I am not political or satirical so . . . I’ve decided to challenge myself and write a political satire! Here goes:
The Human Race
Atlanta in the middle of the summer is hot. A presidential debate in Atlanta in the middle of the summer is hotter than Hell. Which is exactly where most of the people who were starting to gather in the audience felt Priscilla Papillon and Claude McCook belonged.
It’s true that the Democrats were much more at ease with Priscilla as their party’s nominee because of her multiple-decades-long experience, commitment to social reform, and political savvy, but that didn’t mean they liked her. And it’s true that the Republicans found their candidate’s political incorrectness refreshing, but none of them thought he had the intelligence, experience, or personality to be the Commander in Chief of the most powerful nation on the planet. So the atmosphere at the first presidential debate wasn’t filled with optimism, but rather desperation sine each party felt like they were stuck cheering on a candidate they’d pick last to be on their team for a game of Dodgeball.
And even though both candidates knew this, neither candidate cared because they also knew that their parties had no other choice but to convince the public that they were giving their candidate full, unconditional support. Because in the world of politics, no one cares about anything except winning and within that twisted little circle, few people cared about it more than Priscilla.
“I think I’ll bring up Sri Lanka within the first five minutes when I talk about Free Trade,” Priscilla announced. “That should make Claude clench.”
The beleaguered Press Secretary tightened her grip around the bag of honey-lemon lozenges to prevent herself from slapping Priscilla in the head and creating an unnecessary headline: Press Secretary Slugs Presidential Candidate. Or more probable: The Bitchslap Heard ‘Round the World. No, Kyoko would have to play to Priscilla’s moral compass, if she could find it.
“Priscilla, we’ve already discussed this,” Kyoko said, “and you know that this isn’t the time or the place to bring this up.”
“Au contraire mon frère,” Priscilla replied, for some reason speaking in French to her South Korean Press Secretary.
Her grip around the lozenge bag tightened.
“How many times do I have to tell you I am not your brother?!” Kyoko exclaimed.
“I’m trying to show you how understanding and embracing I am of your lesbian brotherhood,” Priscilla explained.
This time Kyoko slapped her leg with the bag of honey-lemon lozenges because like every sado-masochist knows, if you can’t hurt the one you want, hurt yourself. “And how many times have I told you that I’m not a lesbian?”
“So many times that I’ve lost count,” Priscilla said. “And each time, Kyoko, it makes me sadder than the time before. Almost as sad as it does for me to think that the American people have dubbed me ‘She Who Can’t Be Trusted.’ I mean, come on, if the public can put their trust in God, whom, by they way, they cannot see or hear, then why can’t they put their trust in me when I both tweet and Instagram on an hourly basis?”
Luckily Priscilla’s question was rhetorical because the acid reflux filling up Kyoko’s throat prevented her from responding.
“And it’s primarily because I am viewed as untrustworthy,” Priscilla continued, “that I must expose my opponent’s chicanery.”
Kyoko swallowed the acidic liquid and felt it reluctantly travel down her esophagus, but didn’t even feel the burn because the only thing she hated more than acid reflux was losing control. Her entire life, both professional and personal, was built on the mandate that she could maintain control even in the most hostile of situations. No matter what circumstance was thrown her way she was always able to remain calm, quickly think of a solution, and outsource the problem to have it solved. It didn’t matter if the circumstance involved a secret girlfriend who no longer wanted to remain secret. Or intel on a secret arms deal that wound up in the wrong hands. Or in this case a politician’s secret about his secret birthplace that another politician felt it was time to give birth to. She wasn’t entirely sure how, but Kyoko knew that needed to reclaim control over this particular situation.
Staring at the woman she had vowed to serve and protect, Kyoko became frightened. Maybe Feodora was right, maybe it was time to take this bitch down. But how?
Unwilling to entertain such decidedly unentertaining thoughts, Kyoko decided to utilize her motherly voice that she only used on those rare occasions when she felt the need to remind her children that they actually had a mother. “Priscillaaaaa,” she sang-spoke. “I agree with you one-hundred-and sixty-fiiiiiive percent.” Her comment ended with a perfect high-pitched accent on the ‘cent.’
“Good because if you disagree with me by even one percent I am prepared to fire you,” Priscilla replied without the hint of a melody in her voice.
“You wouldn’t dare!”
“Not only would I fire you,” Priscilla continued, still sans any musical lilt to her declaration. “I would expose you for the lesbiliar that you are. See if the LGBTXYZ community rallies behind you once they find out you’re living a life as duplicitous as that Republican senator who can’t go to the bathroom without the help of his herd of male interns.”
Priscilla stopped threatening long enough to take a breath, but not long enough for Kyoko to find her voice and protest.
“I have photographic documentation of all your dalliances Lesbian Kyoko,” Priscilla informed. “The long lunches at that artist’s loft in the seedy side of Georgetown, the trips to Provincetown during family week without your family, the late-night rendezvous with the slow-walking geisha under the cherry blossoms.”
“Akika isn’t a geisha!” Kyoko shouted. “She’s just not used to walking in shoes with a closed toe!”
“The public isn’t going to care about Akika’s problems with western footware!” Priscilla retorted, not even concerned about raising her voice in such a public setting. “They’re only going to care that you were blossoming some geisha’s cherry while you were supposed to be taking care of your family’s needs not to mention the needs of the Democratic party and all its constituents.”
Kyoko almost shouted, “What about my needs?!” Luckily she stopped herself not only from being overheard, but from being embarrassed. No one cared about her needs, not the public, not her family, not the woman who was blackmailing her. She was nothing more than a mouthpiece, a human communiqué, someone to regurgitate the party line in a steady, emotionless voice so the public could feel safe and reassured whether her regurgitation contained innocuous material about political pop culture or bits and pieces of classified information. Few people in the country knew her name and those few who did know, knew that very soon her name would be replaced by another. The Press Secretary’s lifespan was a short one so why commit a name to memory when it had no chance of longevity?
Clearly, Priscilla was not going to be swayed on moral or ethical grounds, so Kyoko decided to address the biggest elephant in the room, Priscilla’s ego. When she spoke, Kyoko was proud to hear that her voice sounded once again like the usual flatlined calm she had been perfecting since childhood.
“If you reveal the fact that Claude is not a United States citizen, the fact that you sat on this revelation for almost a year will also be revealed.”
