America the Beautiful or America the Tainted?
After a short while, Bedford and Heather said they would like to leave and meet some friends at a local night club. They wished everyone a pleasant evening and left hand in hand.
Beth made sure they had a key and cautioned them to drive safely.
“They make a cute couple,” Grace remarked. “My guess is that they’re a little too young for anything serious.”
“You’re so right,” Beth answered. “A little maturity would help them make good choices.”
“I think they’re just sowing some wild oats,” Richard opined. Beth looked sharply at him, but stayed silent.
“If the young ones can go dancing, why don’t we kick up a rug to some old songs we know well?” Richard inquired. He stood up and changed the music to a big band sound and extended his hand to Beth.
“And by the way, I’m going to freshen up my drink. Anyone else?”
The other guests volunteered to help themselves with the exception of Alicia. Everyone wound up in the kitchen where ice cubes tinkled and drinks were filled to everyone’s satisfaction.
They all began to dance in personal styles. Greg and Alicia moved artfully, their bodies swaying and arms waving in rhythm, whereas everyone else pressed against each other in keeping with dancing modes from another era. The music was loud and partygoers were thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Richard executed a twirl with Beth and exclaimed, “This reminds me of the film with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’? .” Harry, a biologist, cried out over the music, “Afraid of who?” Richard continued: “Virginia Woolf, the British writer.”
“Was she crazy or dangerous?” Carole asked.
“She was a real basket case but that wasn’t the reason she was chosen by the playwright, Edward Albee. She was a symbol of hidden fears.”
“Oh, for God’s sake, Richard, let’s just dance and not parse the movie!” Beth complained.
“No. We’re going to form a conga line from the film and go around the room. Everybody will scream ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ and we’ll be hopping like bunny rabbits. Come on. It’ll be fun for folks like us. Who knows? It might be therapeutic…”
Richard, followed closely by Beth, started hopping and crying out “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” as they moved forward. Everyone followed suit; Beth hopped tentatively because of her condition but she began to laugh with the others.
After a few minutes, Richard broke off and collapsed on a chair while the others spread out on the couch and other chairs. Luckily, all the precious vases and figurines stayed in place; nothing was disturbed or broken.
A few minutes later, Richard circled the room and took the guests’ glasses to be refilled. Beth gave him a hand and she sang in sotto voce one of Rosemary Clooney’s favorites, knowing this would please Richard.
“I hope I’m not being too personal, Alicia, but when are you due?” Grace Smitherman asked.
“Oh no, for goodness sake. I get this question regularly, especially from aunts and cousins!” she replied with a brief laugh. “If everything goes as it should, I am scheduled for mid-October which is right in the middle of the fall semester.”
“Well, don’t worry. You look wonderful. Pregnancy serves you well. My children were born at inconvenient times. It just Nature’s way.”
“Amen,” said Carole. “I’ll save my anecdotes about giving birth at two o’clock in the morning.”
Richard and Beth returned and handed out the drinks. He turned the music down to a background level and settled in his favorite chair. His hair, thick and wavy with gray streaks, was mussed from his habit of rubbing his head every few minutes.
“Well, so much for ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’,” Richard said. “My dissertation advisor was a big fan of her work, poetry and fiction.
“As for me, I was and still am an admirer of James Joyce. I tried to get my students to plough through Ulysses but it was just too stylized and arcane for their age group. Too much ‘stream-of-consciousness’…
“We wound up reading the Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Those were more accessible and demonstrated how gifted a narrator he was. He could tell a fascinating story with ease.”
Jim Simpson added, “That’s a little over my head. I’m a science fiction and detective story addict. I’ve read all the Mike Hammer novels by Mickey Spillane.”
Harry Smitherman chuckled, listening to his colleagues. “Believe it or not, I once tried to write a novel in my younger years. Grace was my editor and, after about three hundred pages, she advised me to go back to the laboratory. I heeded her recommendation.”
“Well, Greg, do you have a preference that’s not related to your research?” Richard inquired, giving him a curious look.
