You’re off! Reminder to self: what are you doing? What are you doing? Watrudoin? Answer: put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. Keep repeating. Remember what you told your kids: 80 percent of success is showing up. Eighty percent. Not 99 44/100 percent. Eighty percent. Where’d you get that advice? Woody Allen. Woody Fucking Allen. Remember when it was cool to like Woody Allen? I guess even pervs get it right every once in a while. Are your kids following the path of Woody Allen? The success path, or the other one. Ewww. Forever ruined “Manhattan” for you.
OK, you’re walking. Where are you going? Warerugoing? White House. That’s right. The White House. People’s house. It’s still there, right? Hahahaha! Buildings have been left intact. Just the people are dying. They told you…no, not they. Google Maps told you it is a 20-minute walk. It’s still OK to use Google. Amazon’s out. Google is still OK. Walkity-walk through our nation’s capital with all these early morning people walkity-walking to their important jobs doing important things for all the little people in BFE. Like you, the new White House press secretary. Like that woman across the street. Mid-20’s. Blonde. So many blondes these days. More blondes than usual. Fox News look. Conservative suit. Looks pricey. You learned from your ex-wife, Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife the pediatrician, how to judge women’s clothing. This blonde in your sights: M, F, K? Too young for you to marry. That look in her eyes? You see that look in a lot of young women on the go. On the go go go! They have killer eyes. As in, the eyes of a killer. Kill or be killed. So, you’d have to kill her.
That parking lot and construction site. Great urban expanse of flatness. Nothing soaring, save the mechanical monstrosities heaving and groaning with girders. Eyesores, but signs of progress. You can see the construction site from your apartment. Surrounded by everything desolate and quiet and empty. DQE. Everything around here should be bustling with activity. BWA. Should be the epicenter of bustledom. Bustle, bus-tle, bustley. Nothing, nada, dead. Depressing. People on the streets here and there. Keep it moving. Not many red “Keep America Great” masks like yours. You ordered 20 from the campaign. You can spot them blocks away because of the red. What a red. Bullfighter red. Menses red. Pandemics drain all the fun out of cities. But you wouldn’t have this job without the suffering. Carpe opportunity.
Four more chain restaurants on the next block. Burgers. Sushi. Doughnuts. Sandwiches. Still all take-out only. All four main food groups. Nothing looks local. No “Cheers” pubs. No Sal’s Pizza. Find the same chains back in Chicago, BFE, everywhere. Just like you can find g.d. Whole Foods everywhere. Chained to the chains. Just shovel it in, quickly and cheaply, then recycle and repeat. Gastronomic doom in the District of Columbiassaurusmint. You won’t be eating out on the street. Everything going down your throat will be provided by the White House commissary. Cheese. Melty cheese. Spicy melty cheese. Crusts. Bread. Meats. Sauces. Tostitos and Nutella. Diet Coke after Diet Coke, washed down with Diet Mountain Dew. Your condo fridge has a bottle of champagne for the right celebration. Re-election? Getting laid? You are going to gain some serious weight at the White House. Small sacrifice for doing the people’s work in the people’s house.
Focus, man! You’re going to the White House. The House that Trump Built. The Trumpinator! Sorry about that girl you’re replacing, what’s her name, the old press secretary. All the press secretaries start to blur. She was a Fox News blonde, wasn’t she? A real lioness. Could not cage all that energy and rage. No cage for that rage. Rage-o-matic. She started speaking at the freedom protests. Showing POTUS solidarity with the freedom crowd. Selfies with the freedom crowd. Hugs and handshakes. No “Keep America Great” masks. Showing those MSNBC assholes what real bravado looks like. Bravado! Admirable. “Maybe not prudent,” like Dana Carvey said. Caught the COVID. Dead two weeks later. So pretty. So young. Only the good die young. Die young, stay pretty. She should get a stamp. No, they won’t be making stamps anymore. Everything’s going by UPS from now on. Maybe some start-ups, too. Notorious RBG passed in July. Confirmation process coming to a head. You would love some head. Good head on your shoulders. Shouldering the burden. Supreme Court will be best ever with Matt Gaetz confirmed. Supe-Supe-Supremes. SCOTUS for the ages. McConnell was masterful shepherding the nomination through the Senate. The Shepherd of the Senate. Magic Mitch. One for the books. This black woman passing you is pretty. You aren’t prejudiced. You dated an Asian woman once. Parents from South Korea. Harvard and Stanford Law. Cute. Aren’t they all cute? She was nice. Aren’t they all nice? Your parents would have liked the nice part if they had ever met her. She dumped you. Her parents objected. Magic Mitch married yellow. The White House is mellow with yellow. But black is whack, and they frown on brown. You’re joking. JK. JK. JK.