Priscilla’s silence revealed to Kyoko that the vengeful candidate had been so blinded by revenge that she hadn’t thought her scheme all the way through.
“How will you explain that to your already suspicious public? How will you acquire their trust if you once again prove to the world that you’ve lied to them for almost a year?”
Watching Priscilla squirm didn’t make Kyoko as happy as it usually did, but it did make her relieved. She had hit a nerve, she put out a wildfire, she bought herself some time. But exactly how much time was still a variable. Until Priscilla spoke.
“Then you have twenty-four hours.”
“To do what?”
“To create a backstory and a paper trail – hard copy and electronic – to make it look as if I recently found out this information and took the time necessary to vet the story before sharing it with the public at our first presidential debate proving once and for all that I am decisive, thorough, honest, and most of all, trustworthy.”
If Kyoko subtracted the three hours it would take for her to apply for and hold the semi-automatic assault weapon in her hands complete with a shoulder strap to match her ensemble, she should still have enough time to concoct and execute a plan to assassinate Priscilla by week’s end.
“You might gain the respect and yes, the trust, of the public,” Kyoko started, “But you will also gain the hatred of McCook’s fan base, not to mention the wrath of the Republicans.”
“Nothing will change the former and I don’t care about the latter.”
Kyoko paused for effect and busied herself by shuffling some papers into a pile. She pulled a folder out of her briefcase and put the pile of papers into it and when she spoke she focused on her task and not Priscilla. “Even when they retaliate by lifting the curtain on the biggest exposé this planet has or will ever witness?”
Fortunately, Priscilla’s sinister smile went unnoticed, but had Kyoko seen it she would have known her boss was ready, prepared, and oh-so-willing to take the first step past the point of no return confident that no one would have the guts to follow.
“The public might be too stupid to trust me, but you shouldn’t make the same mistake Kyoko,” Priscilla hissed. “They’ll be too scared to retaliate so you can tell them that I call their bluff and I’ll see them in the White House.”
Right before Priscilla walked away, she made sure that she got right in front of Kyoko so she couldn’t avoid looking at her any longer.
“You might want to get to work,” Priscilla ordered. “The clock is ticking.”
Watching Priscilla march away, Kyoko felt her body start to sway and had to clutch the chair in front of her to steady herself. God, how she love-hated that woman! The strength of her conviction, the commitment to conquer anyone and anything in her path, the boxy cut of her suit, was an aphrodisiac that literally made her head spin.
She sat down as normally as she could, hoping that she didn’t give anyone around her an indication that she felt faint. Stupidly she retrieved the file that she just put in her briefcase and laid it out on the table before her, but her eyes couldn’t focus on the Helvetica not when her boss was hellbent on destroying the American political system with one careless comment in less than an hour.
Looking around the room she sought out images that would remind her of how normal life could be. On the stage next to her husband, she saw Maude McCook reapplying her red lipstick, across the room she saw Feodora fake-laughing at something Darnell said, in between an aisle toward the back of the room she saw Knoxville Dolittle, the stalwart janitor cleaning up someone’s mess. Business as usual.
“You should freshen up your make-up Kyoko, you look queasy. Did your husband just text you asking for a quickie before the debate?”
Could the day get any worse? Kyoko didn’t have to turn around to know whose breath was making her earlobe curdle.
“Why Nero, this is an unexpected . . . and unwanted surprise.”
“If you think for one nano-second that I enjoy sitting next to the likes of you, then you are as foolish as that shrew who keeps you in her employ.”
Nero Ballantine was the unofficial leader of everything that had to do with national politics and about a third of the international political scene as well. Allegedly, his forefathers not only landed here on the Mayflower, but they also built and steered the ship and were responsible for the feeding and entertaining the troops during the turbulent, transatlantic trip. Next to control freak in the dictionary was a picture of the Ballantine family crest – a vulture plucking out the eyes of a near-dead fluffy rabbit. Nero had learned through centuries of trial and error that it didn’t matter who your opponent was as long as they wound up as your victim.
Since Nero hated everyone his words didn’t alarm Kyoko. What was alarming was that he had stepped down from his self-appointed pedestal in order to speak with an unworthy underling in a public setting. Someone could snap a photograph of Nero sitting inches from a mere mortal like Kyoko and forever dispel the image that he and his ancestors had spent a lifetime creating, which was that money, wealth, and power inoculated them from having to interface, well, with anyone. He must have an incredibly good reason to risk destroying everything he had worked for and Kyoko was rather certain that she didn’t want to know what that reason was. Sadly, this was not turning out to be a wish-granting day for Kyoko.
“After you introduce that unattractive harpy you work for to a treadmill so her ass stops resembling the width of Tennessee,” Nero stated, the smile on his face never faltering, “ask her if she knows the whereabouts of her only son.”
“What are you talking about?” Kyoko replied.
She knew it was a stupid question to ask and Nero knew it was a stupid question to ask so he didn’t waste the breath to reprimand her, he merely elucidated.
“Tell her that he has been crying for her like a helpless newborn suffering from colic and his Peruvian prison guard is contentedly listening to Barry Manilow’s greatest hits on one of those old-fashioned Sony Walkman’s,” Nero explained. “Until, of course, I give the signal for him to hit the stop button and decapitate his prisoner to bring silence back to the correctional facility.”
Oh how Kyoko hated to be elucidated. But what she hated more was being bullied by another bully. Gathering every ounce of courage she could muster she spoke, but could only manage to use her peripheral vision to glance at Nero. Even she had her limits and she wasn’t courageous enough to look Nero directly in the face.
“And what exactly can I do to prevent you from giving that signal?” she asked.
“You might be a woman, Kyoko, but you are an anomaly so I know you’re not stupid.”
Despite the misogynistic comment, Kyoko couldn’t help be revel in the compliment.
“Convince her to keep quiet about Claude’s birthright and her son will be released mentally distraught, but physically unharmed.”
Before she could respond, Nero left her side and for a moment she thought she had imagined the scene. But then she felt some dampness on her panties and she knew that she had just lived through something few others had survived: an altercation with a supreme being.
Kyoko saw Squire D’Trell, the prize-winning New York Times reporter take the stage signaling the start of the debate. She pushed her way through the crowd avoiding both Feodora and Darnell’s attempts to grab her and engage in last-minute conversation and got to Priscilla’s side just as Squire was introducing Claude.
“They have Trey.”
