If Things Had Gone Differently

I was just talking to my high school math teacher on the phone. She
lives in Massachusetts, where I was raised. She says Obama is in
Framingham, That’s right beside my home town of Sudbury, and more
importantly, it’s just a stone’s throw away from Natick, where I
worked as a hostess at Bickford’s Pancake House.
What I wouldn’t give to greet President Obama with a stack of shiny
pancake house menus, and a bright, “How many in your party?”
I’d seat them in a booth, probably in Tony’s section. She was
such a great waitress, she could carry fifteen empty coffee cups at
once or three full dinner plates on one arm. I’d bring them their
waters, their bottomless coffee pot, and highly recommend the house
special, the “Baked Apple Pancake.” Then I’d scurry back to the cash
register, and wait for them to come pay. I was never very good t the
cash register. I used to take the cash, and put it in a drawer at the
hostess station until I could sort it out, and make the cash register
reconcile with what I had.
I’d keep staring at the President’s party, thinking of what I
want to say to him, and what excuse I could use to make my way back to
him. If only he’d spill, but he doesn’t seem like the type. Eventually
I would have decided to play to my strength by approaching the table
with a damp cloth, and wiping off the syrups, as if this was normal
service in the middle of their meal. It should be, of course. The
terrible truth is: No matter how clever the engineering on a syrup
container, It leaks.
I think I’d start by blurting out something like,
” We wouldn’t want the President
of the United States walking around with a big drop of syrup on his
suit. You know how quick that’d be up on YouTube. You saw what
happened to Sarah Palin when she had stuff written on her hand, and
the poor thing was just trying to remember stuff she wanted to say. If
you spill syrup down your front, how many seconds before you think
some waitress with a cell phone is gonna go tight on your tie? Not to
even mention the fact that your wife, the First Lady, is leading the
fight against obesity, and here you are with a large
house special Baked Apple pancake and a waxed souffle cup filled with
whipped butter. I don’t think you’ve had good luck in your Presidency
either, sir. Syrup on your tie is likely to set the Tea Party people
off again.
They make me nervous, sir, those Tea Party people. I don’t know
what they’re for, I mean what they support, other than themselves.
They sure do write mean posters though, don’t you think? They paint
them themselves, too. Can you even imagine them going to the craft
store for poster board, and poster paint, then going home, spreading
newspaper out to paint on, careful to get cups of water to rinse their
brushes in, so their colors don’t mix, and painting those sentences? I
wonder if they do it as a group, so someone has to keep saying, ‘I
need the black. Who has the black? Do you think I should put DEATH
PANEL in balloon letters?’”
I think you took the reins at just a shit time in history, sir,
if I can be frank. I don’t know where everyone went. You said you were
going to reform healthcare during your campaign, and you got elected.
Then you started to work on it, to deliver on you promise, and people
started screaming, poster painting, and spitting. And the Democratic
party shattered like a Flintstone glass. Being a Democrat meant so
little there for a while. It was like saying you were an insect. Yes,
but there are a million kinds. So that win you pulled off was
spectacular, sir. Congratulations.
Can I get you some more coffee, sir. It’s free. Bottomless pot,
you know. I’m not really your waitress, but it would be my pleasure. I
still don’t think you ask enough of us, sir. Did you get my letter? I
wrote to you right when you took office, and I suggested that you call
upon us to save, give, drive less, collect scrap metal, or something,
and I don’t think you ever have. I think you probably just forgot.
Things got busy right away. I mean, you got slammed. Afghanistan,
World Economic Crisis, Swine Flu. You had to deal with those Bozos who
flew private jets to Washington to ask the government for bailout
money for their car companies. Oh, my god. You were up against it from
the start. And, fuck, you got a puppy.
It has been rough. I think you are doing a good job, sir. I mean,
I’ll be honest, I voted for you, and I have supported your healthcare
bill every step of the way, but I don’t really understand it. I’ll bet
I could read it on line somewhere, too, but that wouldn’t help. I’ve
never even read my insurance policy. I’ll bet that bill has
‘wherefores and parties of the first parties.’ I’m never going to
understand it. I mean, I don’t think I’m stupid. It’s just that
there’s a lot going on, and a lot to understand. That’s why I voted
for you. I know it’s naive, sir, but I had this idea that you
sincerely want good things for us, and that that’s what motivates you.
I mean, I didn’t buy the Franklin Mint Limited Edition Plate, but I
have believed in you. Either I’m right, or you should double your
handlers’ salaries.
I’m sorry for the wait on the ‘Happy Face’ pancake order for your
Secret Service guy. One of the bus boys keeps getting high from the
whipped cream can, and them the cream sprays out all lifeless, and not
whippy. The cook had to start over with some fresh cakes. While we
wait, if I could be so bold, sir. There are a few things that are left
over from the Bush administration I’m sure, but now it’s your
administration, and they’re still going on. For example, sir, I
believe we still have some Domestic Terrorism laws that scoop with a
rather wide net, and take in the dolphins along with the tuna, so to
speak. I know of some animal rights activists who were arrested under
these laws, and face long prison terms for relatively simple protests.
I mean free speech is supposed to be free speech. I think the Swine
flu is under control now isn’t it? Could you do something about that
thing, where the CIA takes suspects to other countries to be tortured,
because ‘We don’t do that here,’? I mean, there is still a lot of Big
Brothery stuff that I think you should remedy as soon as you can.
Hey, I didn’t even know there was a nuclear arms deal with Russia
in the works. Good one. Healthcare, boom, nuclear arms deal, boom.
Take that naysayers. Could I get you more butter, sir? Covertly?
I told you that baked apple thing was great, huh? Well, thanks
for listening, sir. By the way, I’m gonna be at The Birchmere in
Alexandria, Virginia on October sixteenth. No pressure, but if you’re
around, I can get you in. I know some people. Well, I should let you
go. I know, I talk a lot, huh? I wish I was good with words like you
are, though, sir. I’m telling you. You do what I think is in your
heart, and you could knock old Abe right off the penny.”
By this time he’d be itching to get out of there, no doubt. I’d
slip back to my place at the Hostess station and man the cash
register. He’d practically die when he saw me there.
“Hi, Mr. President, it’s me again. Did you enjoy your meal? How
was your service? I’ll take that cash from you. I think you’re wise to
pay cash,sir. How’s that credit card consumer Bill of Rights coming? I
can’t understand a damned thing that’s on my credit card bill. I just
pay it, and hope I don’t bump into Suzy Orman.
Would you like a balloon, sir? Pick any color.” That was part of
my Hostess job at the pancake house as well. I inflated balloons and
tied them to plastic sticks for kids to take on their way out.
“That’s perfect sir, the red looks great with your tie. Oh, hold
on a minute, let me get a cloth. You do have a bit of syrup on your

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