It seems like only yesterday we were eagerly anticipating getting properly smashed during the first Presidential debate. And it seems like only today that we were still freaked out by the fact that now it seems that after a single night of pretending to be manic 1994 Mitt Romney rather than awkward 2012 Mitt Romney, the Presidential race is now in a virtual dead heat with only weeks remaining before Election Day. Stakes couldn't be higher — and neither could your blood pressure. Let's take it down a few notches, ladies, with this handy Presidential Debate Relaxation Exercise.
So let's do a fun thought experiment right now and imagine that everything stressful that could happen during the political jousting match actually happens. Let's pretend Romney accidentally says the n-word. Let's pretend Obama walks out there with his fly open and instead of a penis, there's a candy cane hanging out. Imagine fisticuffs. Tears. Chest hair. But rather than reacting to these stimuli by feeling like you want to dunk your head in a bucket of ice water, why not fight negative emotional stimuli with positive? Relax. Your anger is only taxing your poor, overworked heart.
Candy Crowley goes rogue
ALL EYES ON THE DEBATE MODERATOR is a thing I am legally obligated to say now as the debate approaches. Will she do what the campaigns want her to do and just act like the candidates' Lovely Assistant? Or will she Raddatz?
Why is this a question? Of course she'll Raddatz, at least to some extent. What are they going to do, call off the debate in the middle of it? Will Ed Gillespie and David Axelrod storm onto the stage, waving their arms and saying THIS DEBATE IS OVER! WE ARE GOING HOME?! No.
Crowley will go rogue. And when she does, respond by stretching your arms over your head. Feel the stretch. There, don't you feel a little better? Oh my god.
An audience member says something kind of offensive.
All of the participants in this town hall meeting are allegedly undecided voters — so they're either considering voting for a third party candidate, drooling and breathing very loudly in and out of their mouths, or just faking it for the attention, like most undecided voters.
But the audience participation element means that things could get WACKY (stupid). And when they do, rather than responding by ripping the arm of your couch off and throwing it out of your window, shouting "THIS FUCKING COUNTRY!", close your eyes and imagine that you are warm and heavy, sitting alone on a beach. Happy and comfortable. Comfortable and happy.
These are tough, contentious times. And there's a chance that some rabble rouser (probably a Ron Paul fan or Occupy Wall Streeter, because talk about undaunted) will interrupt the proceedings with some kind of incoherent shouting about a topic that both candidates should probably be addressing, but won't. When this happens, instead of furiously checking Twitter for details on the person's identity and then googling them in an attempt to locate their facebook page, point and flex your toes three times. Feel the energy flowing through you.
Mitt Romney says something that is the opposite of what his website says Mitt Romney believes.
By now, we know that Mitt Romney is basically a soulless, principle-less husk of a human being who will take whatever form he needs to take in order to fulfill his mission. Like a wimpy Terminator. So you should expect more flopping and flipping from the GOP Presidential candidate than you'd see on the deck of a fishing boat after hauling in the day's catch. But instead of punching a fist-sized hole in your drywall, when he does this, assume the Warrior pose.
Obama does that Uhhhhhh vocal tic thing more than 4 times in 20 seconds
Thanks to Jay Pharaoh's SNL Barack impression, we're all annoyingly aware of how sometimes, the President sort of eases into words with this reverse vocal fry "uhhhh" sound. This is really irritating.
But instead of opening your eyes really wide and shouting "STOP DOING THAT, MR. PRESIDENT!", relax your jaw and massage your facial muscles.
Someone uses the word "lie," in an accusative context.
Politicians lie all the time, but rarely do they openly accuse each other of lying to each others' faces. Instead, like middle school girls, they allow their friends and cronies to call the other guy liars behind his back. Politicians would not do very well on The Real World/Road Rules Challenge.
So if someone accuses the other of lying, rather than becoming enraged or elated, keep it at Excitement Level Medium or below. When they say lie, you take their advice, and lie down on your back, looking at the ceiling. Ew, you never noticed the water damage up there before, did you? Was this building on fire one time or something? Why is the ceiling buckling like that?
Any invoking of a deity
Lord knows Mitt Romney is more strongly on Team God than Ned Flanders from The Simpsons. But Obama sometimes talks about religion, too. And hearing government officials discuss how churchy their ideal state would be is both terrifying and irritating. But rather than allowing your head to rotate 360 degrees when this happens, massage your left hand with your right hand. That meaty area between the thumb and palm is surprisingly tense!
... if that deity is an ancient deity.
Okay, this would be awesome. If Mitt Romney says something about Zeus or Hatshepsut or something, just start applauding. Best debate.
Mitt Romney talking down to a female audience member, like an about-to-explode distant father who is VERY DISAPPOINTED that you just told him you are a lesbian or that you've decided to major in pottery.
Mitt Romney is terrible at talking to women who are not his wife. He's so bad at it that he cancelled an appearance on The View, opting instead to let his grinning wife Ann take his place.
He will most likely act like a dick to a woman who asks him a question. When he does this, rather than throwing your remote at your TV, sit in a pike position and stretch your hamstrings. You haven't been paying enough attention to your hamstrings.
Mitt Romney talking down to the female moderator.
This will also probably happen. Just close your eyes and pretend this man hasn't been able to amass hundreds of millions of dollars in personal fortune while lacking the social skills to not act like a prick to a woman.
Obama actually falls asleep onstage. Just, right there, like you know he was thinking during the last debate.
If this happens, you should probably just turn the TV off and go to bed.
For every minute neither candidate says a goddamn thing about women
Take a deep breath.
Mitt Romney laughs inappropriately loudly
Don't clutch your ears and scream MAKE IT STOP when this happens. Instead, drink a full 8 ounces of water. Good for your complexion AND your bowel movements.
President Obama gets that "I'm an embarrassed boyfriend getting yelled at in a shopping mall" look on his face during one of Romney's attacks
The town hall format isn't as conducive to aggression, but Mitt might try to come out swinging, anyway. And if Obama gets Bad Puppy face, rather than crying into a glass of red wine, try to touch your lips to your elbow. If you can do it, you'll turn into a fairy.
Romney gets uncomfortably close to an audience member who asks a question and addresses him.
Town hall debates are big on EMPATHY and Mittbott hasn't yet learned to love. No worries. He may try to overcompensate by standing very close to Human Subject. When that happens, rather than getting the creeps, give yourself a scalp massage.
Remember, after tonight, we've only got one more of these godawful things to go before the election. And then — hopefully— we can really relax.