“I’ve long been a fan of Phillip Roth, ever since I read ‘Goodbye, Columbus.’ ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ is an almost x-rated masterpiece that was intentionally devised to shock his readers and delve into psychologist-patient relations. You might throw in Kurt Vonnegut and his ‘Slaughter House V’ that was made into a movie.”
“Excellent choices, if I may say so,” Richard said. “I need to catch up with the very modern writers who are setting new trends.”
After a few more references to favorite authors by the group, the front door bell rang again. Richard sat up and said, “Beth, could you get the door. It’s probably Heather and Bedford coming home.”
“I gave her a key. She doesn’t need to ring the bell,” Beth answered from the kitchen.
“I’ll get it,” Richard said and went to the door.
“Good heavens, Arthur, what are you doing in town?
“Beth, your brother is here,” Richard called out.
“I’m in town on a business trip. I was going to head back to Bedford tonight but my car started acting up. It’s at the shop and I got a cab here. I should have called but…”
“Hi, Sis. Sorry to be interrupting…” Arthur reached out and gave Beth a hug.
“Arthur, are you all right? I hope you didn’t get into an accident.”
“Oh no. I think it’s probably something with the generator. The battery’s in bad shape. I was hoping, if it weren’t too much of an inconvenience, to stay here for tonight. I’ll be gone in the morning.”
“Well, Heather and a friend are staying over, but I can let you crash here on the couch, if you don’t mind.”
Arthur signaled that was fine.
“Have you had anything to eat?” Beth asked. “We’re just finishing up dinner. There’s plenty left over.”
Beth led Arthur out to the kitchen and they began to chat about family matters. Beth seemed genuinely glad to see him.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever met Arthur,” Harry said. “What does he do?”
“Arthur is an insurance broker. He travels all over, both in and out of state. He evens goes to Chicago once in a while. He’s in what they call the “secondary market” or re-insurance. They buy policies from major insurance companies at a discount and manage them independently.” Richard replied.
He then added, “Get ready for a little shock if he visits with us. He’s a hard-core conservative, a little right of Attila the Hun. I’m pretty sure he voted for Trump in the last election.”
“Oh my,” Jim exclaimed. “I didn’t think there were very many in this state.”
“More than you can imagine,” Harry opined. “Many of them are sub rosa with their politics. At heart they are stone-age conservatives.”
”The January 6th committee is doing a good job in revealing so many details about what took place before and during the Insurrection. It’s hard to believe that the Republicans almost pulled off a coup d’état. We were on the verge of a civil war.” Richard was something of a political junkie. He followed the proceedings carefully and often discussed the findings with his wife.
“Trump seems to have a massive following with the ‘deplorables.’ He’s pretty ‘Teflon’ in his ability to escape prosecution. We have to find a way to keep him out of national politics. He reminds me of Mussolini more than Hitler. Boisterous, posturing but adored by the common man.”
Carole cut in and declared, “Good heavens! Are we going to listen to a replay of the last election and what the Orange man is going to do?”
“You’re right, sweetheart,” Jim answered. “We ought to save politics for our book club.”
At that moment, there was a knock on the door and Heather and Bedford came into the alcove. Richard stood up and asked Heather to say hello to her uncle in the kitchen. He would be staying over until tomorrow morning.
Heather motioned to Bedford to follow her into the kitchen. They could hear Arthur’s voice talking to his niece and Bedford’s comments. After a short while, they all returned to the den.
“Hey, Dad, I think Bedford and I are going up to our room and watch a professional basketball game that he’s all excited about. It’s been nice to meet all of you. Have a wonderful evening.”
Arthur found a seat near Jim Simpson and took a sip of his bourbon drink. He introduced himself around with handshakes and nods of the head.
“Richard tells me you’re in insurance,” Harry commented.
“Yeah, for about twenty years. It’s a fine profession and it’s been nice to our family.”
Beth poked her head through the door and asked Richard if he could give her a hand with the dishes.
“Oh, Beth. Could I help?” Grace said and began to stand up.
