|The Healthiest of the Lot|
Issue #34 (June 1984)
The President checked into George Washington University Hospital for his annual physical examination. The tests took a week to complete. When he received a clean bill of health, his Devoted Wife threw a party for him, inviting five hundred of his closest friends.
"Then they put a skimpy white hospital gown on me that didn't even cover my backside and made me sit on a cold metal table. I felt as if I were holding a press conference!"
Everyone laughed politely. Devoted Wife handed the Chief Executive another canape, which he splattered all over his shirt.
"Is anything wrong, dear?"
"Arm's a little sore. I guess I've been lifting the dinner fork too much. The doc did say I've put on a few pounds." He grinned sheepishly. Actually, he hadn't been this trim since he was in college. Fifty years sometimes bring spare tires or bulging behinds with them. He had escaped that curse.
Later in the evening, the bath attendant noticed that the President's hand trembled visibly when she gave him his towel.
"Gotta lay off that booze. It's not good for me."
His words sounded clear and distinct, not a bit slurred. The attendant shrugged it off. Alcohol affected different people in different ways.The next morning, Devoted Wife noticed that her husband was walking stiffly. There was a lot of flu going around. Maybe he should spend the day in bed.
He rotated his head in her direction as if it were on hinges and said in a monotone voice: "The President has a sacred duty to carry out affairs of State to the best of his ability, regardless of his own personal aches and pains."
"Of course," she agreed demurely.
However, something was terribly wrong. The Chief Executive began writing his own speeches. THe expressions he used were hackneyed. Stereotypes flew out of his mouth like demons. But he was saying exactly what the masses wanted to hear.
"All blacks are lazy and shiftless."
"All Jews are usurers."
"Women belong in the kitchen."
"We should send all the foreigners back to where they came from."
People were falling on top of each other trying to get near enough to touch him. No one noticed his jerking movements, unblinking eyes.
Suddenly, in the middle of one of the Great Orator's more animated speeches, which he was delivering at the weekly meeting of the Old Guard Association, a shot rang out. No, not again! Not our noble leader!
But it was true. The bullet entered the heart. An operation was attempted. The chief surgeon backed away, aghast.
A reporter in the viewing gallery yelled down "What's the matter?"
The doctor was staring in disbelief at the tiny battery positioned where the heart should have been. He was operating on - a robot!
The following day, the President was up and about, sporting a new battery. Flashlight variety. Of course, the details of the surgery were hushed up. The bullet had supposedly been deflected by a hearing aid in his shirt pocket. God was credited with yet another miracle. The surgeon was never heard from again.
Devoted Wife baked her husband his favorite treat, pineapple upside-down cake, and bounded toward the Oval Office with it. She stopped short, staring about quizzically. Through the closed door, she could hear squeaking, creaking noises and a tape recorder playing over and over: "I have called you all together to discuss .... I have called you all together to discuss .... I have called you all together to discuss ...."
Susan Packie teaches anthropology at Malcolm-King College, which is located in America's premier anthroplogical site, New York City. She has had her work published in more than 80 magazines.