It took a few seconds for Kyoko’s statement to register, but once it did Priscilla’s face turned gray.
“In a Peruvian jail cell and if you utter one word about Sri Lanka, the birthing movement, or even the agony of your own pregnancy, they will cut off his head.”
Neither Kyoko nor Priscilla showed any emotion on their faces so even if someone were watching them they would think the women were discussing where to have dinner after the debate not how to prevent Priscilla’s son’s head from rolling on a plate much to the delight of some Peruvian cannibal.
“How do I know they’re not bluffing?” Priscilla sked.
“Because Nero shared the news with me himself.”
Finally, Kyoko got a reaction that convinced her she had finally won. All confidence and cockiness drained from Priscilla’s body and she looked like she had just been sucker-punched in the gut. Which she kinda had been.
All Priscilla did was nod her head, but Kyoko would take it. She didn’t win by herself, the big guns actually swayed Priscilla to keep her mouth shut, but Kyoko didn’t care, victory was hers and she would take it. Now all she had to worry about was if her wet panties had stained her skirt.
Halfway through the debate, Kyoko could finally relax. She positively beamed when Priscilla used the catch phrase she came up with in reference to allegations that Claude lied on his tax returns and was certain that “I don’t McCook the books” would become part of the country’s vocabulary by the morning.
When Priscilla turned her head to listen intently to Claude ramble on about some unsubstantiated conspiracy theory about Albanian immigrants, she wanted to applaud Juan-Lupito’s talent because she couldn’t see a speck of gray amid Priscilla’s brunette coif.
Only once when foreign policy was discussed, did Kyoko hold her breath, but Priscilla didn’t mention a word that would threaten to reveal Claude’s secret or her son’s life. Neither her opponent or her son had to worry that Priscilla would betray them. Unfortunately, betrayal was often brought to life by the most unsuspecting of suspects.
Deep within the bowels of the Hilton Hotel at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was the tiny janitor’s office. It was a small room, but so isolated from the hustle and bustle of the hotel’s daily activity that Knoxville thought of it as his private sanctuary. He had a toilet, a hot plate, a cot, and a TV, truly all the comforts of home.
Watching Priscilla and Claude live on his 32” flat screen TV in the tiny twelve by twelve foot room, made him feel like he had a front row seat at the event instead of being three floors below the debate venue. He was so far removed that he let down his guard and thought that when he spoke he couldn’t be heard. He was wrong.
“And that is why I never compromised national security by using my own Blackberry to send out personal texts,” Priscilla concluded.
Even over the combination of boos and applause, Knox could still be heard.
“Mercy me, that woman lies better than an ugly child’s mother.”
There were some chuckles as everyone in the hall thought a heckler had gotten hold of a stray microphone. Everyone except those who knew better.
Squire was not one of those who knew better so he fought to conceal a smile and asked Claude the next question about his reluctance to increase the minimum wage.
“A capitalist society does not become more powerful by pumping more capital into the society!” Claude shouted. “Capital must be earned and so I must insist on a maximum cap of the capital a minimum wage earner can earn!”
Again the hootin’ and hollerin’ were no match for Knox’s hecklin’.
“Land sakes, what’s the cap for filing for bankruptcy? Or relocating a factory to Bangladesh?!”
If the crowd was paying attention to its surroundings instead of laughing hysterically and trying to find out who dared interrupt the otherwise structured proceedings with such insightful commentary, they would have noticed the look of terror on the faces of certain people in the room. Claude, Maude, Priscilla, Kyoko, Darnell, Feodora, and even Nero. All of them shared the same horrified look because their worst fear was coming true: The smoking gun was about to go off.
Kyoko didn’t have to drag Priscilla off the stage to warn her that their truth was on the verge of being exposed. Darnell didn’t have to powwow with Claude to advise him of the communication breach. No one had to explain to those who understood that their collective future was being compromised all because Knox had fallen into a false sense of security and quite simply had become all too human.
They all knew that they would survive the evening and no one would guess that Knox’s comments weren’t somehow accidentally picked up by the microphones and broadcast to the public. No one would guess unless someone started digging. And when it comes to politics and especially the presidency, someone always had a theory and a shovel. So everyone ‘in the know’ knew it was only a matter of time before the digging began and Knox’s extraterrestrial vocal talents were discovered. Then soon after that, the unbelievable truth would be confirmed as fact – that aliens had invaded earth quite a long time ago.
And not just one group of aliens, but three different groups from three different planets all of whom arrived here centuries ago with the same common goal: To embark in a race to one day take over the planet.
After years of struggle, infiltration into the highest ranks of political office, and what some unenlightened humans would label murder and mayhem, the aliens were so close to achieving their goal. Come November, whether Claude or Priscilla cinched the presidency, the United States would be ruled by an alien. The only thing that was yet to be determined was which alien planet would claim victory – Claude’s planet of Aquaterra or Priscilla’s homeland of Tenebris. Ironically, Knox’s world of Verdigris was out of the running and yet it was because of his slip of the tongue that the entire clandestine and long-rooted plan was suddenly thrust into jeopardy.
Quite understandably since the plan was now in jeopardy, so was Knox’s life.
Seconds after the debate was over, Knox’s tiny room was filled with angry aliens representing the most powerful planets of any solar system in the universe. Away from the presence of any humans they were able to let their true nature show, both physically and emotionally.
Claude, Maude, and Darnell’s lips, eyes, and extremities pulsed an electric blue. Priscilla, Feodora, and Nero’s hair lengthened into thick gray coils. Only Kyoko’s flesh matched the green neon color of Knox’s, together casting an incandescent glow in the small room that threatened to engulf all its inhabitants.
Nero’s voice was as cold as the solid ice that filled his veins. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”
Knox shrugged his green shoulders lazily, “Told the truth?”
“Dug your own grave, you idiot!”
Feodora’s gray tongue hung in mid-air pointing at Knox like a rifle until she sucked it back into her mouth.
“What are you gonna do, kill me?” Knox asked. “I’m sorry, what’s the human word for political murder? Assassination.”
“You’re not worthy of assassination!” Priscilla barked.
Knox’s laughter filled the room perplexing everyone watching him. It was long known that the people of Verdigris generally lacked ambition and the ruthless edge it took to achieve world domination, but they weren’t believed to be a stupid people. Kyoko was proof of that, but Knox’s actions were telling a different story. Until his words changed everything around.
