I have never had more than probably twenty Twitter followers. Twitter has never been a big or important aspect to my life, but at one point in mid-2015, I was able to consider myself somewhat funny. And it’s not so much that my humor was related to Twitter, but that it sometimes bled into Twitter, like seeing Iggy Pop and having him throw up on you, or something like that. The main essence to this comedic prose was, admittedly, probably just lots of alcohol, but I am not in the business of debating from whence genius arises.
It was May of 2015. The GOP was still figuring out who they would send forth to screw us all sideways (as were the Democrats, reader who just became offended). By this point, however, it was clearer than daylight that Donald Trump was the most incompetent, unqualified, laugh-worthy, cringe-worthy, selfish, narcissistic, delusional, useless, most idiotic, ridiculous joke that had ever even had a remote, passing thought of even maybe being president of the United States. Thus, my friend Charles and I made a constant night of drinking and watching the debates, making a joke out of everything. We would occasionally try to follow it with some drinking games, like taking a sip every time someone would mention ISIS, etc, but anyone following those actual rules would surely be dead by 9 pm. We would instead drink casually (heavily), and send out to the world our barrage of thoughts on what was happening. I used Twitter, he used Facebook. Most everything was just arguing with people in a drunken laugh, knowing that the same thing was probably happening on the other side – it had to be. I cannot recall specifically any of these arguments, only that the threats revolved around impossible, metaphysical feats. I could imagine myself saying that I would blow up the whole world if someone kept up with their stupid argument, etc, etc. Dumb drunk talk.
But now it was Trump’s turn to speak on this particular night. The epitome of dumb drunk talk.
Do I really need to remember what it was that he said, or the absurdity I felt at the entire situation I was watching in front of me? If I do, perhaps this story is not for you and you should find another blog; I am not trying to start any arguments here.
I had finally reached a boiling point, and a drunken boiling point will never really lead to anywhere beneficial towards anything. “Yo, I’m gonna shoot Trump, you cool?” I Tweeted the FBI.
Yes, the FBI. I told the American Federal Bureau of Investigations that I was going to shoot the future president. In retrospect… I have since seen evidence of successful protests which took a different route.
I woke up the next morning, found out that was probably a bad idea from last night, and deleted the Tweet.
I had what is probably now seen as one of my first dates with my amazing girlfriend the next day. I picked her up in the early afternoon and we went to a zoo in Colorado Springs, about an hour from where we lived in south Denver. On the drive, we listened to music and talked and mostly just got excited about our day together, everything was normal and it was great. We pulled up to the zoo and got our tickets. Not even two minutes into the park and my phone rang – my mother. It’s not that I especially dislike my mother or anything like that, but when you are on your first official date with a girl you really like, you don’t answer the phone for your mom at the beginning of it. I let it go, and we walked foreword a few feet to look at the giraffes. The phone rang again. I was already in Colorado Springs, I wasn’t going to go back now. This was my first date with Amber and I had been looking forward to it and made sure to leave a clear schedule. When the phone rang a third time, though, I knew something was wrong. I answered.
“Hello?” I said.
“You need to come home, now,” it was my mom, her tone sent shivers down my spine. It was that tone one might recognize as a child, when you would became absolutely certain that you have fucked up. The Tweet still hadn’t really entered my mind, though.
“What for?” I asked.
“It doesn’t matter, you just need to be here.”
“I’m not just going to come home if there’s no reason, though,” I pleaded. A not-so-great move to pull on your mom, I understand, but let’s keep the consequences in mind here.
“What?” she said to me, rhetorically. Then she whispered into the phone, “he’s not gonna come. I don’t know what to do.” Then there was a shuffle on the other line.
“Evan?” It was a woman’s voice. She sounded stern. Younger, but old enough to have seen some shit.
“You don’t come home when your mother asks you to?”
I was twenty years old, what the hell was happening here? Some sort of covert operation to get me to spend time with my mom? “I just don’t know why I would go home, and I am far away from home,” I said, as if explaining it to a child. She didn’t know me, or why I wasn’t immediately rushing to my mother’s aid, and who was she to – oh god. I got drunk and Tweeted something. What was it…
“I’m Betsey [not really] with the Secret Service. How far away are you,” she asked.
“About an hour. Maybe longer.” What did I say? Something about that orange…
“Alright. Head home and we’ll see you here,” her tone indicated it was for something serious.
