The Debate Was At My University Last Night, Here’s What Happened With That

Hofstra University, pre-debate

As you may or may not know, Hofstra University, which I attend, was the host of the presidential debate yesterday. “Who cares,” you say, “where’s my list of 20 things?” Calm down. We’ll get there (No we won’t).

For the entirety of last year, and obviously these first few months of fall semester 2012, Hofstra has been debate-crazed. Debate-aroused, if you will. “Home of the debate” was added to the bottom of every university document. Our alma mater was changed to just the word “debate” over and over again, to the tune of “Amazing Grace.” Our school president got a full back tattoo of Obama and Romney making out inside of a dream catcher. We got into it. And you know what? It didn’t disappoint. It was pretty awesome. Something important was happening, and we were all there, and it was neato. So without further ado, let me present to you “Max’s top moments during the presidential debate.”

1. This phone call.

I work as an office assistant on campus, answering phones and scheduling student appointments. It’s backbreakingly hard work, but somebody has to do it. During my debate day hell-shift (three whole hours, midday), I received the following call, from a screaming woman.

Me: Hofstra School of Comm, this is Max speaking.

Her: MAX. I’M FROM NEW JERSEY, CALLING LONG DISTANCE. DON’T GIVE THE PRESIDENT A TELEPROMPTER TONIGHT, HE’S A LIAR. HE LIES.

Me: I have literally no control over that.

Her: LISTEN. NO LISTEN.

Me: I’m listening. I just don’t have any–

Her: –I SPENT A LOT OF MONEY TO CALL HERE. DON’T YOU LET HIM HAVE A PROMPTER.

Me: Right.

Her: LISTEN.

Me: Mhm.

Her: HE’S A LIAR AND HE THINKS HE KNOWS THE WORLD.

Me: Okay.

Her: I CALLED THE LIBRARY.

Me: Right.

Her: THEY TRANSFERRED ME HERE.

Me: I gathered that, yeah.

Her: ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE HIM A PROMPTER?

Me: Not anymore, no.

Her: HE LIES. YOU KNOW THAT, RIGHT?

Me: I didn’t know until just now.

Her: HE JUST SAYS WHAT THEY GIVE HIM IN HIS EAR FROM THE TELEPROMPTER.

Me: Right.

Her: IS AXELROD THERE?

Me: What, with me?

Her: YEAH.

Me: No.

Her: TELL HIM HE LIES.

Me: I’ll tell him as soon as he comes in.

Her: THANK YOU, GOODBYE.

2. A strange old man growled at me during a taping of MSNBC.

In our desperation to be blurry blobs in the background of a basic cable news show, our student body got pretty cutthroat. So did our campus’ visitors. There was an elderly gentleman wearing short shorts and a yellow parka, holding a large Romney sign. He was in a prime spot, right behind Chris Matthews’ enormous head, and I wanted it. I needed it. So I went for it. I stood in front of him.

For about six seconds, it was bliss. I waved, I jumped up and down; I was famous. I, a small-town boy from Pennsylvania, was a me-shaped blob on national television. It was glorious. And then, I felt the hand on my shoulder.

“Are you friend or foe?”

I turned around. The sky darkened. A child was crying. The old man had a crazy look in his eyes. He growled.

“I said are you friend or foe?”

“I… I don’t know what that means.”

“Are you with the enemy?”

“W-Who’s the enemy?”

He didn’t answer me. He just stood, breathing in my face. His breath stank of Nilla wafers and Earl Grey tea, and he stood, placidly staring through my eyes, into my very soul. Everything happy inside of me died.

Thankfully, his handler (or just a man in a suit) held him back, probably the only thing stopping him from biting my jugular.

3. Chris Matthews formed an opinion about me and it is not a positive one.

Right before the live taping of Hardball, Chris Matthews was making small talk with a crowd of students. I may or may not have told him I was up for adoption, and may or may not have asked if he was interested. He then may or may not have glared at me and very slowly and emphatically shook his head no. So, it may or may not be another Christmas alone for ol’ Max.

4. I talked to Theodore Roosevelt about the MLB playoffs

Part of the debate festivities included reenactments of famous speeches. The actor playing Teddy Roosevelt was apparently a chain smoker, as I ran into him repeatedly throughout the week, and each time he was smoking his mysterious old-timey pipe. At first, our conversations were pretty limited to what you would expect. Him pretending it’s the 1900s, me being a douchebag and talking about my space phone and female voters, etc, etc. The conversation went something like this.

Teddy: Good day!

Me: Teddy! Can I get a picture with you?

Teddy: Why, you don’t have a camera!

Me: Nope, just my magic box here.

Teddy: A magic box, you say!? What does it do?

Me: Magic.

Teddy: Ah! Well, certainly, let’s take a picture with your magic box.

[Getting into duckface position, holding up phone]

Me: You sure don’t like Native Americans huh?

Teddy: What?

Me: Cheeeese!

It went on like that, me telling him about the moon landing, and making up various wars and an alien invasion, and him pretending to be amazed. Eventually he just got sick of it, and we talked about Derek Jeter. And that’s what’s really important, isn’t it?

…Probably not. TC mark

image – Max Knoblauch

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