I sat down behind my desk, closing the drawer. “You’re a life coach?” he asked. I answered by proudly handing him my card.
“A slice of advice for a small price,” he read aloud while smiling. “That’s good, I appreciate that brand of honesty; only wish more did.” “Me too,” I replied.
Then he questioned, “You do realize your card reads ‘Life Couch,’ no?”
I ripped it from his manicured hand. This wasn’t how I expected my new career to start. I had to think quickly, replying, “Well, I recently saw a picture of you and six kids with letters on their shirts attempting to spell “Romney” but spelling “Money” instead, so I guess we’re both acquainted with Freudian slips.”
“That’s just it,” he said, sitting down. “That photograph, despite being widely acknowledged as manipulated, is still perceived as having happened. That’s why I’m here.”
At this point I felt the import of his visit. “How can I help?” I asked. “I just want to be liked,” Romney answered.
I didn’t know where to begin. He must have recognized as much as I sat in silence. “You know,” he said, uncomfortably, “I like this desk. It’s just the right height.”
“Look, I’m new at this but relatively certain you didn’t come here to praise my desk.”
“You’re right,” he conceded.
“I just can’t seem to break through. How do I?”
I had to think for a minute. Then I answered: “I’ll have you know, I’m not your everyday life coach. I pretty much have the same answer for every quandary. If you’re uninspired, if you’re restless or depressed, if you need to, as you say, break through, the answer is the same.”
His frame bent towards my side of the desk. “What then?”
“Smoke some pot. That’s largely why it’s illegal, you know.”
His mind did manifold calculations, like a 1950s robot whose head was smoldering, then asked, “You have any?” “Afraid not,” I answered. “Frankly, I’m bored with it.” Then I opened my desk drawer. “I got a bump. Want one?”
At this point he said two things simultaneously like conjoined twins with Tourette’s, the right side mouthing “It’s against my religion” while the left side stated “Don’t mind if I do.”
I replied by saying, “The good thing about having two sides of your mouth is that you have a nostril for each,” then gave him one. He became animated, lamenting, “I’ve been as consistent as a human being can be!”
I did a line myself. “So, you know, I only allow myself to do this sort of thing during holy weeks.”
My charge grinned, “St. Patrick and I have a shared history, obviously. For one, we were both missionaries.”
“True,” I agreed. “And while St. Patrick supposedly drove the snakes from Ireland, you drove Republicans out of contention.”
“But people don’t realize how successful I’ve been! I saved the Olympics! I made half the companies I bought profitable! As governor I spearheaded the nation’s first comprehensive health insurance via subsidies and state-level mandates, and I can’t even take credit for it!”
“All right,” I said, “I won’t even mention the fact that in the same year National Lampoon’s Vacation was on movie screens you traveled with your diarrhetic dog on top of your car, that you said you liked being able to fire people who provide services for you, that there is a picture of you and your cronies with dollar bills in your mouths with no strippers in sight, that you don’t think $360,000 is a lot of money, or that you are unconcerned with the very poor.
“I don’t care about those things. What I care about is a dream I had the other night. There was a huge crater in the middle of the ground and people were standing all around it. We stared and gestured at each other across the divide. All the while, none of us noticed that the walls were falling down around us and our pockets were picked.”
“You lost me. I must need another line,” he sighed.
“Well, here it is. There isn’t a lack of much in these United States, except education. Sometimes instinct prevails anyway.”
Romney wagged his finger at me. “I’m winning this nomination; just you watch. But my question is, what happens once I do?”
“Hate to say it,” I answered, “but your time seems to be up.”
CONTACT MARK FLANIGAN: firstname.lastname@example.org