“No, no, Grace. There’s not much to do. We can handle it in just a few minutes.” Beth motioned for her to be seated.
“It was nice to meet the Jamaican kid. What’s his name?” “Bedford,” Jim reminded him.
“Boy, at that height, he must be a tight end or a forward in basketball. Heather says he’s on scholarship at Yale. Most black kids—‘scuse me, racially mixed–are given some help through ‘affirmative action’.”
Harry was annoyed but stated in a calm tone. “I don’t think this is the case. He’s a pretty articulate young man.”
“His parents are academics as well in Jamaica.” Carole affirmed his legitimacy.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to speak out of turn. It’s just when you see a black athlete these days, you think about sports and not academics.”
“You’re not implying that all black students at Yale are ‘affirmative action babies’ are you?” Jim stated with a cold edge to his voice.
“No, of course not,” Arthur corrected himself. “But you hear stories about minority preferences at other schools.”
Beth came back into the den and asked if she could offer anyone something to eat or drink.
“Oh, why not. I’d love another scotch and soda, darling.” Harry handed over his glass. Jim followed suit and laughed saying that Carole was the designated driver for the night.
“Well, that will be Grace’s decision. We came in her car.”
Grace stood up and said, “I would love a little of your Grand Marnier, but this time let me carry the drinks.”
Arthur paraded back with his bourbon neat and settled in for more discussion. From previous conversations, Alicia recognized that Beth came primarily from a highly conservative background but she had converted to a progressive ideology to conform to Richard’s political philosophy and to blend in with his friends.
Arthur’s outspoken conservatism reflected the ideas she had been exposed to during her childhood and college years. Heather had grown up in a truly woke environment and now echoed the beliefs of her parents.
“I think the Patriots have found a real quarterback in this kid from Alabama,” Arthur put forth. “Brady was great, but Mac Jones is a work in progress. They’ve got similar styles.”
A polite silence fell over the room. No one was a fan of professional or college football. Their interests were in other fields.
“Arthur, could you spend the morning with us? Richard and I are free and we can take you around town to shop while you’re waiting for your car. Maybe we could have lunch,” Beth suggested, trying to fill in the absence of conversation.
“That would be great, Sis. I hope it’s okay with Richard.”
“No problem. I do have an appointment in the early afternoon, however.”
Richard then asked, “Harry, I don’t think I got a chance to ask, but how is the young biologist coming along that you just brought on staff?”
“He’s doing very well so far. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to argue with his students at times about political issues. He’s much more conservative than the rest of the faculty.”
“Well, that’s not a sin, of course,” Richard replied. “It might be better for his career not to be so vocal about political matters.”
“Better for his career?” Arthur interrupted. “Does that mean that there’s some sort of political litmus test for retention?”
“Of course, not,” Harry intervened. “We prefer to keep politics out of the classroom but the young professors are very committed to political ideals. They tend to get carried away.”
“Yeah. I remember when I was in college,” Arthur said. “I had a young physics instructor who couldn’t stand the Bushes. He would make some derogatory remarks about them every time we met.”
“That’s odd,” Grace observed. “Other than being war-mongers, the Bushes were middle-of-the-road politicians. They didn’t push the needle very far to the Right.”
“This fellow…I think he was a New York Jew…was convinced that Gore had won the race. He railed against the Supreme Court decision and said they were in the Republicans’ corner,” Arthur persisted although everyone else seemed uninterested in the topic.
“Speaking of a stolen election,” Carole intervened, “when will Trump ever admit that he lost? He whipped up those crazies in Washington by convincing them that the election was rigged. Then all hell broke loose. We’re lucky to still be a Republic.”
“He’s reloading for another run at the presidency,” Jim said. “After two impeachment trials, this is insane.”
“He should be arrested and put in solitary confinement,” Grace almost shouted.
Greg and Alicia looked at each other with real concern. This was not the time to get involved in a political fist-fight with fanaticized colleagues.