“Let’s break down the word ‘assassination’ shall we?” he asked rhetorically. “You take two asses like Claude and Priscilla out of the nation and what are you left with?”
Kyoko as a fellow Verdigrisan was able to follow the logic.
Knox applauded his alien brethren and added, “And I have just become all y’alls worst nightmare.”
The Human Race
If anyone ever doubts that the underbelly of politics is disgusting, all they need to do is visit a hotel conference room hours before a presidential debate.
While the debate hall is dripping in so much patriotic flair that the designers of Disney’s Main Street USA will appear to be communist sympathizers in comparison and the actual stage where the candidates will engage in a Wrestlemania-style caged death match (thankfully sans the requisite skimpy outfits) will be meticulously designed to please a television viewer’s critical, demanding eye, the rest of the building is a pigsty. And a pigsty that smells like those skimpy, sweaty outfits after being slammed onto those wrestling mats for several hours.
That’s why Darnell Weisenberg, Press Secretary for the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, is sitting at a desk in a room the size of a broom-closet-on-steroids breathing through his mouth.
“I think I smell the rotting carcass of Adlai Stevenson,” Darnell declared. “And it smells like political failure. Twice-baked!”
“Who’s Adlai Stevenson?”
Luckily the person asking that question wasn’t Claude McCook, the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, but rather Maude McCook, the Republican Party’s presidential candidate’s wife. While Claude is considered a newcomer to the world of politics, Maude isn’t even considered by the world of politics as someone worthy of being noticed. The problem is that the world outside of politics heartily disagrees.
Maude McCook née Chamberlain is one of those self-made women who made millions by selling herself. Saddled without talent, intelligence, curiosity, or personality, Maude had two things she knew the rest of the world coveted: a swoon-worthy face and a lust-inducing body. And so at the ripe old age of 19 she exploited both.
One leaked sex tape (that would be considered merely risqué by today’s standards) led to a reality TV show, which led to beauty product endorsements, which somehow led to the creation of Then There’s Maude, Inc., the multi-million dollar business operation that Maude oversees and somehow covers everything from cosmetics and apparel to real estate and medical research. Now at 51, she is known and begrudgingly respected worldwide and has been thrice-labeled the Most Influential Woman in the World by Time magazine. To offset that prestigious honor she’s also been labeled Hottest MILF by Maxim magazine which is a bit of a lie since Maude is only a step-mother to her husband’s children and, therefore, can technically only be a SMILF. But with breasts like hers that still remarkably defy gravity without the aid of any artificial enhancement, why quibble?
Now the Republican Party doesn’t want to bar Maude from the political arena based on her past history and outrageously beautiful looks, on the contrary, they’d love to be able to push her front and center into the harsh political footlights and use her as the face of the New Female Republican. But they can’t. Because Maude is, quite simply, stupid.
In the business world all her meetings are held behind closed doors and she is surrounded by a team of managers who can translate any of her idiotic comments into impressive business jargon. When she’s interviewed by the pop culture media, the highlight of the ‘get’ is always her physical prowess, but the clips are so heavily edited that when she is heard speaking, her sound bites make her appear witty and aloof. And as long as she’s heard uttering her trademark phrase “Maude’s mad about it” the public is satisfied. What the public doesn’t understand is that Maude is neither trying to appear witty or aloof by speaking in the third person, she only does so because she addresses everyone else by their first name and she hates to be left out of anything.
“Seriously Darnell,” Maude said. “Who’s this Adlai Stevens?”
“Son!” Darnell corrected. “Adlai Stevenson!”
“Oh Sweetie, you know Maude doesn’t do that anymore,” Maude replied. “Maude is married. Maude would like to do that, she really, really, really would, but . . . well, do you think Claude would be upset if Maude did?”
Having walked down this road before, Darnell knew that it was better to explain than to argue.
“Adlai Stevenson was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee in both 1952 and 1956,” Darnell explained, “And both times he lost to Dwight D. Eisenhower.”
Something strange and unprecedented happened after Darnell spoke, Maude’s eyes lit up as if she understood exactly what he was saying. It was as if that piece of scientific folklore came true and one out of the hundreds of monkeys in the typewriter pool actually produced a close-to-perfect draft of Love’s Labors Lost. But when Maude spoke, Darnell realized her monkey brain didn’t have a clue.
“Oh! He’s just like that poor Annette Bening.”
Darnell had only been in Maude’s company for the past several months, ever since Claude woke up one Sunday morning and decided to run for the presidency, but he had already learned that it was not possible to resist taking the bait when she uttered such ridiculous comments. He claimed it was because he was cataloging them for a tell-all tome he was planning to write when the election was over, but he was beginning to think that it was because he was actually intrigued by how her mind worked.
“Tell me Maude,” Darnell said. “How is Adlai Stevenson just like Annette Bening?”
“Isn’t it obvious?”
“No, Maude, it isn’t obvious, that’s why I’ve asked for clarification.”
“But you’re so smart Darnell, I thought you’d know.”
“By definition, ‘to ask’ means that one does not know, so please,
Maude, put us both out of our misery and tell me.”
“Oh I’m sorry, are you not feeling well?”
Wishing she were attending one of her business meetings where no one ever raised their voice to her instead of being here in this cramped room with one of her husband’s very rude and clearly dumb employees, Maude decided it was best to share some wisdom with the less fortunate.
“Annette Bening lost the Best Actress Academy Award in 1999 and 2004 and both times she lost to Hilary Swank,” Maude explained. “So you see, Annette and Adlai are like the same person. Except different genders, of course. And, of course, one is dead and the other’s alive. Though I don’t think Annette works much anymore so her career’s kind of dead. And if you’re an actress with a dead career, are you really alive?”
Shockingly, Darnell followed the thread of logic in Maude’s comment and thought that her Adlai-Annette comparison was borderline insightful. He then immediately wondered if this meant that Maude was becoming smarter, or if by osmosis and his close and sustained proximity to her, he was becoming dumber. Her next comment put everything back into its correct perspective.
“Oh great, the Cow and the Milk Lady have decided to show up right when you and Maude were starting to discuss important things.”
