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"Moist Toilettes, Fat Blunts and Free Celery: A Trip Inside American Politics"
"Moist Toilettes, Fat Blunts, and Free Celery: The Vile Serpent's Revenge"
Fictionalizations by Fatima Hussein
Moist Toilettes, Fat Blunts, and Free Celery: A Trip inside American Politics
I must’ve seen at least a million cars surfing the opposite direction, obviously fleeing from the place I intended to go. My head, pressed against the steel siding, continually bumped against the greasy, finger-print-smudged window, while the bus speedily bumped up and down as it merged onto the highway. I tried to make due with a make-shift pillow out of a snagged cardigan my sister bought me years ago.
Riding the charter bus filled with the city’s most pretentious Young Democrats, already prepared to become America’s most vile serpents, politicians, the trip to Orlando to meet Barack Obama was a long one. Many came for a chance to get a photo taken with the candidate, in hopes that other pseudo-politicians and picture frames everywhere would gawk in jealously. Others simply needed an interesting story to tell friends, family, and co-workers alike, about the endeavors that occurred in their empty, corporate lives. Regardless, the cost per person was $250, and I was invited for free, along with two friends, on the condition that I would write a lengthy PR piece for the group’s 1,200-readership newsletter. Even better, the website I was working for offered me spin-room press passes, also on the condition that I would write for them a 1,500 word description of the event. Though it meant a week's worth of writing, it also indicated that I had a pretty good chance of asking the presidential candidate personally, "Where's the beef?"
I sat in the last row of the rickety bus, along with my two invitees: my older sister Sarah and best friend Haris. The question of whether or not “legendary game-spitter” Birdman actually molested his adopted son Lil’ Wayne came up between us, only to be pondered in spurts of silence.
My sister, an attorney who’d already familiarized herself with the booze’n shmooze lifestyle prevalent amongst America’s young professionals, had already started asking where one could obtain a moist toilette on, “This God forsaken people cart.” She decided to travel with me for the same reason those previously mentioned Democrats had: anything but concern for the political process. I couldn’t refuse asking Sarah to accompany me as “invitee #1;” her generosity with me always bubbled and poured out of her, even when our parents refused to support me. Though I knew half of her openhandedness was motivated out of pomp and a forced spectacle of her money, I could not refute my relation to Sarah, and no wealth disparity could change that.
She took up three seats on the right-hand side, falling asleep on the bus long before the other passengers boarded an hour earlier.
Haris sat beside me, slowly unraveling the tobacco leaf of a Honey Dutch blunt, clumsily tearing it as the bus shook and rattled after hitting potholes that pocked the highway. His reason for joining me was to ensure the fundraising event would have at least one dissenter that night. Donning Ron Paul buttons on a camouflage hat, Haris intended to wreak havoc on the Obama campaign. I was too interested in the manner in which he’d be thrown out to deny him an invitation.
After the first hour on the bus, listening to liberals feigning diplomacy with each other became too unbearable to handle being sober, so we began to smoke what looked more like a witch’s brown-curled finger wrapped in seaweed than a poorly-rolled three gram blunt. With the understanding that smoke could not be tolerated in a tightly enclosed space, we performed what Haris liked to call, the “Houdini”—an act in which one inhales marijuana smoke, and holds it into one’s lungs for such an exorbitant amount of time, that the smoke disappears within the body, leaving nothing to be exhaled.
This, and other smoking feats aimed at concealing three solid grams of marijuana smoke were performed until the bus came to a stop at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Orlando.
After witnessing the media circus surrounding the presidential candidate in the spin-room, I lost any desire I previously had for a handshake or possible exchange from my repertoire of sarcastic comments I concocted in my head hours earlier. When journalists began asking the man if he believed America was great, or the greatest country in the world, I nearly gagged on one of the free, “Word to yo’ Mama, Vote for Obama” pens distributed at the hotel’s entrance.
Within 15 minutes of standing three feet away from the man thousands had traveled far and wide for; a man whose presence I was supposed to be so incredibly enamored to be in, I packed up my writing supplies and cheaply-made camera to find Haris to tell him exactly how shiny and horse-like Barack Obama’s teeth truly were.
I was far too high and far too apathetic to care whether or not I gained anything from this trip, besides a newly acquired workload. The repetition of the word “Change” made me delirious, especially amongst a hoard of people who paid $250 to have a man they barely knew attain it for them.
I ran into the main hall where Sarah and Haris were waiting for me. Sarah stood amongst a gaggle of young lawyers, discussing precisely WHY it is that homeless people look so scruffy and haggard. Haris was disappointedly sprawled across the floor in the back of the room, with a plate of pathetic looking celery and ranch dressing sticks, chanting slogans promoting Ron Paul’s long-ended Revolution song.
