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With all the mudslinging at, and between, candidates, it's a marvel to me anyone runs for a political office of any kind. You'll never find my name on a ballot, election year or not.

Why? I'm a coward, that's why. I'm afraid what opponents might dredge up from my past. And being as-senior-a-citizen as I already am, my past goes a lot farther back than any of the present office-seekers.

Being a candidate means reporters Google your life back at least six generations, locate your report cards from kindergarten on, and snag your family, friends, and neighbors, too, concerning little-known whatevers in your life.

Imagine the heyday those reporters would have if they queried my sister. (She tattled everything to Mom during our growing up years.) I can hear them ask her, "Has Isabel ever padded her expense account?" She'd surely tell them about the summer Dad said he'd give us a penny for every weed we pulled. "Isabel made twice as much money as I did because she cut each of her weeds in half before Dad counted them." An opponent would pounce on that with, "Does Isabel merit taxpayers' trust?" (I was only 7 then, for goodness sakes!)

Another stickler question I might be asked: "Have you ever bribed anyone?"

Yes. I've bribed a grandchild: "If you'll be quiet, I'll give you a cookie." And a neighbor: "I'll feed your cat while you're gone if you'll help me with my computer." And my husband, "I'll bake you an apple pie (a done-deal enticement) if you'll balance my checkbook."

But all of the above pales in comparison with how cartoonists depict candidates. As soon as Romney named his running mate, you didn't have to be Einstein to predict they'd caricaturize Paul Ryan with beady eyes, Dumbo ears, eagle beak nose. In fact, if you can remember back to the early '50s, you'll recall how cartoonists treated flumpy, motherly Bess Truman. (But Bess thought being First Lady was a lot of folderol anyway.)

If I were an office-seeker, I'd not be exempt, either. So I'd immediately need to undergo Botox (folks think I have enough facial wrinkles now to screw my hat on). Next, I'd have to visit a cosmetic surgeon for a tummy tuck. Then for cosmetic lifts: face, fanny and busma (my little granddaughter can't say "bosom"). Well, a dozen or so years ago, I was already thinking about all of the above when a cartoon of a bank robber - drawn by a police artist from witnesses' descriptions and captioned, "Have you seen this man?" - appeared in the local paper.

An idea hatched: If I was a suspect and witnesses described me, how would I look?

I phoned the police artist and told him a neighbor had a dozen friends coming to her house the next day. I asked if I dropped into her meeting for five minutes, then left so she could give each visitor a sheet of questions to answer about me, would he draw me from those ‘witnesses descriptions' like he did that bank robber?

The idea so intrigued him, he agreed "although it's not official business."

My neighbor said, "The whole thing sounds like a blast. Count me in."

That next night a dozen startled women receiving the questions suddenly tried to remember my height, weight, age, color of hair, eyes, clothing.

My neighbor dropped the resultant unopened packet of questionnaires at the detective's office. After reading its contents, the artist phoned and told her, "According to your witnesses' descriptions, the suspect's eyes are blue, brown or hazel. Her weight ranges 100-140. Height: 5 feet to 5 feet 8 inches. Age: 60 to 85. Will you come to my office to supply further details?"

She did but told me later, "I didn't know describing you would be so hard! He showed me pages of noses. Pages of mouths. I got your glasses the wrong shape…."

Just for your info, if I ever learn who it was that guessed my age at 85, I'd advise her to apply for the witness protection program!

Now, in case you're curious, here's the police artist’s composite drawing - obviously another reason why you'll never find me putting my name on any kind of ballot.

But I admire the dedication-and fortitude-of those who do.

© Copyright 2012 by Isabel Torrey, a King City resident who is in her 41st year as a columnist.

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