Without turning around to see who entered the room, Darnell knew. ‘Cow’ was Maude’s affectionate nickname for her husband, Claude. It wasn’t because Claude in any way resembled a cow, but because they met two years ago while at a charity event at a dairy farm in upstate New York and although Maude is lactose intolerant the two immediately hit it off and have been inseparable ever since. The Milk Lady, however, is not as affectionate a nickname, but the moniker Maude has bestowed upon Feodora Lazenby, the Chairwoman of the Republican National Party. Or as Maude so eloquently puts it, “That Republican whore who wants to tug on my Cow’s utter.”
Even though there is no evidence of an affair between Claude and Feodora, Maude is convinced otherwise and, at best, thinks that it is only a matter of time before Feodora gets her hands on what is utterly not hers to touch. Claude, being a man who likes to be the center of attention, has done little to convince his wife that she has nothing to worry about and that his relationship with Feodora is purely professional. Twice in one minute, Darnell was forced to admit that Maude might not really be as stupid as her IQ test suggests because he knows that Feodora would like nothing more than for her relationship with Claude to be anything but professional. The very thought of it made Darnell’s stomach turn. Dealing with three loose cannons is not easy and it’s no wonder that Darnell’s diet consists primarily of Nature Valley trail mix bars, Pepto Bismal, and Imodium.
“Weisenberg!” Claude shouted from behind Darnell.
The Press Secretary was so transfixed watching Maude’s face contort into a grotesque scowl as if she was auditioning to play Alexis Carrington Colby in some drag version of Dynasty: The Musical that he forgot to brace himself for what always followed Claude shouting his name. So when Claude slapped him on the back, Darnell lurched forward and almost knocked his coffee all over his notes.
“Careful Weisenberg,” Claude barked. “If you ruin those notes, what the hell am I gonna say when those pesky reporters ask me a question?”
“Answer them as brilliantly as you always do,” Feodora answered.
“Back off Feodora!” Maude cried. “Or I swear Maude will pull an Eisenhower and turn you into Adlai Stevenson right here and right now.”
Both men in the room were impressed for completely different reasons. Darnell felt like Henry Higgins after teaching Eliza Doolittle the necessity of the letter ‘h’. And Claude felt like Henry VIII after watching Anne Boleyn bitch slap Catherine of Aragon. The result, however, was the same and both men were aroused.
“Now, now, Maude,” Claude began. “Feodora is only doing her job as Chairwoman and giving me the emotional support someone in my position desperately needs and, might I add, deserve.”
The sound of Claude’s voice always unsettled Maude. She knew that to most of the world he sounded like the lovechild of Truman Capote and Marlene Dietrich, but to her he sounded like undiluted testosterone. No matter how mad she might be all he had to do was speak a few words and she was the lovesick 49-year-old she was when she first laid eyes on him walking through the dairy farm trying not to step in cowpies.
“Maude is sorry Sweetie Cow,” Maude purred. “Maude’s just missed you so.”
“And I’ve missed you,” Claude replied. “But I’ve told you Maudie that you need to start practicing patience. Once I win this thing you’ll have to share me with the rest of the country.”
“I know you’ll think Maude cruel and the worst wife ever in the entire universe,” Maude started, “But there’s a part of Maude that hopes you lose the election.”
Darnell and Feodora gasped so loudly most of the oxygen was sucked out of the little room.
“There! Maude’s said it,” Maude said. “Maude hopes you lose.”
“Blaspheme!” Feodora cried and clutched Claude’s bicep to steady herself.
“I’m sorry!” Maude cried even louder. “It’s how Maude feels and Maude did not become a beloved celebrity by hiding Maude’s emotions.”
“No, Maude became a beloved celebrity by not hiding Maude’s privates,” Darnell remarked.
“Enough squabbling,” Claude said. “You should all know by now that there’s enough Claude to go around even if the entire population of the United States wants a piece.”
“Spoken like a true leader!” Feodora exclaimed, still clenching Claude’s bicep.
“I hate to interrupt,” Darnell lied. “But we have a debate to prepare for.”
Claude rolled his eyes and chuckled at Darnell’s use of the word ‘prepare’ because Claude never prepared for a single thing in his entire life. Born into incredible wealth, Claude slithered out of his mother’s womb and instinctively understood that he could live life by his own rules because he had the safety net of an interest-bearing multi-million dollar trust fund and a family name that could get him out of the worst jams he might find himself in. And there were countless jams, one worse than the other, through the years.
Claude drank, caroused, and slept his way through Swiss boarding school, Harvard Business School, and most of the civilized world before settling down with his first wife whom he met at foam party in Monaco. Svetlana divorced him three years and two children later when she caught him au naturale with Padma, one of the editors of one of the many magazines he published. Padma divorced him two years and one child later, when she caught him dozing off while they were au naturale. Claude claimed he was exhausted from work, Padma knew he, like her, had simply become bored at working to save their marriage. The following year he met Maude and they’ve been inseparable ever since. Until certain times when Darnell demands he have Claude all to himself.
“Maude needs to leave,” Darnell declared.
“You heard the man in charge,” Feodora added. “Maude needs to leave.”
“And so does Feodora.”
Feodora Lazenby glared at Darnell, but didn’t say a word. Although she was not a woman who typically took orders, she knew when to take them. She had not risen to the top of the political food chain by being a picky eater, she ate everything and anything that stood in her way to achieve success, power, and respect, but she also knew when to swallow her pride and wait for her next meal. As much as she adored Claude she knew that her fantasies of having late-night, private meetings with him in the Oval Office would only come true if he won the election. Which meant that she had to respect Darnell’s fantasy of being in charge.
“You are so right Darnell,” Feodora said. “We ladies will leave you gentlemen alone so you can master the art of the debate.”
Maude gave Claude a deep, very non-presidential kiss, but kept one eye open to make sure that Feodora saw that Maude saw Feodora looking at Maude.
Wanting to be rid of Maude as quickly as possible, Feodora waved her arm toward the door allowing Maude to leave first.
“After you my dear.”
“Of course,” Maude replied. “Ladies first.”
After the door slammed in Feodora’s face, she turned to the two men in the room and made a pronouncement worthy of Queen Elizabeth on a heavy flow day.
“I bid you gentlemen adieu,” she bellowed, “But be advised that I expect to be informed as to the decisions you make regarding tonight’s debate. I don’t think I need to remind you of the importance of this telecast.”
Claude’s high-pitched, lispy laugh echoed throughout the small room.
“Oh Feodora!” Claude cried. “You act like I’ve never been able to seduce an audience before.”
