Saturday, November 29, 2008

My Dinner with Bill

I sit down at the bar and am immediately greeted by a gritty blond and a Rolling Rock draft. God, it's been so long. I used to be a regular here at Clagaire's, my favorite Irish pub, the place I always used to go when I wanted to get back in touch with my roots. But that was a lifetime ago. I live in the suburbs now--DC but a faint memory.

My guest slumps into the bar. His designer suit is wrinkled and tan and is hanging awkwardly off his bulky frame. His goatee is graying and spreading haggardly across his face. I wave him over, and he sits down next to me, wreaking of pathos.

"Wanna beer?" I offer.

"Yeah. Bud. And a shot of Jack."

"Not tequila?"

He looks offended. "No. Why?"

"Oh, no reason," I quickly say.

I don't want to cause my boy any more heart ache. He's had a rough year. Chock full of disappointment. Who needs to add insult to his innumerable injuries?

"So, how you doing, Bill?" I ask.

"Fine, Bill," he says, stonily. Suddenly, his lower lip starts quivering. "Just fine," he blubbers.

"You should try the corn beef and potatoes," I quickly offer. "They use cilantro."

"Cilantro, Bill?"

"Yeah. Cilantro, Bill. The cook's Mexican."

"Ahh," he says, mistily, "mi gente."

"Yeah. Your gente."

See, my boy and I have a lot in common. We both inexplicably call ourselves "Bill." We could both stand to lose a few pounds; we're both Third Culture Kids; both products of immigration. He's half-Mexican, half-white. I'm half-Jamaican, half-African-American. He's bilingual ... I could stand to lose a few pounds. We both have an utterly magical way with the ladies. And no matter how hard we try, no matter how immensely qualified we are, we both tend to end up screwed in the end quarters.

"Commerce?" he squeaks, as our corn beef comes. "Secretary of Commerce, Bill?!"

"I know, Bill," I say, heavily. "Another round, please?!"

Too late.

"I served 14 years in Congress," Richardson starts, heatedly. "I was deputy majority whip. I was chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. I've negotiated with Saddam Hussein, met with Slobadan Milosevic, the Sudanese, and those wacky North Koreans."

"They are wacky."

"I've been Secretary of Energy and the US ambassador to the United Nations. I've brokered peace--no matter how temporary--between the Palestinians and Israelis. I strengthened the UN's Environmental Programme, promoting 'ecologically sustainable development'--whatever the hell that means. I'm actually the governor of a state, worked for Kissinger's State Department, and I've still got a mean, fucking curveball."

"I know, Bill. You're preaching to the converted."

"Did I mention I have a way with the ladies?"

"Well, Bill, that goes without saying." I pat him on his beefcakey shoulder. "If life were a meritocracy, you'd be President-Elect. You were the only candidate who was truly qualified for that office."

"But Hillary stole my Experience argument, and now she's stolen my State Department."

"The brother screwed you, what can I say?"

"Commerce," he weeps. "It's like being rejected by Blair, rebuffed by Jo, Tootie and Natalie don't want anything to do with you, and, next thing you know, you're screwing Mrs. Garrett, wondering where it all went wrong."

"Ah, yes," I sigh, heavily. "The Facts of Life."

"What the hell am I supposed to do with Commerce, Bill?"

"I don't know, Bill," I confess. "I guess you could tour the country, test out all those weigh stations on the highways."

He groans.

"Human trafficking?"

He sniffles.

"Ooh. I got it!" I pipe up. "You could 'investigate' the dangers of internet porn. Hold hearings. 'Interview' some of the stars. You'll be swimming in silicon for months, my brother!"

That seems to do the job.

"Hm," he ruminates. "I wonder what Vanessa del Rio's doing these days."

"Hell, the way you have with the ladies, Bill," I smile, "you come March."

"You're a good man, Bill Campbell."

"And you're a great one, Bill Richardson."

We raise our shot glasses and down more Jack, my patriotic duty done for the day.


ratphooey said...

Oh, that's good!

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Brilliant! All the things I wanted to say but don't have the creativity or wherewithall to put all those thoughts down coherently.