My old boss in the Prime Minister's Office was fond of hauling me up on the blue carpet several times a day for various infractions. We worked in the correspondence division, Peggy had very high standards, and I was a sloppy hot mess back in those days.
I'd stand there, and stutter. Or I'd make an excuse, or apologize.
After a few minutes, Peggy would glare at me.
"Stop grovelling, Rose."
Her words came crawling back into my head as I watched Tom Mulcair standing on the stage during the NDP convention. His face was contorted and strange. It was as if he were a character in one of those Kindergarten books, the ones that were cut into three different strips, so you could take the eyes on one person and put them on another.
His mouth was almost leering, with a strange side smile, and his eyes were glistening and small. I swear to God, his beard got greyer as he pleaded with delegates to keep him on to fight another day.
"Stop grovelling, Tom," I mumbled, and then my mind began to stray.
He'd lost the audience, this party of one, who should have been riveted by his inspirational words. He should have been Jack Layton; instead he was me, standing front of Peggy, asking her not to fire me.
I felt chills; I was slightly weirded out.
And then I began to pity him, and there is nothing worse in politics than having the audience feel sorry for you. Like Gilles Duceppe with the condom on his head. Stephen Harper in the cowboy costume.
Now it was Mulcair, and he was actually crying.
Everyone knows there's no crying in politics. His number was up. The red lights from the automatic pistols were shining on his rumpled suit.
I couldn't take it anymore.
So I began to focus on that beard.
What is under that beard? There's always something: a double chin, or no chin; a bad case of roseacea; or maybe an unsightly mole. Suddenly, I wanted to rip the hair right off his face.
"It's that facial hair that got you in this mess in the first place," I nearly shouted at the television.
It was a fascinating dance at the NDP convention. The audience was unmoved and the gathering began to look like a convention of stone-cold assassins, with their guns holstered, but with the clips on, about to blow poor Tom's beard right off his chin.
There were a few tears, of course. Several people waffled.
A total of 48 percent of the delegates had voted for the guy -- that's not nothing -- but they did so more out of pity and misguided loyalty than for any notion he would fulfil their hopes and dreams. Tom's supporters were all standing in the front; they were the old Leapless guard, the people in politics who still believe in "dancing with the girl that brung ya."
Tom's supporters are old school. They still wear corduroy and patches on their elbows. Still ignore the importance of hair color in a bottle.
They remember when loyalty was valued in politics, when traditions mattered.
Back in those days, everyone wore watches, and didn't LOL. Coffee was caffeinated and brewed in big pots at the back of the room.
People made mismatched friends in politics. Geeks became heroes. Weirdos got blow jobs from cheerleaders under the stadium stands. Girls were actually valued for their intellect.
There were no losers just also rans.
Those days are gone, Tom.
Or should we start referring to you as Old Tom?
The new guard have been raised on Assassin Creed. They've disconnected their cable.
There's no more Hootenanies in the NDP.
This group is not about harmony, it's about disruption.
We've entered a new era of youth charged testosterone. Leaders have to have demonstrably working prostrates and uteruses.
The hair has to be on top of the head, not on the face, Tom.
You are so 1984.
So get over it, Tom.
Move the hell on.
Don't let the caucus do the dirty work.
Oh, and yes.
There's always this.
The Tories are looking for a new leader.
That's a party you haven't tried yet.