We’ve all got our coffee and cigars and are sitting down except for President Clinton who’s looking around the Oval Office.
“Where’s the green leather recliner?”
“Laura moved it to the attic; said it looked un-dignefied.”
When President Carter insists he has to leave for Somalia, President Bush stops him.
“Here, I wonche ta take the resta these cookies to yer kids,” he says , indicating the Oreos on the silver tray, “tell ‘em Amurica aint fergot ‘em.”
With that done, the president hands President Clinton and me each a puzzle and tells us to “turn ‘em upside down on yer desk ‘til we ready to start,” even though neither of us has a desk, just the copies of Money magazine he’s given us to support our puzzles.
“Now we gotta git the timekeeper. C’mon in here Miss Yokum.”
Whereupon a young woman enters who’s a dead ringer for Jessica Simpson – she could be Jessica Simpson for all I know – wearing the “Li’l Abner” Daisy Mae costume. You know, the one that just covers her bottom before it turns to raggedy threads.
“Wait a munute,” Gore says through a mouthful of Oreo. “We don’t need a timekeeper. Whoever finishes first wins.”
“Shut up, Al,” Clinton says, adjusting his britches, “I’d be happy to have Ms. Yokum here be our, uh, timekeeper.”
“We need us a timekeeper, smarty pants, cause we caint be here all day. I got im-portant matters a state to tend to. You got the planet to save. Willie’s got expensive o-rations to make. Millweed here’s probly got some ambulances to chase.
“Naw, at the end a twenty minutes, game over. We take up the papers an I git Laura to grade em. Everbody awright widdat?”
He brings out from behind his desk a notebook-paper-sized tablet and places it on an easel, a really small easel, maybe fifteen inches tall, and sets it on the floor in front of us. It has “20” written on the first page.
“Gentlemen, starchur engines,” the President shouts and adds, winking at Ms. Yokum, “I always wanted to git to say that.”
I flip my puzzle over and see that the theme is “Yippie ki-yay,” and locate the first long answer. The clue is, “Wild as a wind in Oregon…[“Maverick”],” and I fill in, “Blowing up a canyon.”
Same with “A _________ is the man called Paladin. “Soldier of fortune,” I write. “He packed no star as…[“The Rebel”].” I answer “he wandered far,” and then “Lonely man, Cheyenne, where will you…” produces a quick “be sleeping tonight,” and all my theme answers are finished.
I look over at President Clinton and see that he’s pretty much finished the top left corner when Ms. Yokum bends over at the waist to flip page 20 and I stop working my puzzle because her attire, as they say, leaves little to the imagination. Then I’m further distracted by a primal groaning to my right.
I look at President Clinton, who looks like my dog Ginsberg watching me eat a pork chop.
I get back to my puzzle but it’s a good twenty seconds before my opponent looks at his, a process we’d repeat every time another minute rolled over.
President Clinton and I were both about two-thirds through when President Bush called time. He took my puzzle.
“Looks like ye done purty good here Millpond.” Then he took Clinton’s.
“Good Lord, Willie! Ye done drooled all over the page. Ye caint read any a this. It’s e-legable. Millstrap wins!” he shouts, holding up my arm like a boxing champ.
“You done stole another one, you…you…troglodyte!” Gore yells, which starts Bush to singing “Wild Thing” again. “We’ll file a protest with the Supreme Court, won’t we Bill…Bill?”
But President Clinton was nowhere to be seen, and neither, curiously, was Ms. Yokum.