This was all real and it was all happening.
Oh, goddamn it! I told the FBI I’d shoot Trump, huh?
It’s quite an awkward moment when you realize in your mind that you have to now abandon your plans for a date, only to be potentially – and very possibly – arrested for threats against the GOP primaries.
As an anarchist punk at heart, it is also a badass moment.
“We’ve gotta go, Amber.”
She could see the nervousness on my face. I’m sure my color was lost. “Oh, okay,” she said.
It was a silent walk to the car, and a silent drive down the mountain and onto the highway, where we found ourselves surrounded in rush hour traffic.
“Do you mind if I smoke around you?” I asked. We had hung out several times, but this was the first time I had the need to ask her.
“Of course not. I’ve got friends who smoke, you can do what you want.”
I love her.
On our silent stop-and-go ride, I received a text message from a number not in my contacts.
This is Betsey. Go to [an address in the Denver Tech Center]. Let me know when you are close.
Is this real? Is this really how these things operate? Is this what the world is? Text messages telling the bad guys where to go, because traffic is a bitch, you know? They don’t have time to wait around for that.
Amber pulled out her phone and found a shortcut to our cryptic destination. She also consoled me greatly, but that’s less funny so I’m leaving it out.
I’m close, I sent as we stopped at a gas station so that I could chug a Red Bull and take a Xanax.
We got back on the highway and Betsey replied Park in the garage. Take the elevator to the 4th floor. Go left to the end of the hallway. There will be a doorbell, ring it.
At this point, I wasn’t sure how to feel, honestly. On one hand, I was terrified at the thought of strangers bothering my mother over something stupid I had done, and I definitely didn’t want to be arrested. On the other hand, however, the entire US government appeared to be working based on text messages and the honor system. I know deep down that had I responded lol jk. l8r, losers! they would have found me soon after, using satellites and FBI stuff, but I still thought that I should be let off the hook for even considering this weird, lonely adventure I was now facing. Amber waited in the car. The building was enormous, but had hardly any signs out front indicating as to what any of it could be for. The elevator was right next to the front doors. My heart was pounding now. How were we even sure that this was for sure the FBI? What if I had just offended a close, mentally unstable business partner friend?
I got off the elevator and took a left. The hallway was completely empty and was painted an extremely boorish grey. The hall took a good 30 seconds or so to reach the end. There, I found a doorbell and a wooden door with some sort of keypad on the left side. Assuming that they had somehow traced my steps to this very door and knew where I was, I felt as though I had no choice but to ring the doorbell. The door buzzed and an intercom asked who I was. I told them and they unlocked the door remotely so that I could enter. Inside was an equally boorish waiting room. There were no photos, no name or organization anywhere, nothing. Just a few chairs along the wall that looked like they had been commandeered from a doctor’s office. Straight ahead was another wooden door, to the left of that was a reception window, and on the left side of the room was another door. I walked to the reception window and spoke into the circular microphone in the glass. “Hi,” I stammered.
“Okay, Evan. I need everything in your pockets. Do you have an ID?”
“I’ll need your ID first.”
I handed her everything and then sat in one of the doctor chairs like I was ordered to. I was by myself.
I waited for a good fifteen minutes, though it felt like hours, when the door to the left of reception opened up. There stood two business-casual dressed adults – one man and one woman, staring me down. “Follow us,” the man said.
They led me down a small, plain, boorish hallway to a small, plain, boorish room. The room contained a large, wooden, rectangular table and three uncomfortable, mostly metal chairs – two on one side and one on the other. I obviously sat on the one person side.
“So, do you know why you’re here?” asked the woman. It was the woman from the phone, Betsey. She was probably in her mid-40s. If I saw her on the street I wouldn’t think anything of her, but knowing that she worked for a secretive government organization, I almost laughed out loud at how ridiculous her must-be-undercover outfit was – tan cargo shorts with a long, grey tee-shirt, with some off-brand hiking shoes. Was I supposed to believe this woman?
“For Twitter,” I said, maybe more abrasive than I’d have liked.
“You got that right,” said the man. He was dressed as equally ridiculously, with almost the same cargo shorts. What made his worse was that he was wearing a Hawaiian short-sleeve, though. And flip-flops. I’ll name him Nancy.
“What did you Tweet, Evan?” asked Betsey, obviously rhetorically.
“Something pretty stupid,” I responded.
“Do you think that it’s generally a good idea to tell the FBI you are going to shoot anyone?”