Richard stood up and headed for the kitchen. “This has made me splenetic. I need another drink to cope with that prospect. Harry, you’re not driving are you? Com’on, let’s reload.”
Arthur marched with them to the kitchen, waving his bourbon glass. “I’m not driving anywhere, thank God.”
Even the ladies were showing signs of losing control. Carole suggested, in a facetious manner, that Richard take the role of a prominent conservative figure and defend his point of view. In return, he would be rebutted by everyone else. The winner or winners would get Beth to sing their favorite song.
“Carole, that’s not a bad idea; however, what does Richard know about conservative ideas?” Grace said.
“Why not drag Arthur into this contest?” Richard replied, defensively. “I hear from Beth that he’s a conservative guru who knows all the twists and turns of their logic.”
“What say, my man? Are you lucid enough to defend proponents of Eugene McCarthy and David Duke?” Harry called out, taunting him.
“First of all, David Duke is a Klansman. Conservatives don’t buy into that crap. Most of us can defend our beliefs…very well. If you like, I’ll be your whipping boy until I have you running for the exits. Fire away. Let’s make this a debate and not a shouting match.”
“Arthur, I think you may have had a little too much to drink,” Beth said, looking at her brother with a warning stare. He was capable of making statements that she would have to live with or even defend later on. She feared guilt by affiliation, something Richard would not be thrilled with.
“No way. Fear not, dear sister. I’m tired of all this nightly news propaganda. Let’s hear both sides of the story.” Arthur spread his legs and held his glass tightly in his right hand.
“There’s really no debate, Arthur. Trump’s a disaster for the country. If you let him back into power, he’ll have us all in chains, figuratively and literally,” Jim lectured. “He was a charlatan before he was elected, and he’ll be an aggrieved dictator if he gets back into office, God forbid. Kiss the Bill of Rights goodbye.”
Arthur jumped quickly into the fray. “Now, Jim, that’s pretty exaggerated to say the least. I admit he wasn’t the most successful of businessmen early in his career, but he built a real estate empire on his own.”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” Carole protested. “His father left him a fortune to play with. He used that to go from one failure to another.”
“A lot of businessmen haven’t been successful from the get-go,” Arthur retorted. He wound up with his real estate company that is now very successful. He’s valued in the billions of dollars.”
“The man’s a bloody racist of the worst sort. Look what he said about the Mexicans…and he insulted a Mexican American judge who was going to adjudicate his real estate university scam.” Harry became more adamant in his accusations.
“Look, all you libs, before they got into office many Democrats had checkered careers. Lyndon Johnson was a master of corruption and rigged elections. Kennedy tried to seduce every sexy woman in Washington. As president he slept with a gun moll and tried to get the Mafia to off Castro.
“His father, Papa Joe, with Lyndon Johnson’s help, made it possible for him to defeat Nixon. Bill Clinton was close behind. Hillary had to follow in his wake with a broom and a checkbook to make deals with his lovers. Jennifer Flowers and Monica Lewinsky. Talk about high level scandals.”
“When he left office, he had a 60% approval rating,” Beth said.
“There he learned his lesson and leaned to the Right, middle-of-the-road legislation. He passed a law that forced welfare moms to work or lose their benefits. By the way, Obama quietly rescinded this requirement early in his presidency.” Arthur seemed to warm up to the give and take.
“It could be that Trump did a few things that favored American prosperity, but he insulted our NATO allies and he alienated so many foreign leaders. He embarrassed China and portrayed them as imperialist thugs who stole our most sensitive technical secrets. We need Chinese support to keep our economy healthy.” Harry’s voice rose slightly in his defense of Sino-American friendship
“NATO had dumped its military responsibilities in our lap for decades. We shouldered 70% of all military expenses before Trump pointed out this discrepancy,” Arthur stated with great certainty.
“He’s a closet Russophile. He’s was in bed with Putin, a more sophisticated version of Joseph Stalin. No matter what people say, Russia got behind Trump and helped him win the election in 2016. How could any sane individual prefer this New York entertainer and hustler to Hillary Clinton? He was illegitimate from day one.” Grace was even more vocal than Harry in her condemnation of Trump’s presidency.