Although neither Darnell nor Feodora really knew the full extent of Claude’s exploits, they had heard stories and they had their own wicked imaginations. Thus, they knew that Claude could seduce an audience of one or one thousand. The problem was that during tonight’s debate he was going to have to do the seducing fully clothed. And do it with Priscilla Papillon standing right next to him. In public, the entire Republican Party pooh-poohed Priscilla’s debating abilities, but behind closed doors they were shaking in their elephant-skin boots because Priscilla was a formidable opponent with decades more experience as a debater. Every Republican, especially Feodora, was worried.
“You know I would never make the mistake of doubting your skills of seduction,” Feodora stated. “But you shouldn’t make the mistake of doubting Priscilla’s skills either.”
It was as if someone just announced that Claude would need to file bankruptcy. For the fourth time.
“That chinless widow?!” Claude cried in disbelief. “Are you serious?”
“Do not underestimate the seductive power of the widow,” Darnell declared. “Black or chinless.”
“Forget about Priscilla, darling, and listen to Darnell,” Feodora instructed. “But remember that the fate of the free world is riding on how well you do tonight.”
“Is that all?” Claude asked without a hint of irony.
Feodora started to leave the room and turned back one last time to see Claude and Darnell already huddled over the pile of papers on the table. She loved how quickly powerful men took orders from her, it gave her such a rush of excitement. When she turned back around to exit, excitement drained from her body and was replaced with fury.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Feodora whispered.
“I’m here to issue a warning,” Kyoko replied.
Feodora ushered the Democratic Party’s Press Secretary out of the room before the two men could see that their tiny sanctuary had almost been invaded by a member of the enemy camp. And an enemy with a prophecy.
“How dare you barge in here in that . . . that . . . dowdy Democratic dress?!”
“Oh shut up Feodora!” Kyoko snapped, “This dress cost more than your entire J.C. Penney wardrobe. I’m here to do you a favor.”
Feodora smirked primarily because she had bought her black and white houndstooth suit at Sears and not Penney’s, but also because she loved when Democrats came a-crawling. “Is Priscilla ready to admit defeat?”
“No, she’s ready to use the smoking gun.”
A-crawling like a flea-bitten rat!
“Does she want to commit political suicide?!”
“Not that smoking gun,” Kyoko clarified. “The other one.”
Feodora took a deep breath. She had been waiting for this day to come, but had hoped Priscilla wouldn’t have the guts to pull the trigger. Once again the Democratic hopeful proved her wrong.
“If you’re serious, then you need to do everything in your power to change her mind,” Feodora ordered. “Because if Priscilla reveals the truth about one smoking gun it’s only a matter of time before the truth about the other smoking gun becomes front page news and the world is not ready for that revelation.”
“Don’t you think I know that?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t matter if you know that or if I know that,” Feodora replied, “If Priscilla doesn’t know that then we’re all screwed!”
Kyoko grabbed Feodora’s arm and pulled her closer to her. Feodora flinched thinking it was a closeted lesbian move on Kyoko’s part to create some intimacy between the two women, but then she saw how serious Kyoko looked. Feodora might be Republican, but she was a woman working in a so-called man’s profession so she knew a thing or two about lesbians. The primary bit of knowledge being that they were not known for their jovial nature. Even still, the intense look on Kyoko’s face had absolutely nothing to do with intimacy and everything to do with fear.
“Priscilla does know that,” Kyoko hissed. “But I don’t think she cares anymore. She doesn’t care if the world finds out that Claude isn’t really Claude!”
Why do Asians always shout when they get scared? “Keep your voice down!” Feodora yelled. “This hallway could be bugged.”
Why do Republicans always become paranoid when they get scared? “Don’t you think I already did a hallway sweep?”
“I’m sorry,” Feodora said. “I know how efficient your people are. What I didn’t realize was how selfish the person you work for is.”
“Priscilla isn’t selfish,” Kyoko replied, “she’s desperate! She knows this election is starting to slip through her grasp and she will do anything she can to get back on top of the polls.”
“Even if her actions have such a ripple effect that the world may never recover?”
“As long as it means she gets to be in the top spot and be the one who heals the world,” Kyoko explained. “Priscilla will take the risk of exposing Claude for who and what he really is – a native of Sri Lanka and not Lancaster, Pennsylvania like he and you and the entire Republican Party have led the world to believe. And if by doing so that other smoking gun is revealed, well then, she’s prepared to suffer the consequences.”
While that statement repulsed Feodora and instilled in her a sense of foreboding because it was clear that someone else had the power to destroy every single thing she had worked for her entire life, she was also impressed. If only Claude had one-tenth of Priscilla’s courage to add to his charisma, then it wouldn’t matter about any smoking gun or what he said during a debate or the fact that his real birth certificate said “product of some third world country that no one can even find on a globe,” he would win the election by a landslide. But when it comes to courage, some women got it and some men don’t. And Feodora was forced to admit that the only important thing Claude had was a foreign born skeleton in his closet big enough to make his entire campaign and the entire Republican Party implode overnight.
She would do anything to prevent that from happening. Even the unthinkable.
“Well my friend we have no choice,” Feodora said. “The time has come for us to join forces and bring that bitch down.”
The Human Race
The votes are in and the results are unanimous. Change is coming and once it arrives, the world will never be the same.
The first truly viable female presidential candidate in the history of the United States entered the room. She didn’t expect to be greeted with tumultuous applause, either spontaneous or manufactured, for the only other person in the room was her Press Secretary. And her Press Secretary never applauded because her hands were always otherwise engaged holding, at least, a clipboard, a cellphone, and a ziploc bag filled with honey-lemon lozenges. However, the presidential hopeful also never expected to be greeted by an audible gasp. Followed by a piercing cry.
For a moment, Priscilla Papillon, the Democratic Party’s hope for a history-making, gender-bending future, thought the Hilton Hotel at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport was under siege by radical terrorists or bitter Midwestern members of what was once the influential group known as the Tea Party and almost gave in to the instinct to duck and lie flat on the floor. With one quick look at the threadbare and worse, mauve, carpet, Priscilla was happy that she resisted such a primal urge. Terrorists and Midwesterners be damned, she was not going to risk soiling her suit. Unfortunately, her Press Secretary already thought it was an eyesore.
“Priscilla!” Kyoko screamed once again. “You cannot wear that suit at tonight’s debate!”