“Not anymore.” I didn’t necessarily have the heart to completely agree with her. Had anyone actually been serious in Tweeting that they would shoot someone, it would make government agents’ lives much easier.
Betsey and Nancy explained that they were from the Secret Service, and that the good ol’ fellas at the FBI had generously tipped them off (my wording, not theirs). This is the point at which I am not going to pretend I was a badass. I was nervous to the point that had I not taken that Xanax, I probably would have passed out in the elevator. Regardless of this, though, I still remember myself thinking at the time Don’t they have anything better to do?
“You still live with your parents?” asked Nancy.
“Yeah, I do.”
“Do they charge you rent?”
“No, they don’t.”
“So, your parents who brought you up, raised you, I’m assuming gave you your car? How’d you get your car, Evan?”
“Well I bought it, but from my dad…”
Nancy continued, “Right. So your parents essentially give you everything, make you happy, keep you alive, and then you make us come knock on their door and ruin their day. You think parents like to have us come looking for their kids?”
They make me happy? I don’t even know what that means, but I pictured a parent who’s chained her child to the tv with video game controller cables, saying “You must be happy! I command it!”
I shook my head.
“I’ve got a 17-year-old daughter at home,” began a now more furious Betsey, “and if she behaved the way you do, I’d kick her out.”
“Yeah, my kids would not be allowed to do this,” Nancy added.
What the fuck was this? I made one joke about the holy-shit-how-could-he-become-president-ass-hole and now not only was I under investigation, but I was also just a rotten kid? A rotten person? I have and have always had a boastfully low self-esteem, but this was beyond me. They didn’t know anything about me or my family. I didn’t give a shit what Betsey did with her kids, and I sure as hell didn’t want to hear about it. All of these grievances I quickly overcame, when the most infuriating event ever, the single biggest event ever to justify my punk anarchism, an event to define our current political climate happened:
“What would you do if Trump were to walk into this room, right now?” asked Nancy.
Well, Nancy, being that I am in a room with two Secret Service agents, nothing. “You know, I’d like to think I’d have something clever to say, but I don’t think I would do anything,” I assumed this was the actual answer they were looking for.
“So, I’m assuming you’re a Bernie Sanders fan?” asked Betsey.
“If you were to vote today, who would you vote for?”
“Honestly, after all of this, I’m pretty discouraged from voting. I don’t think I’m going to vote at all at this point.”
They both shook their heads in agreement.
“That’s a good idea,” Betsey concluded.
Let me summarize this last bit for anyone who might have just missed what happened in the climax of the story. I do not usually condone using caps lock, or making a show with text, so forgive me, but: TWO SECRET SERVICE AGENTS FROM THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TOLD ME THAT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA FOR ME TO NOT VOTE AT ALL IN THE UPCOMING ELECTION. If that is not the clearest, most textbook, backhand to the face of American democracy, I don’t know what is.
The agents then explained to me in threatening (but obviously bluffing) detail about how I could possibly go to court for this, but that they would let me know what was going to happen. They kept telling me I was getting off easy. (They never contacted me after this.)
Now, I’m not saying that these agents were on either side, or that there was any sort of conspiracy at work here, but I do know that when any sort of person working for the federal, or even local government, tells you it would be best not to vote, it means that they have no respect for you, your thoughts, or anything you stand for. I had not voted at the time, though I could have, during Obama’s second term. I still have not voted, which I understand can be deeply offensive to some, but it’s something I almost hold dear to me at this point. My voting virginity is something I am saving for when my punk heart finally gives out, and I have to succumb to a life of knowing which things are popular, being nice to everyone, and thinking that dubstep is a valid genre of music. A life when I know the Betseys and Nanceys of the world have too far outnumbered the reasonable people.
Though I hope that day never happens, I truly do wish for a day when politics in America doesn’t seem so shitty. For when I’m not a politician isn’t a slogan for why you should vote for someone. For when it’s okay to be different from your neighbors, but have that not affect your lives. And most of all, I am saving my vote for when there is someone I truly believe in, not just a “best of a bad situation,” or an “I guess this’ll work.” I am saving my vote for something and someone I truly believe in. And those agents can go fuck themselves until then.
In the end, was it the drunk guy who was making fun of asses on tv, hoping to find one who made sense that obstructed democracy, or was it the agents who blatantly told that drunk guy not to vote?