Army of Fun


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Friday, January 17, 2003

Dick Cheney: Phone Pal
Part Two: None of that stuff I promised last time...still no pay-off...morbid imaginings...

The white on white on white of the chez Cheney left me dumb-founded for the second time that evening. Dumb-founded and afraid to touch anything. While I took it all in the girlfriend's father, let's call him Leslie because if that had been his name I would have felt less threatened by him than I actually did, made our introductions to the Cheneyette. She was pleased to meet us. She wasn't sure where Dick was, showing some other guests around the house she thought, but he'd be back shortly. In the meantime we shoould help ourselves to a drink, she said gesturing towards a bar, white lucite and mirrors, in a room to our left, which in addition to the bar contained about ten or so other people.

And then, just then, from our right came a menacing barking laugh, and we all turned towards it as our fight or flight response kicked in. A door opened and in waddled Batman's sneering nemesis the Penguin though without his trademark tophat or umbrella. This was some party. But wait, despite some broad similarities of appearance it wasn't the Penguin at all. No, that tottering gait, that resplendent pate revealed by a receding hairline, that now all too familiar sneering rictus, belonged to, I realized, former Defense Secretary and serial heart attack victim Dick Cheney, the man of the hour himself. And he had spotted us. And he came over to welcome us to his home.

Leslie, as we're calling him, stepped forward to take Dick's hand. Dick was glad he could make it, and who were these other fine people, Dick asked as his eyes slid over our little group lingering on my girlfriend a little too long for my liking. Leslie pointed us each out in turn, his wife, his daughter, me.

"Pleased to meet you, Mr....uh, Secretary Cheney," I said.

The corner of his mouth not permanently congealed into a sneer curled up in what I chose to believe was a smile.
"Call me Dick."

A severe looking woman next to him harrumphed.
"And this is my wife, Lynne."

We all said hello as she took us in, lingering on me a little to long for my liking.

Finally, Dick suggested, thank God, that we all refresh ourselves. Dick led the way while my girl and I fell to the rear.

"This is so weird," she said.

"Yeah," though weird wasn't the word for it. Downright creepy was more like it. I couldn't explain why but when I shook Dick's hand a chill had gone through my body. This is a man, I'd thought, this is man who if he believed it would benefit him, would eat babies.

At the bar we got our drinks. Gin and tonic for me. Dick had a Manhattan that he drained off in one amazing gulp. He gestured towards the Latino bartender.
"Say what you will about the Messicans," he said, "and there's plenty to say, but they sure as hell know how to make a drink." He barked with laughter at his own "joke" while the rest of us stood in silence. Dick looked at me and I could see it occur to him that I might very well be "Messican".

"No offense," he pleaded.

"Too late," I said.

"I apologize. Some of my best friends' grandchildren are Messican."

"The word is Mexican."
"Sorry. I really am, kid." He tried to smile again which he really shouldn't do.

"You got gumption. I like that," he said and clapped his hand on my shoulder, and again I got a sickening flash of Dick sitting down to a repast of infants. Dick digging into a repast of rack of baby, baby au jus, kung pao baby explaining between mouthfuls that, heh, it's good for the heart, slurp, heh-heh, thins the blood, lotsa the good cholesterol, heh, chomp.

Shuddering, I followed Dick's lead a chugged my drink. And got another. This was so not my scene. Retired military men talked about past glories and new weapons systems, young lobbyist chatted up graying CEOs, older women discussed the current state of education their faces monuments of disgust ("if we only still had school prayer"), President Clinton was repeatedly slandered. I had several more drinks.

Next: all that stuff I promised last time, I swear. Groping! "Gnomes"! Intrigue!

Fyrste, 11:04 AM

Monday, January 13, 2003

Dick Cheney: Phone Pal
part one: in which a set-up goes on for far too long...the Cheneys' land-scaping is appraised...I enter the chambers of Dick

Some years ago I saw, dated, co-habitated with a more than reasonably attractive woman who broke my heart. Admittedly, my being caught swapping spit with her just shy of eighteen years old cousin might have been an issue. On the other hand, she, the squeeze not her under-aged cousin, left me for a lawyer so its not like she's a good person either. Which really is neither here nor there. No, what's important here is that through her, or more accurately through her father, I first met Dick Cheney.

I'd been assigned to attend an products expo in DC for the industry rag (what industry and what rag is unimportant) for which I was working at the time. I was a low man on the totem pole there and didn't usually do that sort of thing, but a conspiracy of absences, vacations and busy schedules led to the head of my department appearing at my work-station one afternoon.

"Want to go to DC," he asked? I hadn't expected the question and wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Was it a personal inquiry, work-related, a prelude to sexual harrassment?

"Um, sure," I said; the perfect non-affirmative affirmation.

"Great," he replied. And then it was all blah, blah next week, blah, info, blah, travel arrangements, blah.

I called my girlfriend to tell her the news and asked if she wanted to go. She was like okay. Her father lived out there, he was small player but a player nonetheless in the military-industrial complex (once in the military then a purveyor of deadly product), and he was always complaining he didn't get to see her as often as he liked; and the company would put us up and she could use her frequent miles for the trip, it sounded like a good idea.

A couple days later her father called. He'd love to see her, but he'd been invited to a dinner party at Dick Cheney's home. We could come if we wanted to.

"Dick Cheney, huh," I said. "Wasn't he George Bush's uh, wasn't he in the Bush Administration?"

"Yeah, something."

"I don't know if that's my scene."

"C'mon it'll be fun."

"You're kidding, right."


"Well, maybe."

So okay, now the plans included a night at the Cheneys'. Anything to keep the piece*, right? The days passed as they do, there was a flight, there was a hotel check-in, there was an expo which I couldn't tell you a thing about even if I wanted to. There was the arrival of her dad and his wife at our hotel, there was awkward conversation, there was the ride to the Cheneys' during which there was more awkward conversation. Finally, there was the Cheney abode in suburban NoVa.

Ah, Dick Cheney, how your demi-manse exceeded my expectations; the walk-way lined with moving model oil-pumps, the lawn and trees darkly glistening under a sheen of that same rarified petroleum (despite the oil-pump motiff we had trouble believing that they would coat the grounds with it until I knelt down, plucked a slick blade from the earth and touched it to my tongue, "thirty-weight," I intoned authoritatively, though actually I had no idea), the lawn jockeys of various hues cavorting upon the shimmering black expanse (and, was it just me or did it seem the peach toned jockeys were over-seeing the cavortings of their darker brethren), and, here and there, what appeared to be quite explicit erotic garden gnomes locked in flagrante.

What could I do faced with such a scene? I gaped. I giggled. I gently elbow-nudged my girlfriend and raised my eyebrows. I tried to determine whether the display made me more or less interested in meeting the Cheneys. I wondered if they'd have a doorman that evening.

They don't. One of their daughters was doing door duty. I don't know which one. Back then I didn't know there was anything to know about "which one". The interior was a blaze of white: white carpets, white furniture with white cushions, white furniture with glass surfaces, the white country-style knick-knacks-- a white basket with white flowers and a white teddy bear inside, stuffed carcasses of albino beasts, pictures of white historical/political figures. I guess you could call the place "Wyoming tasteful."

*Unintentional Freudian spelling slip, but it works.

Next: my dinner with Dick...a lustful groping...the truth about the "garden gnomes"

Fyrste, 9:31 PM