Monday, December 7, 2020

reading without meeting

Our mythopoeic book discussion group's schedule features an annual December festive gathering for potluck dinner and reading of favorite bits aloud. That's out this year, so we gathered on Sunday via Zoom. Maybe eight of us showed up, including our member in exile in Wisconsin, whom we hear from occasionally but hadn't seen in a long time. So that's one advantage of the current regime: geography has been erased.

No food, except what we had at home, but the business part of the meeting (choosing the discussion topics for next year) went well, without the usual hassle of choosing meeting places, and we had a bit of reading as well.

I chose an excerpt from the prologue of The White House Mess by Christopher Buckley. This comic novel, Buckley's first, was published in 1987 and dealt with the fictional administration of a then-future immediate successor to Reagan, a President Tucker. The prologue recounted inauguration day. The narrator is Tucker's personal assistant. They're about to leave for the ceremony, but there's a mysterious delay.
"Herb," said the President-elect barely above a whisper, "we seem to have a situation here." He drew a deep breath. "The President won't leave."
I did not at first understand.
"I beg your pardon, sir?"
"His doctor's in with him now. They're talking about maybe giving him a shot of adrenaline." ...
"Have you spoken to him?" I asked.
"Yes, I have," said the President-elect. "He told me his back was bothering him, that he was feeling tired, that it's cold outside, and that he just didn't feel like moving out today."
"Oh," I said, for I could think of nothing else to say.
"He was very nice about it. Hoped it wouldn't inconvenience me."
"I see. Did he say when he might feel like moving?"
"Yes. Spring."
I had spent weeks drawing up contingency plans for everything, including the disposal of 1,800 pounds of horse manure that would be 'processed' during the parade. I had not anticipated this.
Eventually they get Reagan up by telling him we're under attack by the Soviet Union and he needs to assume direct command of World War III from an emergency airborne command post. "Apparently the President was quite animated by this last prospect, and began immediately to change out of his pajamas."

Oh, I suppose you can guess why I chose to read that little bit today.

No comments:

Post a Comment