Honestly, I half expect the Squid to pull this on me, to set us on a crash course for destruction, then disappear and leave me holding the bag. I admit he's never yet quite done that, but . . . but it seems like him, doesn't it? The devious . . . thing.
And you elected him. With a 78% majority. He's a Squid with a mandate.
America, I hate you.
I've moved in to the White House now, and presided over my first session of Congress. Unless there is a deadlock on a vote, "presiding over the Senate" pretty much means sitting at a very fancy podium and banging a gavel. Oh, and in my case, having everyone come up and tell me how pretty I am and paw at me. Richard Shelby was nice, in a sinister the-devil-meets-Boss-Hogg way (I imagine he'll get along well with the new Commander-in-Chief), and smelled OK. Some of these old Senators— my God! They have breath like a medieval village idiot's, and teeth as crooked, spotty and occasional as tombstones in a potter's field. Senator Byrd, of West Virginia? Friendly enough guy, but breath that could singe your eyebrows, and BO . . . he smells worse than the goddamn chimps that the Squid has watching me all the time.
I'm not really sure what the rest of my duties will include, as this seems to vary a lot depending on the whims of which president you serve under. And the president I'm serving under varies a lot depending upon his whims. John Adams described his year as VP as "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived." Which sounds a lot classier than what John Nance Garner had to say about it in 1937: "not worth a pitcher of warm piss." I'm inclined to agree with ole Nancy Boy who, I might add, ultimately realized that accepting the position was "the worst damn fool mistake I ever made.". And he worked for FDR! I'm serving under Chthulhu's kid brother. The only thing the two have in common is that they both need Magic Legs to get around Capitol Hill. Oh, and that they both have a plan refered to as the "New Deal." I can't really divuldge the details of the Giant Squid's "New Deal," but let's just say that if you have more than two daughters and your credit record is bad . . . well, there might be a whole new way to finance that Hummer you want.
As for President Squid himself, he isn't here yet. They've had to do some wicked reconstruction of the White House to accomodate him. People are up in arms about it, not surprisingly (also, disapointingly, not literally.) The White House is history made real for many Americans. Never mind that it really isn't that old, in the grand scheme of things. It dates back to what, the Civil War?
I've been to Europe, to London, to Spain. I've seen walls that are two thousand years old. A house that is not even clearing a few hundred years hardly seems worth worrying about.
Nixon put a bowling alley in the basement. JFK had an olympic-pool installed. FDR had a heated pool for therapy installed. It has ping-pong tables, a putting green, a jogging track, a movie theater. Teddy Roosevelt's kids kept a pony and an ostritch in the attic. 132 rooms, 9 known bathrooms and 7 secret bathrooms cleverly hidden in the walls opened by knocking, pressing knots in the wood, pulling candlesticks. This is true. This is the castle of the leader of the free world, and it is littered with secrets as if it were designed by nine year old boys (nine year old boys, who, it seems are worried that they might wet themselves if they get lost on the way to the potty). As Rob would say, I shit you not. Incidentally, Rob loves it. We might be walking down the hall, discussing lunch, and he'll shout "To the Bat Poles", sprint down the hall, throw open the grandfather-clock secret door and slide down the brass poll. It's nice, because he usually gets lost in the sub-basement, which means I don't have to talk to him for a couple of hours.
I've been memorizing the passageways, the paths the codes for this past week. It's hard work. I have no idea how the Squid, with his fluid memory and his fluid existence will remember a tenth of this.
I can't believe we've— you've placed the world's largest nuclear arsenal in the grip of a 35 ton schizophrenic Monster From the Deep.
My office is still being outfitted to my liking. The White House has a full-time staff of decorators that do nothing but respond to my every whim of style. It's fun, in a very girly way, a way that I rarely let myself indulge in. It's like playing the Sims for real. If I say, "This wall I want green and that wall I want burnt umber," then the army of designers nods and scurries off and within the hour my desires have become reality. And they've made it look. Regardless of what obscene demand I make, they somehow both comply and make it look good.
Power. That's what this feeling is.
Pretty much the only furnishing, just now, is the Vice-Presidential desk. This think is a huge slab of wood, and was Teddy Roosevelt's desk when he was President, and has been the VPs desk since. Open the top drawer, and shove all of your Post-Its and pens out of the way, and you can see where all the VPs who used it have signed. There's Al Gore, and Nelson Rockefeller and ole Dan Quayle. Before I opened this drawer, I didn't even know Nelson Rockefeller had been VP. Another product of American public education, that's me.