“How gauche can you get,” Jim said. “He insulted the heroism of John McCain, by characterizing him as a failure for being captured in Vietnam. And for God’s sake, he spent big money and time trying to shore up the ridiculous assertion that Obama wasn’t born in America when there wasn’t a shred of evidence he wasn’t.”
“Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Orange Man? Trump took on the slimy Swamp creatures in Washington–the permanent apparatchiks who did everything to sabotage his initiatives. The Mueller probe, the first impeachment…they were all based on false premises. The media hated him and would not run a positive story.” Arthur counter-attacked with precision.
“Arthur, you’re full of mierda,” Jim called out. “This neo-fascist was impeached twice. No president has ever been that incompetent.”
Arthur signaled to Beth that he needed more bourbon. She reluctantly moved toward the kitchen with his glass, shaking her head. She tried to get his eye but he was focused on Harry and Jim.
“Hey, socialistas, the revolution hasn’t taken place yet, in spite of your best efforts.” Arthur stood up and paced across the room.
“If he gets back into power, this country will erupt. There will be non-stop protests and riots. We will be divided along political lines. A house split in two, to paraphrase Lincoln, will collapse.” Carole wagged her finger in Arthur’s face.
“If so, Trump will inherit a weakened nation with lots of flabby, self-serving youths who’ve been taught to act on impulse and not obey reasonable laws. His has the will and strength to bring us together again.”
“Bull shit! He’s a paranoid dictator who sees enemies around every corner. He’ll spend his term getting rid of his opponents and settling scores. We’ll be a different nation—one that we won’t recognize.” Jim became more and more virulent in his condemnation of Arthur’s allegations.
Grace was getting more and more excited as well. She suddenly got up and headed for the kitchen. “I need to reload as well,” she cried out.
“Sweetheart,” Harry said, “Keep in mind you’re the designated driver.”
“If worse comes to worse, we’ll get one of you to drive us home. It’s not far. Right now, I’m on a roll. We’re going to push Arthur back into the gutter where he belongs.” Grace intoned.
“Hey, hey, my good lady. I said we were going to be civil, not loud and vicious.” Arthur objected.
“Really. Let’s drop the political assassination nonsense,” Beth intervened. “Arthur’s had a little too much to drink for the moment.”
Richard spoke up and declared the debate a draw. Beth would sing “My Old Kentucky Home” as a reward for everyone’s participation. Who could not like Stephen Foster’s classic? Even Oscar Hammerstein was inspired by its lyrics in Oklahoma.
There was applause from all sides. Arthur stood up and announced that he in truth won, but would accept the opinion of his opponents. At the same time, he asked Beth if he could use the little boys’ room.
“Oh my, not right now. I think Harry’s in there. Go upstairs and use the bathroom at the top of the steps.”
Conversation was revived and everyone chatted about less ponderous issues than the fate of the nation.
After a while, Arthur came back downstairs and motioned for Beth to come his way.
“What’s going on?” She inquired.
“A hell of lot in Heather’s bedroom. Those two are really going at it. It’s pretty noisy.”
Beth walked half-way up the stairs to listen and then returned. “Well, they’re adults and very young. I certainly hope he’s protected.”
“Jamaicans are famous for their sexual prowess,” Arthur opined. “She’ll be up all night with this stud.”
“Really, Arthur. They’re very young and horny. At that age, we could all have sex multiple times. I’ll see her tomorrow and make sure she’s on the pill.”
“You’re pretty accepting. If Rachel had been shacking up with a black, I wouldn’t have been so understanding. I would have gone right in there and asked him to put it back in the cage and sleep in another room.”
“That’s disgusting! It’s racist beyond the pale. I’m certain your daughter had plenty of sex before she got married. You just didn’t know about it.” Beth grabbed his arm and pulled him back into the den.
“What was the crisis?” Richard asked. Beth moved to his side and whispered something in his ear.
