— George H. W. Bush
41st U.S. President
(b. June 12, 1924)
Writing a sequel to last Sunday’s diatribe about dramatic changes America could expect if I were president was never my intent.
But then Michelle called.
Figuring I owed a few minutes to such a special lady, I chose to hear her out. Besides, I was off deadline, the press was already running and this tough Monday morning was almost over.
Too, she was calling long distance and had interrupted her own hectic schedule to call our newspaper, so she darned well wanted, and expected, to talk to a male voice, and not a voice-mail.
Women with this kind of clout have always had me at “hello.” After exchanging pleasantries, we cut to the chase.
“I liked some of your thoughts,” Michelle acknowledged of last week’s musings. “What else you got ... if you were president?”
Perplexed, I reflected on my prior ideas.
“I’ve already given 12,” I reminded her. “You know, those orders about the shortened work week, neckties, ladies’ shoes — the latter of which I’m sure interested you — video game violence, basketball, tattoos, TV advertising, profanity in Hollywood flicks, buttermilk and lots of personal plans for Republicans and Democrats alike — ”
“ — And all very good strategies,” she assured me, while adding, “especially the one about women’s shoes. I’m impressed.”
“That’s why I call my presidency a no-nonsense administration,” I touted. “What’s good for the soul of the country is good for the sole of the foot.”
“My bunions are grateful. But what else?” she repeated. “What’s beyond those dirty dozen? I’m sure you’ve got a few more treasures up your sleeve. Let’s just say ... inquiring minds want to know.”
I assured her I had given my presidential priorities some additional thought.
“Those 12 I mentioned last week? They’re just the tip of the iceberg,” I offered.
Without further interruption — Michelle is a good listener when she wants to be — I rattled off a few other changes that would define my administration.
1. TV commercials promoting foolproof diets will be banned from the airwaves seven days a week from 5 to 7 p.m. In most households, this is supper time. Because many Americans dine in front of a TV, or within hearing distance, their meal does not need the distraction nor the disturbance of a slimmed-down celebrity professing the virtues of the latest miracle diet. Nothing in life is more infuriating than taking the first bite of a chili cheese dog only to hear, “I lost 559 pounds in only two weeks!”
2. All product packaging — whether paper, plastic, cardboard or other — will be simple to remove, requiring little effort, minimal sweat and few words of exasperation from the consumer. Electronics manufacturers, from nose hair trimmers to home theaters, will be among the first targeted by this firm executive action.
3. Restaurants, from fast-food to five star, will be required to maintain a temperature setting of no less than 75 degrees, year-round. Gone are the days when diners must wear padded overcoats, mittens and earmuffs to enjoy their meals whether on the Fourth of July or Christmas Eve. Violators will get some cold surprises from their local health department inspectors ... by order of the White House.
4. Cellphones will be banned from the following locations: Theaters, restaurants, libraries, museums, grocery stores, department stores, shoe stores, home improvement stores, doctors’ lobbies, dentists’ lobbies, office lobbies, front lobbies, back lobbies, side lobbies, greenways, government buildings, post offices, sports arenas, banks, newspaper offices, hospitals, nursing homes, sidewalks, bridges, ramps, schools, universities, hallways, highways, byways and roadways ... and, oh yeah, moving vehicles.
5. Recycling will be required of all jurisdictions — cities, counties, anything in between, all households and any individuals. Penalties will be severe and disturbingly unfair.
6. New regulations will be imposed on the theater industry: Popcorn purchases will no longer require a fixed rate or variable loan. Viewers of 3-D flicks will not be socked with an added charge. Annoying auditorium whisperers will be physically escorted from the premises, banned from all in-state movie houses for a period not to exceed six months on first offense, and will be branded with a Scarlet W atop their foreheads whose crimson glow will fade no sooner than within one month, 30 showers or whichever comes first.
7. Facebook users who abuse this communications tool through senseless profanity, mindless insults and unforgivable lack of common courtesies will have their home computers, tablets, iPads and other e-Gizmos confiscated during an angry raid from the White House-sanctioned Play Nice Patrol, aka PNP.
8. And, by executive and unconditional decree, a woman must be elected to the presidency of the United States no later than —
“ — Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Michelle interrupted, her voice shrill with glee. “Well, gotta go, but it’s been great talking to you. Keep up the great work!”
“But wait!” I pleaded. “There’s more! I’m just getting started! Besides, you and I haven’t spoken in years! How’s the — ”
“ — No time!” she countered. “I got people waiting for me outside! Send me an email. Bye!”
At the sound of her click, I returned my receiver to its resting place. Leaning back in the office chair, I clasped my hands behind my head and reflected on those old school days when Michelle and I were just kids. Yeah, back in the day, that gal was my first lady.
“Michelle McGillicuddy ... you were a heartbreaker!” I mumbled into empty air. “Where did you get off to and how could I have let you go?”
My mellow mood was broken by the frantic voice of the receptionist who had transferred Michelle’s call and who came rushing into my office.
“That lady on the phone ... were you just talking to Michelle — ”
“ — Yeah,” I nodded with a knowing smile. “... McGillicuddy.”
“Huh? But I thought — ”
“ — Michelle McGillicuddy,” I repeated, now sitting upright. “We go way back.”
The receptionist wore a puzzled frown.
“Who’d you think I meant?” I asked.