I stood at the snack table and wolfed down the last $250 cheese and crackers left that the Young Democrats had so graciously paid for. I laid on the carpet next to my friend, and placed the ridiculous hat Haris had been wearing that entire night over my face.
The crowd eagerly waited 15 minutes, 45 minutes, and then two hours for the candidate to come out to address his devoted followers.
Finally, the double doors opened, the stage cleared, and the secret service men walked briskly into the room to scan for security, one of them mouthed, “He’s coming.” Lights flashed while the room reverberated with the screams of the crowd.
Moist Towelettes, Fat Blunts and Free Celery: The Vile Serpents’ Revenge
A “Meet the Press” ring-tone woke me from my two o’clock, three-hour, once-a-day nap. I stumbled across the room cluttered with newspapers and empty Doritos bags to answer the phone sitting on my desk. I wiped my eyes, flipped open the phone, and responding to my gurgled “Hello?” was the angry shriek of the Young Democrats’ President, Jane Melay. “We need to talk about that article you wrote!”
Whatever grogginess I previously experienced was replaced with the shocking remembrance that I had publicly labeled Jane and her followers, “vile serpents” living “empty corporate lives.” Using my fight-or-flight instinct, I managed to blurt a promise to call her back in a few minutes, then hung up the phone. After composing myself, I immediately dialed the number of Haris to confirm with him that I had not, in fact, done anything wrong in publishing what we thought was an incredibly entertaining story. We discussed how Jane had simply taken my harmless account out of context, and even went so far as to formulate a plan to remind her of the time-honored cliché, “Any press is good press.”
I planned to convince Jane that she of all people should realize that my article was meant to further the cause of the Young Democrats, and by association, regular Democrats. “If we can’t laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at? Certainly not those bastard Republicans…” If anyone would believe that type of hackneyed excuse, it would be the Queen of the vile serpents herself.
After taking a number of deep breaths, and repeating the “first amendment, first amendment, first amendment rights,” mantra that Haris taught me, I dialed Jane’s number and held my breath.
As Jane snarled and boldly recited the creed of the Young Democrats’ Organization, I listened carefully and waited for her to finish her speech. Towards the end of her 10-minute scream-fest, Jane told me that if any of the Young Democrats’ sponsors saw what I had written, her group would lose funding for the upcoming Barack Obama fundraiser I would definitely be discouraged from attending. My final job from Jane was to make sure no one saw what I had written, or else I would personally pay for each member’s $500 ticket for the fundraising event. I was speechless. Jane hung up, and as the phone went completely silent, I began to recite the mantra.
The harsh words of the brutal scolding upset me; so I met with Haris to smoke and concoct plans for how I could possibly get out of the debacle I got myself into. As we talked, Haris rolled one of his infamous spliffs that have the geometric appearance of a Dreidel, as opposed to its more rounded top-shaped counterpart.
After presenting and weighing every viable option, we decided the best idea would be to steal each newspaper from their respective stands around the city, then invite the Young Democrats to a good old-fashioned newspaper burning. Nothing says, “forgive me” like the charring of one’s ideas.
We called the Young Democrats’ headquarters, and after an overheard group meeting and cackles from a crowd, they agreed to meet us in 6 hours, with every issue of the newspaper we could get our hands on. With that, we went to work.
Another spliff was rolled, and the trunk to Haris’ blacked-out Honda Civic was emptied to make room for the thousand-plus newspapers we would have to make sure no Democratic-eye would ever see. We started the car, lit the spliff, and headed on our way. We began stealing from larger stores in our neighborhood we were familiar with, using the, “can I borrow these for a second” line before rushing out. Because the publications were free to the public, there was no need for masks, toy-guns, and living wills.
After approximately three hours of driving around Jacksonville in search of every existing newspaper with my name on it, Haris began desperately trying to coerce passersby to hand over their used copies. We found 268 copies of the newspaper that day.
We arrived to the sight of the bonfire, where a mass of Young Democrats stood waiting. Some were dressed in suits, while others were fitted in what seemed like long, velveteen cloaks; but all of those in attendance were expecting the retraction of my article the best way they saw fit, by burning it.
Haris and I unloaded the hundreds of newspapers onto logs already drenched in lighter fluid, while the Young Democrats who knew what I thought about them gawked and sneered.
The group’s leader, Jane walked out from the center of the crowd, unnaturally prepared for this event. From out of her purse she fished out a book of matches. A single lit match was thrown on the pile and all of the papers engulfed in the flames. As the Young Democrats danced and embraced the warmth of the fire, Haris and I walked towards the car, proud of our work.