Tuesday, January 16, 2018

My Dinner with Trump

My Dinner with Trump 

By David Hartley Mark 

SWEEPSTAKES PRIZE: DINNER WITH TRUMP 

Now's the chance for you and a friend to win a private dinner to celebrate President Trump's first year in office.  
The president's 2020 campaign is holding a sweepstakes, and the prize is a private dinner with Trump in Palm Beach to mark the one-year anniversary of Trump's inauguration.... 
Whie Trump's campaign sent out emails asking for invitations—even a dollar—related to the sweepstakes, the fine print indicates no purchase is ready to enter. 

--From the S. Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/16/18 

I habitually recycle my junk mail, but was surprised the other day to find an envelope bearing the president's unmistakable grin and visor of carrot-colored hair, along with the logo in large neon-colored type, "YOU ARE THE WINNER! BE PREPARED FOR DINNER WITH YOUR PRESIDENT!" The letter gave a special number to call "for Secret Service Security Clearance," and also the exact address of Mar-a-Lago. It also assured me not to worry; Marine Three would land in my neighborhoodI wondered where, but, luckily, my neighbor has a corner lot and votes Republican, going back to Dewey. 

I dialed the number, and a deep voice with a Midwestern accent greeted me. The Secret Service agent seemed to know a great deal about me, including my straight-Democrat voting record, my various residences over the years, my preference in wines ("We prefer that the president dine only with someone who favors American wines—only, not California"), and the petition I signed back in high school asking then-President Johnson to get the hell out of Vietnam ("That will not be a problem, though I myself question your loyalty to the Country."). 

On the chosen day, Marine Three (which normally carries Don Jr. And Eric) landed in George's lot, to the accompaniment of several neighbor children, who waved small flags and cheered. Their parents stayed conspicuously indoors. I mounted its steel steps, after being saluted by a sergeant and a Lance Corporal. My wife was out of town, so I brought Kirby, my Shih Tzu, as my dinner partner. I thoughtfully tied a red-white-and-blue scarf around his neck, along with an old VOTE HILLARY—THERE'S NO ONE ELSE Button. I felt it would be safer if he, as a four-pawed American, expressed our mutual political views. 

The trip to Mar-a-Lago was quick—there are advantages to living in Florida. As we landed, raising a great deal of dust from one of the golf course's sand traps, I noticed the large number of protesters against the president, kept safely behind police barricades across the highway, and guarded by a cordon of bored-looking State Troopers. I recalled a Washington Post article (3/17/17) which declared that each and every Trump-trip to the Southern White House costs taxpayers $3 million and that, if he stayed in the (relatively shabby) Executive Mansion just a couple of weekends, he could restore all the social services programs he was hoping to eliminate. 

That sum was far from my head as Kirby and I walked into the lobby of Trump's Southern Shangri-La. The fittings were, even to a décor-blind Philistine like me, exquisite; entire surfaces appeared to be gold-plated. Kirby thoughtfully lifted his leg and peed on what appeared to be a Ming Dynasty umbrella stand, coated with enough gold to make Midas envious. 

I had no time to linger in the lobby, however; Stephen Miller, who would happily immolate himself for the president, came rushing forward. 

"Rabbi Mark," he gasped, "welcome to Mar-a-lago!" 

"Thank you, Stephen," I answered, "will you be dining with us? I'm sure yu have a great deal to say about changing American Democracy to good, old-fashioned Fascism." 

Miller smiled; I doubt whether he heard me. 

"That's the same idea I heard on CNN the other night," he lied, a facile grin on his skull-like face, "That's the thing with Fake News. They can't even come up with a good plan for Fascism themselves; they have to steal mine." 

I could see that, in Stephen Bannon's absence, Miller was striving mightily to be a Deep Stater and a Fascist, all at once. I yearned to be out of his company. 

"Where will the president and I be breaking bread?" I asked, "Is there a private dining room he customarily occupies?" 

