Name of the Game
They sat me in a room with a computer, at least six dozen cameras, and seven different suits to choose from. I had five minutes to prepare, and rather than use those five minutes to suit up, primp and preen myself for my appearance in front of the American people, I instead chose to sit and stare at the computer, slack jawed.
How in God's name did I get into this? I'm a fresh graduate of high school, barely old enough to vote. Whose wise-ass idea was it to put me in charge?
Then the cameras whirr and turn on. I'm live, in my t-shirt and jeans. Some of the staff gasp. I don't care.
I'm president for thirty-six hours. No potty breaks. No sleeping. No nothing. So you know what? I'm not going to play by the rules. I don't even want to be here. So I'm not going to be their Barbie doll. I'm not going to dress like them and talk like them with big promises, lofty goals, and silk suits.
I'm going to be me.
"Cameras are rolling, sir," says an old man in a navy blue suit, his pallid skin glistening with sweat. I can't see his eyes behind his thick black shades, but it doesn't matter. I can easily visualize how hard it is for this golden-years gentleman to call an eighteen-year-old child "sir."
"I can see that..." I read his name tag. "... Francis."
I wiggle my eyebrows at his stupidly old-fashioned name and turn back to my computer.
"Hello, great and not-so-great citizens of America! It is I, Kaz Miller, the teenager who is, for the next 36 hours, in charge of your lives!"
Behind me, one of the secret service dudes winces.
"This is bad," he says.
"Hey," another guy says. "Anything is better than the last bastard."
"If any of you think this is a terrible idea," I continue. "You're absolutely right! I had no say in this. A bunch of dudes in fancy-ass suits showed up at my house and flew me here on a helicopter. So, people of the U.S., brace yourselves. Because I won't sugarcoat. I won't fuck around. I'm here to tell you that We The People are failing. We are failing our brothers and siste— Hold up, gotta check my Twitter."
I imagine crappy edited-in laughter like in a sitcom.
"Well," I say. "Louzer666 wants to know... 'wut iz ur opinion on china???"
"Gotta say, man. Don't know who your English teacher was, but she is rolling in her grave. As for China... never been, so I'm not at liberty to say."
Cue more imagined sitcom laughter.
"Liza Greene wants to know— no irony here— about what I plan to do about the environmental impact. Well, Liza, I'm only going to be in here 36 hours, but if I could, I would definitely put some more restrictions in place. I like animals more than people, know what I'm saying?"
"And... Younisse_uh_the_Unicxrn wants to know... 'This is Younisse Unicorn in Connecticut, what the hell is going on, man?' Well, Mr. Unicorn, I have no fucking clue."
"Wyatt_Wrong says 'your tie is lame buddy.' Jokes on you, Mr. Wrong, because I'm not wearing a tie.
And so the first day went.
After the first 24 hours of no sleep, Secret Service Francis brought me a plate full of steak, which I refused.
"I'm a vegetarian," I say. "No meat." Am I a vegetarian? No way. I'm just being a dick.
"Alrighty folks," I say, shoveling in mouthfuls of quinoa salad. "I'm going to check my messages again, and— oh wow! People got lots o' shit to talk about.
Mary_Sue_Ellen_Hill wants to know if I'm single and ready to mingle, becaus ethere are sexy European— um... yeah, that's a spam message. Hmm, how about Traitor_Joes. He wants to know what my opinion is on gays.
So now we get to the juicy stuff. Well, Traitor, I think gay people are human just like everyone else. And since I'm a cis white guy, I don't really know about all the other sexualities and genders and stuff, but I'm cool with them too.
Gentle_In_Me says 'Kaz, I'm trying to be a writer, could you give me a shoutout? Well, I guess I just did! Re-Hymen-Ated (now that's a weird name) wants to know—" I shove another bite of quinoa into my mouth. A guy's gotta eat.
"She says, and I quote 'Are you single and ready to—' ah, another spam. Pity. Hey guys, if you're watching out there, send me in your comments! I've got nothing better to do!
25 hours and counting left.
"Well," I say. "I've got a little more than a day left here in the White House, and I want to say, if I were actually president, I'm going to ban spammers who say 'Are you single and ready to mingle?' Have some originality! Anyway, Xx.yung.xX wants to know "Do you believe in god?'
"Well, in short, no. But in long... maybe. We'll just have to see."
"Kandy_Kayne: 'Do you believe in religious tolerance?' Well, I believe in tolerance. If you're tolerant, I don't care what else you do. That's your business, not mine or the government's."
"Well folks, we're coming up on the last few minutes of my presidency. I want everyone to know that if I didn't get to your comment, it's my bad. Ooh! One last one before we close off. Hungry_Hungry_Heckos wants to know, 'What's 2 + 2?' Oh honey, two plus two is just one of those questions we might never get a straight answer to."
"And that's a wrap, folks! If you hear from me again, it will be as a regular commoner!"
The cameras power down, the rows of unused suits are packed away. I finish my quinoa salad in blessed silence, and then I fall asleep. When I wake up, to my surprise, I'm face to face with Francis the Secret Service Old Guy.
"Well, sir, congratulations."
"Ug... whug?" I groan, still convinced I'm dreaming.
"You were a big hit."
"Doesn't matter," I say, standing up and stretching. "I'm done with that now."
"Well that's just the thing, sir..."
"Well, if we can call the last three days your first term... You've been elected for a second term."