There’s a black guy, maybe early thirties who can tell with them, leaning on the front entrance of the defunct designer store, the one founded by the designer who suicided. Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife’s favorite designer. It is located across the street from two other defunct designer stores. Does anyone care about fashion anymore? Fashion feels like nostalgia. Black guy looks non-threatening. You’re not racist, but no one says you can’t stay alert. He’s looking as his phone. Dressed casually. Shirt with collar. Slacks. Loafers. Not Shaft. Wouldn’t mind a cop car driving by right about now. Where’s a cop when you need one? They’ve always been good to you. He’s not even looking at you. Minding his own business. That’s what the Black Lives Matter crowd says about that Trayvon kid. Poster boy for their grievances. You know different. Kid should have known better. Not that he deserved to die, but he should not have put himself in that position. It’s…inciteful. You have good guys looking out for the safety of their neighborhoods and you just can’t incite them. Mistakes get made, but that George guy’s heart was in the right place. Too bad about George. All Lives Matter. You pass the black guy. He looks up, nods. You return his nod, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’re not racist. You can tell he knows it. POTUS would chat the black guy up. He’s a talker, a people person. He loves people. Either one-on-one, or at the rallies. One way or the other. Very binary. Gotta remember that POTUS is a binary guy.
POTUS, POTUS, POTUS. Never met the man. You talked to some other white guy over Zoom. The Zoominator. They need a new press secretary. White House Press Secretary. Will they give you a business card with that title printed on it? What would Patrick Bateman say? WWPBS. Your last employer, the governor-employer was such a tool. Hammer, not screwdriver. He wrecked everything by pounding and pounding. Pounder. Pounded the wrong nail. Your nail. You had a good setup with a good family. Some people can’t help themselves. Didn’t understand limits of power. He deserved what he got and you got your 15 minutes of fame on Fox News. Warhol would have been proud. Remember the day the anti-vaccine crowd was out in force in your state’s capital? Same day as your wife announcing that she wanted to become your ex-wife. After what she did to you. She’s a pediatrician. She hates the anti-vaxxers. Timmy and Chessie were vaccinated. Pinch and pinch. Didn’t give it a second thought. A local Fox affiliate got you on camera as the governor’s spokesperson. Talk to us. Talkity-talkity-talk. Spin, spintastic, spintastically. You went off. Where did it come from? You ranted and raved about the tyranny of the so-called medical establishment and the dictatorship of the so-called experts and the way the educational elites sneered at the concept of common-sense parenting. You used your professional skills and mixed in some devil’s brew. You got Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife’s attention with that one, before she moved to Cincinnati. The interview got picked up by “Fox and Friends.” You got a call from the White House complimenting you. And then another call from the White House, asking if you would be willing to talk to someone else from the White House on the phone. And then the Zoom with the white guy from the White House, and now you are putting one foot in front of the other, walking in a Google-prescribed route to the White House. God sure laughed at your plans. Hardy-har-har.
The Zoom guy told you to “just show up and we’ll show you the ropes.” What kind of ropes? A hangman’s noose. Wonder Woman’s golden lasso. A clove hitch or reef knot. Election only six weeks away. Be real, man. You’re probably just a placeholder. What does a press secretary do, anyway? You’re certainly not going to be talking to the press. Unless POTUS wants it, which he won’t. You will be available to be thrown under the bus, if necessary. Because you refused to talk to the press, which is your job. Talk: bad. Silence: better. Dead: best. You’re a soldier in a war. Sacrifices must be made. Pence. Gone. Fauci. Gone. Birx. Gone. Azar. Gone. Never thought Kushner would get pushed under, but he’s gone. Bye Jared. Sperm donor. You met Jared in Pounder’s office in BFE. Pound-her. Smooth, almost translucent skin. Should have been a hand model. Still amazed that Sheryl Sandberg agreed to be Veep, but not surprised. Makes sense. She’s too old for you to marry, but maybe F. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to not become part of the story, not get fired, and be able to put White House on your resume. Keep your head down. Someone will hire you when this is all over unless you become part of the story and/or get fired.
How to succeed? In Big Government? Without really trying? Repeat: “I don’t recall.” Repeat: “I will get back to you offline.” Repeat: name of POTUS regularly, in a serious fashion, like you really mean it, even if you don’t. Repeat: you don’t start fights, you finish them. Repeat: look on the bright side of things. Repeat: fashion quotes from John Krasinski, Ellen, and Oprah to support the White House position. Repeat: election results can be trusted only if legitimate voters of record show up to polling places to cast their ballots in person. Repeat: efforts by Democrat governors to rely on ballots submitted through the discredited U.S. Postal Service will undermine the confidence of the American people in our traditional electoral process. Repeat: using the Electoral College has proven to be the best process in the world. Repeat: anything under the original projections of 2 million dead signal a successful response. Goo goo g’joob. Whatever.