"No, the president is a Man of the People," said Miller, "so he prefers to take his dinner right in the main dining room, where he can greet his worshipers—I mean, fans and supporters." 

I began to wonder about the security situation: should the Leader of the Free World, even one so free-wheeling and reckless as Trump, be discussing state secrets in the midst of ordinary citizens, albeit extremely wealthy ones? Nonetheless, I allowed myself to be led into the Main Dining Room, where American flags, red-white-and-blue balloons, and even pinatas in the shapes of Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper dangled from the ceiling. 

"Later on this evening," said Miller, "I hope that you've got a good swinging arm. We'll be crushing those two pinatas!" 

"What are they stuffed with?" I asked my over-eager host, "Candy?" 

"That would have been a good idea," said Miller, "but we went with pro-Trump ballots, already printed out in English and Russian, and all ready for the 2020 voting." 

I shook my head, and then spotted a familiar, rotund, black-suited figure. 

"It's the president!" Breathed Miller, and nearly knelt on the floor before him. Kirby and I looked at each other. I warned him not to pee anywhere in the vicinity. 

The president saw me, and looked puzzled. 

"Are you Little Rocket Man?" He asked. 

"No, Mr. President," Miller hurried to say, "this is the man who won your sweepstakes." 

"Sweepstakes?" Asked the president. He looked distant, and disconnected, somehow. An aide bent down and immediately gave him a glass of Diet Coke. The Chief Executive of the United States drank off the entire glass with a gulp, muttering, "This Coke must be number seventeen of the day." The soda had some odd effect on the president's affect, however, because he looked at me and brightened. "You look Jewish," he said, "Are you one of my lawyers?" 

"No, no, Mr. President," said Miller, "this is Rabbi David Mark. He's come a long way to have dinner with you." 

"Dinner?" Asked the president, and then repeated, with a wide smile, "Yeah—dinner!" 

"What will you be having, Mr. President?" Asked the waiter who stood on the president's right. 

"Oh, the usual," said Trump, "Two Big Macs, two Filet o' Fish, two large fries, a Coke (a big one, of course), and a vanilla shake." 

"And you, Sir?" Smiled the waiter, "the same?" 

"God, no," I answered, "Just bring me a salad with hard-boiled egg, with some wheat toast, no butter." 

"Excellent!" Said the waiter, and he and the small army of servants scurried off. Miller remained, hovering. 

"Well, that Border Wall seems to be a conundrum," I said, striving mightily to make conversation with the president, whose attention was drawn by a young woman in a low-cut dress. 

"I could get into some of that," said the president, leering and grinning like a hungry shark." 

"The Wall?" I asked. 

"What wall?" He said. 

"The Mexican Wall," I said, anxious to get the president's eyes off his prey. 

"Right!" He said, "The Mexicans will pay for that wall, you bet. It will be amazing. You know that I know how to build, Little Rocket Man." 

I let that one go. "And the government? How are we going to keep the government running, Mr. President?" 

"By deporting the DACA people. Oh, yes, and the Muslims." He said, without hardly a blink. He gulped down more Diet Coke. 

"Sorry? I don't see the connection," I said. 

"I do," he said, "and that's all that matters. I graduated from many, many fine schools, and I have a great, great brain. The Wall will be amazing! We'll get rid of all those people who are stealing American jobs. We'll dig for coal, good American coal. Oh, and I will restore the infrastructure...." 

More Diet Coke. I could hear Kirby snuffling around under the table, and remembered that he had only gone once since we had disembarked from Marine Three. I believed, from the noises he was making, that he was sniffing pretty close to the $17,000 trousers of the Leader of the Free World. However, I said nothing, nor did I pull at his leash. 

"Just don't be shooting any nukes at us, Little Rocket Man," said the president, belching woozily at me through a cloud of Diet Coke gases. 

I heard the sound of kitchen doors flapping back-and-forth, and, from a distance, could see a line of waiters bringing the president's dinner. I was glad. 

It was going to be a long evening.