I went out to lunch, journeying into the cold, grey streets of gritty Philadelphia. We walked all the way across campus in search of the food trucks, where I stood on tip toe to lean up to a truck counter and order a tuna salad sandwich. Then, we turned around again and walked all the way back to the Student Center to eat in a crowded, noisy room and watch a boy get recruited for soccer and a whole lot of people staring at laptops. I focussed on finishing my sandwich, and laughing as much as I could.
It’s those sorts of things that I love about Model Congress: The instants where everybody’s together, talking and having a good time in a way that we wouldn’t if we were anywhere else. At school, we’d sit in separate groups and never spend an hour complaining about immigration and other people’s stupidity. Well, we would, but we wouldn’t do it collectively and with the same sort of zeal. Every moment at Model Congress is crucial. Nothing can be missed. It’s go, go, go, win, win, win, but please have fun while you’re doing it.
I walked back to Huntsman, looking through the basement at oddly and irregularly
numbered and lettered rooms for my committee. I slid into a grey desk, tugged at my blazer, and braced for impact. This morning went really, really well. It should be smooth sailing from here on out, I told myself. I stood up to present my bill to the committee, feeling on top of the world. I gave my speech, leaving exactly fifteen seconds for points, and then the strangest thing happened: no one raised their hand. I was discussing gay marriage, a topic that really riles people up, and no one had a question. I had statistics, a highlighted copy of the Constitution, graphs about how it would help the economy, case law, and no one cared. My eyes got so wide that they started to sting, and the chair told me to sit down.
Then, when they asked for someone to speak against it, no one raised their hand again. Finally, a guy stood up and said that he opposed the bill because it didn’t “go far enough.” Go far enough? Are you kidding me? As I gave him the knitted forehead are-you-crazy look, he went on to say that we should be allowed to marry as many people as we want, animals, and inanimate objects. Suddenly, the debate became focussed on that and not gay marriage. I was quite ready to slam my head into the desk. Things were not going as planned.
An amendment got passed, supporting his insane belief, and I got up to give my final authorship speech in a daze. It went something along the lines of: This bill is only about gay marriage. I am upset that it got changed. Business. Economics. Health Insurance. Seeing People in the Hospital. The Constitution. Vote for this. I have no idea what is coming out of my mouth. Sit down.
The bill passed, and it was all over. Hours of preparation for a big battle turned into twenty minutes of confusion. I felt like a week old helium balloon–slowly floating down from the ceiling a wrinkled, sorry mess. But I couldn’t cry yet, there was the “game” to be played. After every bill, the chairs gave the author a topic, such as states in America, and the author had to list as many things within that category as they could in thirty seconds. I got given languages, and let me tell you, it was easy. I swept through Europe east through west, dipped into North Africa, did all of South Africa’s official and tribal languages (thank you ten-page sixth grade report), and headed off into the Middle East. I got twenty-nine. I can’t believe that my bill fell on its face, but I just performed phenomenally well on a categories game, I thought.
Once the shock wore off, I began to cry. I excused myself from the room, and found myself in an odd circular quasi-room with financial newspapers and a screen with important stock market numbers (It’s phrases like stock market numbers that prove that I have a future career as an investment banker.) that changed every second or so. One of the girls from the committee left see if I was okay, which was incredibly kind, and a little while later one of the chairs came out to speak to me. Apparently, my bill had been really good after all, and I was “standing out in debate.” Strange.
Once again, Lady Macbeth offered me her sage advice to be courageous, and I marched back into the room ready to kill Duncan and some poorly written bills. I was feeling fine. Not good. Not bad. Just fine. And somehow it all worked. Debate came naturally.
I went out to dinner with people from my school, magically finding the ability to eat half a Caesar salad in ten minutes. With a spring in my step, I walked into the last committee session of the day. A girl introduced a bill that would give money to a militant “whale-saving” organization that would tries to tip over Japanese whaling ships, and I felt the wonderful aggressive intelligence feeling wash over me again. A long speech about international relations, unprecedented actions, and constitutionality later, I was feeling pretty darn good about myself. But sure enough the tears and the fear of failure came, and I found myself in the hall.
But like every time before, I picked myself back up, dusted off my hands, and headed back into the fray. One of the really great guys in my committee introduced this awesome bill:
I was ready to do battle. I had a printed out sheet of federal prison statsics, more than a working knowledge of psychotropic medication, and very strong feelings in support. Out of all of the speeches I gave in committee, that one by far the best. It felt awesome. Like chocolate Milky Way ice cream on a sunny day awesome.
Committee ended, and I scurried back across campus through the dark. I had packed Taboo and was desperate to get a game going. Besides, my shoes had begun to hurt. Not just the I’ve-been-wearing-heels-all-day hurting, but these-shoes-are-rubbing-the-skin-off-of-my-feet hurting. I would have done anything to walk back barefoot. But city streets have glass and God knows what on them, so it wasn’t exactly an option.
Later that evening, we had a wonderful game of Taboo. There must have been fifteen people in our room, and everyone was rolling around laughing. But as fun as it was, I began to crash. First, my head started to feel a little foggy, and then the ticking time bomb set in. I was actually going to pass out in the middle of the loud game, if I didn’t get moving. It was like I was drugged, which, of course actually was the truth. (Thanks, Geodon. You rock.) I hopped into the shower, willing myself to keep my eyes open, blow dried, my hair, and curled up on a corner of my bed. Thankfully, Ashley or Doc–I can’t remember which–noticed, and everyone left the room. I was asleep within a minute.