“Well, the basketball game must have been boring.” He joked.
“They’re doing ‘la bête à deux dos’,” Grace giggled.
“The beast with what?” Harry inquired.
“Oh, for God’s sake, Harry, what all young people do behind closed doors,” his wife said with exasperation.
“Beth, darling, I don’t know about you, but the weekends at my sorority were really sex-laden. I remember once going to the bathroom and finding a good-looking guy with a sorority member taking a shower. He was not being a gentleman with his gestures. They were both indifferent to voyeurs. Was I ever embarrassed!”
“If we start discussing our freaky sexual past, we’ll be here until three in the morning,” Carole laughed. “The men can probably tell us stories we don’t want to hear.”
Greg looked sheepishly at Alicia, fearing that someone would question them about their premarital habits.
“Greg, I hope we’re not making you feel uncomfortable,” Beth said, looking their way.
“No, not really. My uncle at home used to tell pretty raunchy stories about his escapades in the military. Everyone seemed shocked but I think they found him funny and entertaining,” Greg replied.
“Well, as you’ll find out, grown children follow their own paths, in this case their hormonal urges,” Beth sighed.
Carole, who was now obviously drunk, cried out: “I say let’s have a straw vote about the coming presidential elections, in 2024. First and foremost, can Biden make it to the finish line? Yes or no. And secondly, should he be the candidate or maybe Kamala, the cackler? If Biden is declining mentally—and we all know there’s something amiss—then she is the queen apparent. “
Richard faced her and pronounced. “That’s not much of a choice, clever one. I say let’s choose Trump and Biden, assuming he’s still passably compos mentis.”
“Oh my God, you will be responsible, lord of all things English, for my nightmares!” Grace said with an exaggerated shiver. “I vote for Kamala. She’s a good-looking woman for her age and she’s got all the minority bona fides for the green generation. Presidents are public relations agents. People in their inner circle make decisions. Presidents just make speeches and reassure the public.”
“Greg, you’ve been pretty silent tonight. We need your input. What candidates would you choose for the straw poll?” Richard inquired, giving him an inquisitive look.
Greg put down his drink and paused. He then stood up and proposed: “In my opinion, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, will be the Republican candidate and Biden, in spite of his physical condition, will be the sentimental favorite for the Democrats.”
“Bravo, young man. Bold predictions. Now, in your wisdom, who will be the victorious candidate come election time?”
“I really don’t know. Biden will get the usual Democratic vote, the yellow-dogs who would never vote Republican , but the young independents may go for DeSantis, who is young and very tough-minded. It all depends on the Democratic choice for Vice-President.”
“Good heavens, that’s a slam-dunk as you sports fans say. Kamala, of course. She’s a proven entity. The blacks will support her en masse.”
“The American public,” Beth said, “tends to go with the tried and true. If Biden doesn’t implode or do something outrageous, he’ll be re-elected. Most voters don’t know anything about DeSantis, other than he supported Trump.”
“In all the recent polls, Trump is easily beating DeSantis and other possible Republican candidates,” Arthur interjected, waving his half-full glass of bourbon.
“Trump’s flawed but he’s charismatic. Almost 75 million people voted for him in 2020. That’s more than Clinton or Obama received by far. Just wait. He’ll have huge crowds at his rallies and will garner a lot of support among the independents. Don’t count him out.”
“Will he run as a Republican or as the head of a new fascist party?” Harry asked.
“Very funny. He’s more and more popular among the Hispanics. Biden’s base is eroding. He’s a sick old man who’s being propped up by his secret cabinet of Obama supporters and Soros-funded, voter fraud experts. Mail-in voting by illegal immigrants, deceased voters, out-of-state citizens, and a host of other phantom tricks will be used to nullify Trump votes. “Arthur’s tone rose in protest.
“Bull shit, once again, Arthur.” Jim exclaimed. “Trump is garbage, he’s old news. He’s a dictator without a captive audience. His smelly followers are mindless trolls who can’t speak in complete sentences. “
“Arthur, Jim, please!” Beth interrupted. “Let’s not go there right now. This is a dinner party. Let’s take a deep breath and lower the volume.”