Another parking garage. A parking garage on every block. Two parking garages. Three. All underground. Burial grounds for our motors. A very geometric city. L’Enfant’s gift to our pre-pubescent country. Drive your car into our nation’s capital and dive into the nether regions of the architect’s nightmare of squat, square and rectangular buildings. Disappear from view. Glad you sold your car. Bike and walk, the realtor said. The healthy alternatives. You definitely would have F’d her. God, why do you always play M, F, or K? Watch your browser history. What if you must evacuate and you’ve got no car? Zombie apocalypse. Atomic bomb threat. Chinese invasion. Pandemic. Wait, you’re still in the midst of a pandemic. No, you’re not supposed to use that word anymore. How would you escape from the city quickly without a car? How would you escape from the city even if you had a car? You’ve seen the movies. No one gets out alive. Just put your head down and try to do some good before annihilation. Make your kids proud. Fill Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife’s black heart with regret. They’ll survive. No one attacks Cincinnati. Cincinnati chili sucks.
You might marry the woman you just passed. Age appropriate for you: just past child-bearing peak. Probably either has kids or doesn’t want them. You don’t want any more kids. You’ve got your family. That’s set. Can you imagine how Timmy and Chessie would take it if you introduced half-siblings to the brood? No, non, negatory, nein. She has a kind face. Intelligent eyes. Like a younger Sheryl Sandberg. Nice, athletic stride. Same hair color as Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife. What went wrong? Sometimes even two people who are close to each other don’t know what’s going on between them. You sure could not understand why she was cheating on you. Wear those horns with pride, man! How do you meet age-appropriate women with kind faces, intelligent eyes, and athletic strides in this town? Who would date a straight, white, Christian man who works in the White House? Just don’t mention being a bad Catholic. Women don’t like that. At least not Republican women. Tell them you are spiritual. Are you gonna get a new girlfriend in the White House? You hate having your dick do all your thinking. Comes with the territory. The biological imperative: spread your seed as far and as wide as possible. You are doing your duty. Get over it.
Strategic analysis: what do you have to offer? Divorced dad living in a rented one-bedroom condo owned by a rich RINO doing a favor for a consultant whose firm works with the campaign. Twenty-minute walk from The White House. Command central for the world. Furnished for you. Tasteful. Clean. Nice Lines. Art on the wall picked out by a decorator. Everything in its place. Orderly. You’d like some more red, white, and blue in the décor. Something patriotic. Not ashamed that you love your country. You have a framed photo of Timmy, Chessie, Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife, and you on the nightstand next to your bed. You are all smiling like the perfect family. Funny how effectively people can hide all the pain, hurt, and rage when the photographer asks you to smile. Smilephorific. Sofa in the living room folds out if your kids ever come to visit. Probably not. Privately, interstate travel a no-no. The one thing you and Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife can agree on. Daily Zooms for foreseeable future. Publicly, of course, you’ll be advising people that interstate travel will help stimulate the economy. Stimulate. The. Economy. Job One. Open up those legs, er, the economy. What’s good for GM is good for America.
Man your age passing you looks important. Money dripping from him. Tailored suit. Thousand-dollar shoes. On his way to petition someone else important? Who is around to still accept petitioners? No one. Maybe he just wants to be seen. By people like you. People who work in the White House, or who are about the work in the White House. Out of sight, out of mind. He’s keeping people mindful. Eighty percent of success. You are wearing your blue or gray Brooks Brothers suits, red or conservatively striped ties, white dress shirts, and wing-tips. Required uniform in this town, one of the White House guys advised you. Make sure your suits fit. Blend in like a wallflower. Keep your eyes open. Read the room. Displays seriousness of purpose. Laugh if POTUS laughs. Less ammunition for the haters. Remember Tom Daschle’s red eyeglasses? AOC’s Plain Black Jacket?
You never saw red eyeglasses in Chicago. You miss Chicago. Evanston, really. It’s been more than 20 years since you left? Still a boy, on your way to college in New Haven. Still rooting for the Cubs, not so much the Bears. Bulls forever. Hawks in their good years. Your Pounder from BFE told you to get rid of Cubs memorabilia on your desk. “Three sports we care about and only three,” he told you. “State’s football, high school girls’ basketball, and State’s spring football.” He would have fired you if you’d worn red eyeglasses. Couldn’t fire you over Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife.
