Saturday, March 25, 2006

George W. Bush Celebrates 80th Birthday

It is July 6th, 2026. George W. Bush is lying on an aluminum chaise lounge cushioned with cheap frayed vinyl strips in the heat of the Texas sun, his eyes in the shade of the peak of a San Juan Stars baseball cap, a baseball team which was on that day in first place in the Eastern Division of the American League after only three years after being created as an expansion club. To his immediate left sits a small aluminum folding table on which lies a pitcher of ice tea and a bowl of bite-size chocolate chip cookies. On a similar rickety chaise lounge lies Laura Bush, who wears a red large-brimmed sun hat with tortoise-shell sunglasses. Laura is reading The New Yorker magazine. George is watching two eight-year old girls tossing a softball back and forth, catching the ball with brown-leather mitts. George knew them as neighbors, each living in their respective brushed steel trailers that were about fifty yards from his vantage. Sarah and Sylvia, the two baseball girls, as he thought of them. Sarah blond, Sylvia a redhead, both wearing running shorts, white socks and sneakers, Sarah in a Mets jersey, Sylvia in an Arizona Diamondbacks jersey and baseball hat. They were running around, throwing the ball to each other, fielding grounders, one of which went through Sylvia’s legs and ended up at the foot of George’s chaise lounge. Sylvia ran for the ball, where she was stopped by a man in black pants, a tight black tank top, wearing a shoulder harness with gun.

“It’s OK,” said George as he waved his hand at the one secret service agent that was assigned to the former President. The secret service man backed off, and Sylvia continued to run with mitt on left hand.

“Hi,” said Sylvia.

“It’s Sylvia, right?” said George.

“Hey, look at those cookies. There’s so many,” said Sylvia.

Laura Bush looks up from her New Yorker magazine. “Yes, dear. It’s George’s birthday today,” said Laura.

“Wow. Happy birthday,” said Sylvia. George caught a glimpse of Sarah in the background with her hands on hips waiting for her friend.

“There are eighty chocolate chip cookies in that bowl. One cookie for each of George’s life,” said Laura.

“You’re going to eat all those cookies?” asked Sylvia.

“No, No. Laura won’t let me. I am allowed just, what is it, how many again?” asked George as he turned to Laura.

“None, George. You are allowed none,” said Laura.

“Yes, that’s right, I am allowed no cookies,” smiled George as he looked at Sylvia.

“But, dear, you are allowed to have one. Take one cookie for yourself and one for your friend,” said Laura.

“Thanks,” said Sylvia as she grabbed two cookies.

“Don’t forget your ball, Sylvia,” said George.

Sylvia picks up the ball and runs back to where Sarah was standing where they, from George’s vantage, seem to chat and eat and then resume play.

“How could you forget, George, about the cookies. You know better than that,” said Laura.

‘Yes. I know. Discipline. It’s why we have survived on our beautiful Crawford ranch for so long, They did not take this away from us. No sir,” said George.

“It’s hardly a ranch, anymore, George, with all the trailers. Forty seven of them,’ said Laura.

“Forty eight, if you count ours,” said George proudly, which was immediately behind where George and Laura were lying. Not the largest trailer in the Crawford Ranch Trailer Park. But one of the few that had 220 volts of electricity providing the most robust of air conditioning units that sat on cinder blocks to the side of the trailer.

“Survivors. We are survivors. Not everyone was able to survive like us, but it required discipline and ingenuity,” said George.

“Thank God the government at least pays for him,” Laura pointed to the secret service man.

“That’s the problem, Laura. People expect the federal government to pay for everything. People probably think I was unhappy when they cancelled the pensions of all ex-presidents and their wives. Nope. Not me. Government can’t afford it, so it should not pay for it,” said George. “And I was clever enough to turn our ranch into a trailer park, subdividing it into tiny little rentable trailer spots, surrounding ourselves with people. I love people,’ said George.

