“As far as I know,” I said. “There’s a photograph of him that purports to verify it.”
“What shall I tell the Elders?”
“What do you mean?”
“My monthly report is due.” His voice was trending deeper and sounding more like that of James Earl Jones.
“I’ll have to explain it to them, and I expect you can ascertain the difficulty I shall encounter.”
“What difficulty?” I was really just screwing with him a bit.
“Why a sense of protocol seems to have left your government along with all the other respectable attributes so long observed but now neglected.”
“What are you talking about?”
That was it. He turned to face me squarely. “Want me to phrase it in your terminology?”
“Shall I tell them that your country is going to hell in a handbasket?”
“Don’t you think that is a bit extreme?”
“A president plays golf and posts insults about people on your Internet system while the country buries a man who underwent nearly six years of imprisonment and torture in the service of his fellow Americans. My take on it is extreme?”
“It’s just him.”
“No, it’s his party. How shall I explain it? There is no Falloonian word or expression for such collective callousness.”
“What about that term you used on me after I told you my wife really loved that song Having My Baby and you played if for her on her birthday?”
“Mrs. Big Dope forgave me after I explained. And, by the way, the bruises have all healed. The term is Einterietudaahnis++.’”
“Do the clicks establish the exact portion of the anatomy involved?”
“Now listen,” he said. “I’m serious. Can you please place your frivolous levity aside and engage with me in serious contemplation?”
“On one condition.”
“What’s that, pray tell?” his voice deepening more.
I said, “Promise me that if we find a solution, you’ll say ‘We have the meat.’ in your report.” I broke up laughing.
He didn’t. “Einterietudaahnis++,” was all he said.
“Haven’t you heard of ‘comic relief’ before?”
“I have heard of almost every word, term, and idiom in your speech patterns,” he said, “but I fail to see how a term associated with dramatic productions, and favored highly by William Shakespeare, applies to my distress concerned with the gratuitous disrespect paid to one of your country’s highly esteemed veterans and statesmen.”
“I’m hurting myself,” I said. “Along with 60 percent of the country. I see a final end coming in the production of true American heroes, and I almost cry, as the Psalmist said, when I, figuratively, sit on the bank of the river and remember the nation that was our Zion. Even President Abraham Lincoln relied on humor to support him during our nation’s greatest crisis. Can’t I use it when dealing with its second greatest crisis?”
He thought. “As much as I encounter difficulty in accepting your point, I’ll admit it a shred of viability.”
“Thank you,” I said.
“Now,” he said, “perhaps you might set aside your humorous demeanor, for a moment, and help me explain to my superiors how an elected president of a country like yours can behave with such gratuitous disrespect during the memorial services for a far better man than he?”
“Just tell them …,” I began.
“Tell them what?”
“Tell them that it as a damn good thing it wasn’t a service for John Lewis.”