- it was just what was going on in my life. Actually, I forgot about my Close Encounter Of The Turd Kind entirely, with the exception of a few Slumdog Millionaire-type flashbacks that seemed to occur whenever I was at a party and someone thought they were hot shit for having shook Governor Romney’s hand at a rally.
(NOTE: The idea that teens at a party would brag about that may seem like the most unlikely part of this entire story, so to clarify: I grew up in Utah. They’re all like that.)
Nevertheless, like any other teenager, I forgot all about my eternal purpose, and instead focused on doing poorly in school. The onus is not completely on me, however. Republican operatives never were able to find Mitt’s off switch, so he continued his own life, and also seemed to forget his role in our shared destiny, focusing instead on doing poorly in politics. Then, like two roads converging at the strip mall at the end of the yellow wood, we met again.
To set the scene: it was only a year later. He was still a relevant politician and millionaire, who had at that point recently tried to iron a suit while still wearing it. I was a teenager, chronically so, who was at the Sundance Film Festival pretending to be an up-and-coming filmmaker in an attempt to fool hipsters. Can I make it any more obvious?
Either way, we were both alike in dignity, if we mean dignity in the modern sense. And we were at the same film festival at the same time, which prompted Fate to pluck a single thread. Or maybe a yarn, she seems like a knitting kind of gal. No matter how, she certainly did intervene, because by sheer happenstance my friend and I were lucky enough to catch a whisper of some highly publicized party that Mitt Romney was throwing and everyone there but us had been invited to. Granted, we weren’t supposed to even be at the brunch where we heard about it, but still, kind of rude. After checking the panel lineup to make sure no one I cared about had an event soon, I immediately knew I had to crash it. A daytime party hosted by a Mormon? It could only be wild.
My friend and I plotted our Ocean’s 11-style break-in during the short walk over. Initially, the plan was to go with our classic routine, pretending to be hotshot directors, new to the scene, and if you didn’t know who we were it was YOU who should be embarrassed. It had worked to get us into some lower level events so far. Then realism – ever my enemy – intervened, as we were forced to confront the fact that we were teenagers, and I specifically had recently been flirted with by a 14-year-old who had seemed to assume we were on the same playing field. So we had to revise, and instead became low level interns for someone named Josh, who was already inside, and if we didn’t get in there right now and give him his Blackberry he was going to FIRE us, and we NEEDED this job. PLEASE.
Somehow it worked. Maybe it was my acting abilities, maybe it was the fact that the guy at the door was clearly trying to read and we’d been going on for a while. It was probably the acting. Anyway, we got in.
Upon entering, I realized two things very quickly.
- This Romney guy was RICH. I don’t know if you know this, but it seemed like he might even have more money than he needed. This was the good life I was witnessing, which is weird because I’d heard him say something on tv recently about God never giving you more than you can handle. Granted I wasn’t paying attention, but by that standard it seemed God thought he was a coward.
- The party sucked.
Not that I can blame them, but there weren’t any interesting people there. There were lots of people, I’ll give him that, but it was pretty clear none of them were Jon Stewart, like I’d hoped. Not even a Kristen Wiig among them. It was a stone cold bummer. Even so, we’d made it into the deceptively exclusive lair that Willard Middlename Romney had rented for the week, and we had to capitalize on that. To do anything else would be to disrespect his economic politics, and I wouldn’t do that to a guy who technically had only expressed discomfort at my standing in his driveway a year ago, rather than full on kicking me out. So we snooped. We didn’t find any morally incriminating documents with profound global impacts, though keep in mind this was in 2013ish, back before we just assumed politicians had them. We also didn’t find Ann Romney’s secret good cookie recipe, which I was guessing she kept only to herself since the one in her cookbook sucks. We didn’t even find the family charging port, which leads me to believe they had wireless charging installed into their bodies years before we even had it on our phones.
Eventually though, like ladies trying to check out Hugh Laurie’s ass at the gym, we got tired of looking for something that wasn’t there, and we decided to leave. We grabbed gift bags, which also sucked so incredibly much I don’t even remember what was in them, I just know it wasn’t a new iPhone. And then, as I cast a final glance around the room, I noticed something on a far end table. A lump of black cloth.
What could be more fascinating?
It called to me like a siren. It felt like it belonged to me, which – as my lawyer has repeatedly reminded me since – it didn’t. Like, at all. But it called to me, just the same. I picked it up, and saw a beautiful four letter word, stitched right onto the front of this thing I now recognized to be a jacket. It said MITT. Just like every other living human who enjoys breathing air to live, Governor Romney had had his name stitched on the front of his jacket. Presumably in case he forgot what it was. Or perhaps it was his unit number. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Test-subject? What is Mitt short for anyway?
Doesn’t matter. Fate looped her yarn around the needle, and I knew it was time for action. I wasn’t going to shy away, I’m well documented as being fearless – I once made eye contact with Steve Bannon’s cover photo for TIME Magazine. Anyway, it was the moment to make a decision. Actually it was that moment about a minute ago, because by the time I’d fully formulated that thought, I was already out the door and sucking down the fresh air of a free man with a brand new actually used and unwashed item of clothing in my hand. I had done it! Jason had his Golden Fleece, Frodo had his lack of a ring, and I had Mitt Romney’s jacket.
And that’s the story, really. I still have the jacket to this day, and it’s actually very warm, so I wear it every winter, living with the low bubbling anxiety that I will one day run into the man himself while wearing something I could not have more clearly stolen from him. As I reach the conclusion of this tale, I am forced to realize I don’t actually have a moral here. Maybe it’s that we shouldn’t think, and should instead just do. Maybe it’s that we should actually think more, in which case I just taught myself a lesson, and Pink Floyd was right about teachers all along. One thing has become clear, though, in the time since my very first Mitt sighting. We are no longer alike in dignity.
(NOTE: I mean, he stuck a dog on the roof of his car…)