“Greg, you’re the arbiter….I’m appointing you the judge and jury. You decide between Trump and Biden in 2024, provided they’re still alive and aware of where they are.” Richard said with an air of amusement.
Alicia spoke up after staying silent for most of the party. “Richard, I think Greg has his opinions but he likes to judge on facts, not speculation. Two years is a long time in politics. Let’s have this discussion a couple of months before the election.” There was a pause for a moment when everyone seemed to be caught off guard.
At this time, there was a loud and unmistakable orgasmic cry from upstairs that stunned the guests.
Beth ran to the foot of the stairs and shouted, “Hey you two. We have guests down here. This is embarrassing. Give it a rest, Heather. Do you hear me!” There was a weak reply, “Yes. I’m sorry, Mother. We’ll be good.”
“Well, I certainly hope so. We need to have a talk tomorrow.”
Beth returned to the den and apologized. “Normally, she’s a very respectful young lady. Well, we all have children and they can be a pain sometimes.”
“This is better than a romance novel,” Grace said, chuckling. “Who knows, this might stimulate some husbands to be attentive to their spouses tonight.”
“Enough,” Richard said. “Alicia, I agree with your assessment. Greg, I’m certain that we can all benefit from a two-year wait. But I’m sure, with the notable exception of Arthur, that Biden will receive our full support…even if he has trouble controlling his gaffes and wild misstatements. Cool heads behind the scenes will be guiding the ship of state.”
“Obama and Susan Rice are writing the scripts,” Harry opined.
“We’re in good hands.”
At this time, everyone stood up, thanked Beth and Richard, and began to head out to their car.
“It’s nice to have met you,” Arthur said, “but in two years, if all goes according to plan, the big Orange man will be in power and Biden’s follies will be corrected. We’ll clean out the intelligences services and foreign policy will be predicated on American interests. Ukraine will be a distant memory. Trump can handle Putin. China and President XI won’t be so bold in their maneuvres.”
“America will be renamed MAGA land and the intellectuals will all be in the new Goulag out in Arizona. The immigrants will be flown back to Venezuela or some distant country. Canada will probably be invaded or assimilated in the far West. Hallelujah!” Carole gave her evaluation of the future.
“Yeah, coal will be our primary energy source and pollution will be everywhere in the new America. Let’s hear it: ‘America first’, globalism is a scam, green energies are a waste of good money, and Walmart shoppers will prevail. China is our deadliest threat, and everyone will need a military caliber weapon to ward off the IRS auditors.”
Harry waved his drink in mock celebration as he was preparing to leave.
On the way home, Alicia commented, “Wow! I hope we escaped the wrath of the ultra-libs. I tried not to say much. I didn’t embarrass you, did I?”
“No way. You were great. I think Richard has known you’re more conservative than the others. Believe it or not, Beth really likes you. You’re on the same page politically and she gives me the impression of someone who needs an outlet, a confidante in times of stress.”
“We’ve been through the fire. It was a rite of passage. The next time I’ll know what type of armor to wear,” Alicia said laughingly.
“You’re a fast learner. I have to be. All in all, I enjoyed myself. Arthur is quiet a revelation. He’s outspoken, to say the least.”
“Heather was there to remind us that we were all irresponsible and wild in our college days,” Alicia commented.
“She’s a real pistol. Yale is a place where you learn to study and how to handle social relationships.”
“Funny, funny, my special guy.”
The moon was shining brightly as they drove up to the front door of their home. The shrubs were flowering and aglow with color.
It had been a challenging and instructive evening. They had survived and Arthur was not a fly in the soup but a fount of conservative wisdom.
Alicia and Beth were kindred souls and Greg had found his way through the cavernous maze of departmental diplomacy with skill and deftness beyond his age.
Tomorrow was another day, filled with challenges and the knowledge that political outcomes were never certain until the last vote was counted.