The only object in my office right now, besides the Vice-Presidential desk, is a ninety-gallon aquarium, with devious crabs in it. These aren't like Rob's crabs, those big creepies he keeps in a kiddie pool in his place in Detroit. These are little fellas, cuttling land crabs with little tranceiver packs glued to their backs. They watch. They report.
Again, quoth Rob, I shit you not.
To the Bat Poles!
To accomodate the Squid's girth and his watery needs, giant tubes are being installed in the ceilings throughout the White House. A giant concrete, steel and glass enclosure— structuralkly a near duplicate of his tank in Detroit— is being built into the Oval Office. He doesn't trust this job in the hands of the usual White House architects and contractors, so Devo and Los Bros. Ramirez are doing it all themselves. This is why it isn't done yet. And why it won't be done for weeks, still.
Tubes that look like nothing so much as a Happy PlayLand from McDonald's snake out of the Oval Office and into the basement, down the hallways, every where. The White House has been invaded by the world's largest Habitrail, and the historical societies are freaking out. (Need I remind them that Truman gutted this place after bombing Hiroshima? Need I remind them that most of the furniture in this place dates to 1961?)
Heartless monster runs for public office and wins with a suspiciously overwhelmning majority amid massive voting irregularities? No one makes a peep. Two Mexican-Americans and a Wigger from Detroit start laying pipe in the Presidential Palace, and palsied white hairs pitch a fit and lambast us in the media. America, America, tsk, tsk, tsk.
The Squid is here, this week, in his exo-skeleton, looking like a tap dancing robotic spider, or like Brain from the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons my nephews fetishize. But the Squid is a dozen times larger and more successful. The floors of the White House can't support the ridiculous weight of his velocitator yet, so he is confined to the sub-most basement and the grounds. He's here to give his State of the Union address, which I wrote. Rob, as Press Secretary, should have written it, but his first several drafts began with "Where my bitches at?" and really had far too many dick jokes to play in the international media, so the Squid made me write it. I wrote it, but he delivered and garbled and mangled it into the usual hebephrenic word salad that he spouts so that we all underestimate him and think of him as a little child, while he plots and experiemnts and kills.
Or because he can't talk any other way, because he thinks sideways and inside-out in time, because he is nothing like us, and talking with a voice to him is as impossibly awkward as writing love poems by clenching our anuses would be to us.
"You should be as old as I," quoth Hamlet "if, like a crab, you learned to walk backwards."
As mentioned, Rob has been installed as temporary Press Secretary, although he's still spending most of his time in Detroit. The Squid has him flying back and forth in Air Force One, running the kid ragged, but Rob loves it because he can smoke pot right in the cabin: "Mile high, Molls; I'm gettin' a Mile High." He says that the older captain, Ron, says that it's cool, and that Reagan used to hit a blue presidential bong with the Nation's Seal on the side while travelling trans-Atlantically. On the one hand, I doubt the accuracy of Rob's reportage and the veracity of the claim that he is recounting in his garbled way, but then I remember Reagan telling Gorbachev to "Tear down the wall!", and the Pink Floyd music swells in my head and I think "It could be, it just maybe could be."
Like the White House itself, with its passages and firepoles, there's more in heaven and earth than . . . whatever.
Sang is Chief of Staff. The Squid is still working on his Cabinet, and is misunderstanding the entire process— or understanding it in is awful sideways way. So far his Cabinet includes the Ex-President Bush, and is a sealed enclosure made of oak, with brass fittings. The old President looks pretty scared, in his temporary cage, and I can't really blame him. Maybe later I'll go and visit with him, take him some snacks and crossword puzzles. I never pitied him before, but now . . . Now I pity everyone.
And I sit here, the most powerful woman in the world— supposedly— terrified of a handful of crabs in an aquarium. I open my desk drawer and shove all the pens and crap to the side, and look at the signatures. "John Nance Garner" is a flowing, lyric line of refined cursive, but pressed so hard into the wood that it is more engraved than written; almost 70 years past, and the tension still springs up off the ink in tiny splinters and an almost palpable crackle of bottled rage and despair. I feel for you, John, for us, for the warm pitcher of piss we're in.
To the Bat Poles!
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Copyright (c) 2000, 2004, David Erik Nelson, Fritz Swanson, Morgan Johnson