At this point in their relationship, Priscilla was accustomed to Kyoko’s Tourette-like outbursts and it was one of the reasons the Asian-American, happily-married-yet-closeted-lesbian, was considered such an asset to this groundbreaking team. Unlike most of the other members in Priscilla’s inner circle, Kyoko Takahashi had no qualms about telling the truth and nothing but the truth. Other top-tier personnel would tap dance around a sensitive issue like an epileptic hoofer, but Kyoko, true to her Japanese heritage, spoke her mind even if her comments could be as sharp and culturally offensive as a Samurai’s blade. Most of the time Priscilla was grateful for Kyoko’s honesty. Now was not one of those times.
“Why the hell not?” Priscilla asked in her trademark rasp. “It’s my favorite.”
It was because of situations like this that Kyoko was drawn to the political arena. Here, she could use her insight and Jeopardy-esque knowledge about the world and how its inhabitants think, feel, and act, to steer a campaign away from metaphorical icebergs and toward victory. She could affect change.
“I don’t care if it’s your favorite, Priscilla, it’s . . . BROWN!”
The last word burst out of her mouth like the mushroom cloud that appeared in the sky above her great-grandparents’ farm when they were newlyweds. Incomprehensible and without warning.
“But Kyoko, that’s why it’s my favorite,” Priscilla whined uncharacteristically, “Earth tones flatter my ruddy complexion. Especially under the harsh TV lights.”
The emotionless mask that was always tightly screwed to Kyoko’s face to hide any hint of expression started to shatter. Her almond shaped eyes grew so big they became ovals, her thick, flat nostrils elongated and flared, and her unnaturally white teeth clamped together like someone slipped Krazy Glue into her toothpaste. Kyoko was so angry that even with her jaw clenched, every word that she shouted could be distinctly heard.
“No they don’t!” Kyoko spat. “They just make you look . . . ruddier! Like one of those breast cancer runners who’ve never set foot on a treadmill, but think that just because they fasten a pink ribbon to their overpriced Lulu Lemon everyday Yogi tank top, they’ll be able to run a 5K! It’s stupid and unsubstantiated! Not the Lulu Lemon Yogi tank top, that’s perfect, it fits snug on the back, but skims loosely in the front and flatters the breasts those runners are trying to save. I have five, all in heathered black, because black’s my color. It matches my hair. And I like when things match. What’s a stupid and unsubstantiated comment is that you think your brown suit is a positive fashion statement!”
Undeterred, Priscilla replied, “Of course it is.” And then strategically positioned herself next to the airport’s logo of a globe in the shape of a Georgia peach and added, “The subliminal message is that brown transforms me into Mother Earth.”
One of Kyoko’s unnaturally oval-shaped eyes began to twitch. “And the actual message your brown suit conveys is that you’re a sad, isolated, and decaying woman!” Waving her clipboard over her head, Kyoko continued, “Because that, Miss Priscilla, is how 87.5% of the voting-age population interprets the color brown. As the color of decay! Do you think that’s who voters want to watch in a presidential debate? Is that who you think voters want in the White House? A decaying corpse? Answer me!”
Priscilla knew that regardless of how intimidating and influential the rest of the world might view her, whenever Kyoko addressed her as ‘Miss Priscilla’, she lost all of her bargaining power and had no choice but to acquiesce to her Press Secretary’s wishes.
“No Kyoko that is not who they want.”
But because Priscilla did not reach the lofty heights she currently resides in, with the glass ceiling pressing down on her teased-up, heavily-dyed brunette hair, due diligence typically followed acquiescence. “But are you sure about that? I mean really sure?”
Kyoko didn’t explode because she was expecting a follow-up question. Instead, she took a deep breath that allowed her features to return to their natural states and sat down at one of the two plastic folding chairs at the small square table, which were the only pieces of furniture in the room, and replied, “Yes, I’m really sure, it’s all in the market research.”
Sitting across from Kyoko in the other folding chair, Priscilla folded her hands on the table, leaned forward and scrutinized her employee with the same intensity usually reserved for foreign heads of state right at the turning point of a particularly rough negotiation and confessed, “I had absolutely no idea. I thought brown made me look strong and grounded.”
“Just the opposite,” Kyoko corrected. “It makes you look weak and undetermined. And don’t even get me started on what that yellow blouse adds to the equation.”
Priscilla didn’t respond, well not articulately. She slumped back in her chair and let out a small whimper.
Unable to resist the opportunity, Kyoko pounced. “Yellow on top of brown paints you as an irrational, depressed woman on the brink of suicide.”
This time Priscilla’s whimper was not small. It was also not an easy whimper for Kyoko to interpret. And when Kyoko couldn’t interpret something, she became anxious.
“You’re not contemplating suicide are you?” she asked.
In her gut, Priscilla knew Kyoko was only asking in order to prevent a gap in the day’s planned schedule and not out of compassion for her well-being, but still is was a thoughtful question. “No,” Priscilla replied, her voice once again strong and unwavering. “Absolutely not.”
“Good,” Kyoko barked. “Because we have a very tight schedule.”
Priscilla didn’t care about the schedule, she really didn’t even care what kind of emotional resonance her outfit’s color scheme had on the voting public, all she cared about was defeating her opponent. And she didn’t care what she had to do to secure a defeat.
“So do you think it’s finally time to disclose the smoking gun?” Priscilla asked.
“Which one?” Kyoko replied, her head not even lifting to meet Priscilla’s steely glare.
Priscilla rolled her eyes, but since Kyoko still hadn’t looked up and was pouring over her notes, the melodramatic gesture played to an empty house. “You know which gun I’m talking about,” she added. “The one that will guarantee Claude McCook only steps foot into the White House as my guest.”
How delusional can these people be, Kyoko thought. It must be lack of oxygen when they rise to such Olympian heights that makes them lose all touch with reality. Or perhaps it’s a result of living years of entitlement and isolation that makes them think they are beyond reproach, that only others can be held accountable for their deeds and their histories, and only others can tumble down from the precarious pedestal they’re perched upon. How can they possibly think that they will get away with what they’ve done? Don’t they watch CSI? Don’t they know their are clues everywhere? Don’t they know that every person ultimately has to pay for what they’ve done even if that person is rich, powerful, and on the short list to become president?
“You forget that Claude has a smoking gun too,” Kyoko said. “With your name on it.”
Waving a manicured hand in the air, Priscilla scoffed, “I’m not talking about the double-barrelled gun that we share and that bears both our names, I’m talking about the other one.”