Passing the big Protestant church. You broke your promise to Holy Mother Church and raised Timmy and Chessie as Protestants. Children of Martin Luther. Not you. You stopped sucking at mother church’s teat. Chicago Jesuits taught you how to be disappointed by the pope and his bishops. Priests you’ve known were okay. Never diddled you. What’s wrong with you? Weren’t good enough to be diddled? You were a nice, white, plump, compliant boy. Marked to be diddled. Diddle dee diddle dum. You miss Holy Mother Church, but now you can’t go back. Catholics now suspect. Maybe try Episcopalians. No, you don’t make enough money. What denomination is safe these days? Maybe give this big Protestant church a try. Close by your skybox and the White House. Are they still protesting? Wonder if the choir’s any good? Christ, they’ll make you pledge. Even if you’re getting killed by child support.
Oh, look, another bank. Then another and another. Bank lobbyists in BFE once told you that banks are signals that you’re in a good neighborhood. If there’s no bank near you, you are living in the ghetto. No shortage of banks where the RINO housed you. You are in a good neighborhood. Groceries, dry cleaners, gyms, and banks abound. Everything’s modern or being modernized. Shiny. Sleek. Glistening. You are in the land of plenty. Land ‘O Plenty. It’s good to be the party in power. You get what you want. You get to live in shiny, sleek, glistening, and modern boxes in the sky, with great views and surrounded by plenty. What else is important except getting what you want?
Christ, you haven’t had your hair cut in six months. Product can only go so far. Realtor lady liked your hair. Should call her. And they’re going to take your photo today for your badge. Part of your permanent record. Your permanent record of adulation – or ignominy? That is, if you walk through those gates. You can still turn around. You need this job. Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife has insisted that you take this job, for that g.d. child support. You would never have met her had you not moved to BFE. You wanted politics and saw an opportunity to latch on to an up-and-comer if you were willing to move deeper into the heart of the real America. She was doing her residency in the heart of real America. You met at the governor’s press conference at her hospital. Tinder for docs and pols? She possessed confidence in spades. Nothing sexier in a woman than confidence. And you were cute. Are. Everything was working out for you. You were gliding through life with the doctor wife and the perfect kids. Golden couple. Golden calf. Then she lost a big malpractice suit. The hospital talked about firing her. She lost her confidence. Then she f’d your boss, the governor in BFE. Then you found out. She ended the affair, but she was changed. Maybe you leaked something about Pound-her’s affair to a reporter, and he lost a bid for re-election. Maybe Cincinnati will be good for her. Timmy’s birthday is next week. He’ll be…thirteen. Chessie is still eleven. Great kids. Kids are great. Kids are doing great. That’s what you tell people when they ask about your great kids, who are doing great. You don’t think they’re doing so great. They’re in middle school. Mean Girls middle school. Mean, mean girls. Boys are no better than murderers. Redrum era syob. You taught middle school in the Protestant church Sunday school. Scary, scary kids. Tweens are the worst human beings.
The Trumpinator scares the bejesus out of you. Be-fucking-jesus. He’s so powerful. So smart. So talented. So underappreciated. He’d take Putin in a cage match. Sumo wrestling. Putin would be pancaked. History will judge POTUS kindly. He will destroy Cuomo. Perry Como. You could not believe that the Dems forced Biden out after the sex scandal. Drafted Cuomo, er, Perry Como. What a joke. He’s a goon. The Democrat Party? Sanctimonious prigs. Took all the fun out of politics. And then he picked that black woman for Veep. They don’t stand a chance, do they? Twenty-three skidoo. Will you meet POTUS today? Heart palpitations. Mr. President, may I present your new press secretary? I love my wife, but oh! You kid. You may not be a worker essential to him, but you’re still an essential worker. You have a great job title. You’re still alive. Kellyanne critical in the hospital. Hope died. That’s what the public knows. Everyone’s hunkered down. When this is all over, they’ll look at your resume and be impressed. High pay. Perks. Dripping money. McLean. Driver. Trophy wife. Just don’t get fired or die. You’ve never been in the White House.
Alexander Hamilton. Statue of him stares at you. You had tickets to take Timmy and Chessie to see “Hamilton” in April at a regional theater. Performance cancelled. Another COVID victim. America’s original rapper? Founder of our modern financial system. Visionary, politician, dueler. Dead before his time. What’s his quote? Those who stand for nothing fall for everything. Sounds like P.T. Barnum. Tragic. But at least we have the musical. And your inspiration. You are not throwing away your shot. You’re young, scrappy, and hungry. Maybe not so young. Nothing makes you scrappy and hungry like being swept out of office with a redneck governor who placed the horns firmly on you. Pounder. Pound-her. You yanked that nail out.
You’re at the White House gate. They’re checking the list. Checking your temp. You’re in. You are 80 percent there. You are ready. Ready to make your kids proud. Ready to fill Dr. Mrs. Ex-Wife’s black heart with regret. Ready to make your resume a blockbuster. That’s right. Blockbuster. Smash success. Everything’s great. I won’t fuck you over, I’m Mr. Blockbuster. Carried in the arms of cheerleaders. Mr. Blockbuster.