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Vote, then hope for rain to dispel the political mud

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Things to do to get you safely through Election Day:

Ask your neighbors if they're voting today. Watch their expressions as they ask, "Election? Is that what all those TV commercials were about?" Hope a strong rain rips through the state, to wash away all the political mud that's been flung in the past year. Notice all the new mud beginning to form in the coming weeks. Wonder how long it'll take candidates to fling it in next year's mayoral race.

Be the first in line to sign up for Professor William Donald Schaefer's college lectures. ("Maryland: One of America's States.") Lament the current crop of political candidates and mourn the sad passing of gubernatorial giants from the Maryland political stage, such as Spiro Agnew (nolo contendere means never having to say you're sorry), Marvin Mandel (who had friends he could turn to), and Harry Hughes (the man who slept through the savings and loan mess.)

Telephone the actress Rue McLanahan. Tell her you've found her long-lost twin sister, who's running for governor of Maryland. Call Helen Bentley. Ask if she's ready to give her gubernatorial concession speech yet.

Go to the Baltimore Museum of Art for a day filled with cultural delights. Spend 10 minutes in the new wing, and an hour in the new cafe, trying to figure out why the new wing leaves you so unmoved. Take great civic pride in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's triumphal visit to Japan. Don't tell anybody you've attended a BSO concert here exactly the same number of times you've vacationed in Japan.

Call Judge Tom Bollinger. Ask if he's sent a thank you note to Judge Robert Cahill for taking everybody's mind off Bollinger's contribution to public outrage. Ponder the move to extend the retirement age for judges. Understand that it's on the ballot mainly to help a couple of judges who aren't ready to say good night.

Recall the delights of election days past, when Irv Kovens was running the political game. Tell everybody how you and Irv had a special understanding. Don't tell them that the understanding was that you thought he could take care of you, and he thought that you didn't exist.

Toss around a football with a few friends. Wonder if the Baltimore CFLs can keep an entire league alive. Wonder what's likely to happen first: a new National Football League team for Baltimore, or another major league baseball season for anyone.

Contact the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. about last month's bill. Ask if they misplaced the decimal point. When you send in your check, endorsed to BG&E;, leave in the &, just to annoy the geniuses who came up with the company's inspired new BGE abbreviation. For this, these people earn a living?

Contact the Rouse Co. Find out if anybody there knows what's happening at Cross Keys, which once was one of the snazziest shopping areas in the northwest corner of town and now resembles aspects of a ghost town.

Try to grab a moment with Rep. Ben Cardin. Ask him if he gets his fashion tips from his cousin, Pierre Cardin. Catch up with Rep. Steny Hoyer. Ask if he knows he's starting to look like the late Fred Gwynne.

Marvel at how Ross Pierpont, even in his dotage, still hasn't lost the marvelous political instincts that have allowed him to run for every office in the state and win exactly none.

Find out if you can buy stock in prison construction. It's beginning to look like a growth industry.

Drink a toast to the late Harry McGuirk's hair. Send a bandage to Jeff Salkin, at Maryland Public Television. He needs it, for all the times he had to bite the inside of his cheek during the MPT "debates" with write-in political candidates. This stuff was less entertaining, if possible, than MPT's annual membership drives.

Recall that wonderful year of 1966, the last time Maryland elected a Republican governor. His name was Agnew. Tell your children how everybody voted for him because he looked like the liberal in that election.

Wonder why there's no ballot question requiring all slumlords to spend the winter living in apartments they rent. Wonder why the folks who never vote are the first ones to say, "How come we never get any good people in office?"

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