Swans Commentary » swans.com September 24, 2007  



Quality Time In The Rose Garden


by Peter Byrne





(Swans - September 24, 2007)  

She:  Daddy.

He:  Huh-huh.

She:  You know what Mommy says?

He:  Wow. A lot of things.

She:  What she says about time?

He:  Hmm. Sure. She says it's about time and it's time to and this is the last time she's going to put up with...

She:  I mean about prime time. She says we should spend more together.

He:  Zelda, I think you mean quality time.

She:  Well, should we?

He:  I think that's just what we're doing. Don't you like TV anymore?

She:  Not so much.

He:  Just a moment, darling, I want to see how he's going to bumble his way out of this one. There, did you hear that? He doesn't even have to lie anymore. He just tangles up the words, and they pass on to the next question to get away from the confusion.

She:  What are you watching, Daddy?

He:  A press conference in the Rose Garden.

She:  And that man who used to be a liar? What's his name?

He:  Never mind Zelda. He's not for kids.

She:  He's one of those strangers who give us candy?

He:  That's about it. He's a politician.

She:  They're bad men?

He:  Their job is to convince us they're good men. So lying goes with the job.

She:  I'm glad you're not a politician, Daddy.

He:  Listen, now he's talking about God. There are only three letters in the word, and he generally gets it right. But he once said Dog Bless America. Nobody minded. We're a nation that would eat pet food out of a can in a dog biscuit sandwich.

She:  Why do they let him speak to us?

He:  He won a crooked lottery a few years back and that was the prize.

She:  We lost the lottery?

He:  In a big way.

She:  Doesn't he have a name? What's his job called?

He:  Best to forget him like a bad dream. He stunts kids' growth. He'll be out of a job soon. By the time you're ready to vote he'll only be remembered in stale jokes and cemeteries.

She:  I wouldn't want to pass quality time with him.

He:  It wouldn't help your grammar.

She:  Has he finished?

He:  I think so. He always gawps like that at the end. He's just as relieved as we are that it's over.

She:  Does he have a cramp in his mouth?

He:  No. Maybe. You turn him off. It's good training for you.

She:  Mommy said her daddy used to tell her stories.

He:  That was before TV took over production. Now you can only get a decent story at a farmers' market or a genuine organic food store. I've grown one or two on my own without pesticides.

She:  Come on, Daddy.

He:  Let me think. There's the one about Gramps up in the clouds combing his white beard.

She:  And?

He:  Mr. George Senior knew Gramps from an oil deal and thought the old timer might be able to smarten up his witless son, Georgie.

She:  Georgie got bad marks in school?

He:  He tried to buy off his teacher like a traffic cop.

She:  Awful!

He:  Gramps said to send Georgie up and he'd see what he could do. Goofy Georgie got in the elevator and took a liking to clouds on the way.

She:  Georgie obeyed his father?

He:  No way. That was the one thing he never would do. And he wasn't so dumb not to see that Gramps was bent as a pretzel. Even that white beard was stuck on with glue.

She:  A pretzel!

He:  Yeah. He saw that Gramps wasn't on Mr. George Senior's side. The old fraud and Georgie-boy put together a big surprise for his anxious dad. When the prodigal son touched down home he sported a fine pair of wings and a halo. He'd changed his scenario.

She:  He wasn't stupid anymore?

He:  Oh, he was still stupid, but now he was good on top of it. Good'n stupid.

She:  Like an angel?

He:  Right, on the side of the angels, but with a kink in his tongue.

She:  That was his punishment.

He:  That could well be. A mispronounced scarlet letter to mark his misspent youth and allowance.

She:  Before he met the pretzel man and they straightened out.

He:  Exactly.

She:  So it's a happy ending?

He:  Not until everybody sings Dog Save America.

She:  Don't be silly, Daddy. That's not a quality time song. I don't feel like singing now.

He:  Should I turn the TV back on?

She:  Maybe, for a while. But not that terrible man trying to sell roses.


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
URL for this work: http://www.swans.com/library/art13/pbyrne47.html
Published September 24, 2007