“Yeah, you love people,” said Laura without emotion. “Are you enjoying your birthday, George?” asked Laura.

“Eighty years old. Jeez. Hard to believe. Lived an honest life. Honest work. Happy birthday to me,” said George W. Bush.

“Yes, George. But tomorrow we go back to Maine, OK? I cannot take the heat. And it is not good for you either,” said Laura Bush as she returned to her New Yorker magazine.

“You’d rather be in that little bungalow than here among the people?” asked George.

“Yes, George, I’d rather be in our little bungalow,” said Laura. “Plus, we can see the grand children.
 They are all up north where we should stay, George, particularly in the summer,” said Laura.

“Oh, now, Laura, you know I have this thing about my birthday. We have to be here on my birthday. At least once a year to check on my people,” said George.

“But couldn’t we check on your people in the winter, George? We can come during the winter when it is not so hot. You can check on your people during the winter,” said Laura.

‘Tradition, Laura,” said George.

“All thinking people live up north, George, if they can afford it. We can afford it. We have that little bungalow on the rocks in Maine. We were lucky enough to get a piece of Maine while it was still available. We should take advantage of it. At our age. Please, George. Never again will I come here in the summer,” Laura said sternly.

“Lucky enough, Laura, really. That bungalow was my father’s,” said George.

“It was the outhouse, George. It was the house where your father cut fish and stored his fishing gear. And we were lucky to get it for ourselves. We should count our blessings,” said Laura.

“I never liked Maine. Besides, I can’t stomach seeing what they did to my Daddy’s estate, breaking it up like that into little apartments, filled with rich New Yorkers and those people from Boston. Those are not my people, Laura,” said George.

“Yes, George. I understand,” said Laura.

George looked up and saw Sarah running in his direction. The secret service man was keeping a watchful eye on her. Sarah was holding her baseball mitt high in the air as she ran, and just a few feet from where George and Laura were, Sarah caught the baseball thrown by Sylvia. She turned, smile on her face, the ball firmly in her mitt.

“Wow. That was some catch,” said George.

“Thanks. You’re like one of the former presidents, right?” said Sarah.

“Now, you know that already. Silly you. I know you know your history. It’s Sarah, am I correct?” asked George.

“Yes. We just moved here. That’s my home,” Sarah said as she pointed to her steel trailer.

“I know. Your Daddy e-checked me,” said George.

“My Daddy is dead. It’s my Mom who probably e-checked you,” said Sarah.

“Oh, yes. Sorry,” said George.

“My Daddy got skin cancer,’ said Sarah.

“Yeah, that seems to be going around a lot,’ said George

“Well, dear, you should cover yourself up then, Sarah,’ said Laura, who looked up from her New Yorker magazine.

“You know about hats. People steal them. Someone stole my baseball hat,” said Sarah.

“Gotta stay covered up these days. It ain’t gettin’ any cooler, that’s for sure,” said George.

“Can I have a cookie?” asked Sarah.

“Yes, dear, you can take two, one for you and one for Sylvia,’ said Laura.

Sarah grabs two cookies with her right hand.

“And George, give Sarah your hat,” said Laura.

“What?” asked George.

“Give Sarah your baseball hat,” said Laura.

“But this is—” George stopped himself. He takes off his San Juan Stars baseball hat and gives it to Sarah.

“Thanks,” said Sarah. She puts the hat on, which is a little too big for her head, but she turns it to the side. “See ya around,” said Sarah as she turns and runs back to Sylvia.

“These are my people, Laura. These are my people,” said George.

“Tomorrow we go back to Maine,” said Laura.

“Tomorrow’s another day, that’s what I say,” said George. “Hey, Laura, did you know that today is Sylvestor Stallone’s birthday? Born same day as me. Same year, same day. Somethin’, huh? Now there’s a guy who’s led an honest life. Yes sirree bob, an honest life. Rocky and me.”

“Yes, George. An honest life,” said Laura.

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