“Oh that one.”
“Yes that one.”
“It’s too soon.”
“But he’s rising in the polls.”
“He’s been rising. And falling. That’s his rhythm,” Kyoko explained. “When he rises and then continues to rise, that’s when we use that weapon against him. If we use it before that time it’ll be premature and the only premature event that ever turned out to be a blessing was your husband’s premature death.”
“Kyoko!” Priscila cried, her voice filled with unconvincing moral outrage. “How dare you use Mr. Papillon’s name in vein!”
“Do you even remember Mr. Papillon’s first name?” Kyoko asked.
Priscilla thought for a moment, but since she couldn’t decide between Peter or Paul, she changed the subject. “We’ve held onto this secret for quite a long time, don’t you think it’s time to use it?”
Kyoko hated to be second guessed. Especially by an employer. “Don’t you think it’s time to change?”
When Priscilla’s eyes darted away from Kyoko’s Asian-American laser-focused gaze, the Press Secretary realized a Suitgate scandal was still a possibility.
“Why can’t you look me in the eye Priscilla? Why are you turning away from me? And why in the name of the Supreme Buddha, the Dalai Lama, ARE YOU STILL WEARING YELLOW AND BROWN?!”
Each question was like a dagger in Priscilla’s heart. She knew that at this point in the race for the presidency how she looked was far more important than what she said or thought about domestic and foreign policy and yet after all these decades of being in the public eye, she has never gained an iota of fashion sense. She still clung to the hope that the crocheted poncho would make a comeback and had three hanging in her closet just waiting to be worn with a comfortable, broken-in pair of Birkenstocks. Instantly, the second smoking gun was forgotten and Priscilla was forced to explain to Kyoko that the only other suit she brought with her was her gray one. It was a comment that resulted in Kyoko tossing the ziploc bag in the air so it landed with a thump in the middle of the table.
“Didn’t I already tell you that your gray suit makes you look like an overweight cloud of doom?” Kyoko asked, somewhat rhetorically.
“Yes,” Priscilla replied softly while reaching out to grab a honey-lemon lozenge that broke free from the ziploc bag upon impact.
“Then why did you bring it?”
In a heartbeat, the Democratic presidential nominee, the first woman to ever receive a major political party’s backing to run for the highest office in the free world, was transported back to the insecurities of the grammar school playground.
Sucking loudly on a lozenge Priscilla replied, “Because I’ve lost five pounds and thought the gray might now appear flattering.”
Kyoko allowed her emotionless mask to crack once again, but this time it was to bring a smirk to the surface of her lips and a squint to her already slanted eyes. They were all the same, she thought with a mixture of pride and revulsion. They could be insanely rich, preternaturally powerful, and yet all of these people were exactly the same at their core — they were little children just begging to be scolded. They longed for someone even more powerful to grab them by their wrists, rip down their pants, throw them over a knee, and slap their tiny, powerless, insecure buttocks with a firm hand. So that’s what Kyoko did, figuratively of course, with one simple sentence.
“Fat or almost-fat, Priscilla, a cloud of doom is still a cloud of doom.”
When Priscilla nodded her head frantically in agreement with Kyoko’s pronouncement, Kyoko could see some gray beginning to emerge from the presidential nominee’s scalp thus ruining the landscape of the brunette helmut and made a note to book an appointment with Juan-Lupito, the Party’s official hair colorist, for a touch-up. Even with this distraction she didn’t lose sight of the matter at hand.
“Lucky for you I always think ahead,” Kyoko announced, “I brought your navy blue pantsuit with the cream blouse. It makes you appear strong, authoritative, commanding, and most important, like a hermaphrolitical.”
“Thank you Kyoko,” Priscilla gushed. “I can always count on you.”
Then she replayed Kyoko’s comments in her head. “Hermaphrolitical?! What the hell does that mean?”
Kyoko’s bony fingers retracted into a fist and pounded onto the table at the same time she shouted, “Like you’re a political hermaphrodite!”
What? Priscilla had spent decades as a public servant working with underprivileged families in all parts of the country. In the deep south she knew an opponent was a coward and not to be feared if someone described him as the type of person who wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight. While working with coal miners in Appalachia she knew that when someone said that it looks like a bunch of hogs running around with sticks in their mouths it was time to break out the parka because the temperature was going to drop. She successfully negotiated arms treaties with Middle Eastern rebels, helped raise human rights concerns in communist China, and convinced a reluctant Vladimir Putin to put his shirt back on during a climate change summit. Those language barriers were easy to break, but not this one. She heard Kyoko’s comment, but had no idea what she said. Kyoko could tell by her boss’ confused expression that she needed to translate.
“Like you’re a woman with the biggest pair of balls on the planet!”
Finally, Kyoko was speaking Priscilla’s language.
But would Priscilla speak the public’s language during the debate later on tonight? Would she say the right things to keep moving up in the polls and not stumble down a few notches like she had done so many times before? That’s what both women were worrying about. Well, to be specific, they were both worrying about Claude McCook.
The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Claude was an unexpected, but now formidable, opponent who had broken every rule to rise to the top. Last year he wasn’t even a member of their party, he was a registered Independent, but now he was Alpha Republican. He seemed to be made of Teflon and could say or do the most outrageous things and still not lose support and remain the people’s choice. It was unbelievable to think that four short months ago Priscilla was looked on by all sides as the guaranteed winner, the next POTUS, and now she was struggling to maintain a mere five point lead over her opponent.
In her mind, she had one choice and that was to pull out that smoking gun and fire a bullet right into Claude’s heart to annihilate him and his candidacy or else risk losing everything she had worked her entire life to achieve. Every choice she had ever made since she was a six-year-old girl and first uttered the words “I pledge allegiance to the flag” while living in poverty in rural Tennessee had brought her to this point and there was no way in hell she was going to allow a twice-divorced, former magazine publisher, and celebrity golf-pro destroy her chance to fulfill her destiny. It just wasn’t going to happen. No matter what Kyoko said about waiting.
No, Priscilla said to herself, she was done waiting. She was done being the good little girl who played by rules made up by the big boys. The time had come for her to use her secret weapon and get ride of her competition once and for all.
True, Claude McCook possessed a mighty pair. But if he hadn’t figured it out by now, he – and the rest of the world for that matter – were about to find out that his balls were no match for Priscilla’s.