The best (worst) thing about having Netflix instead of cable is that is forces me to watch decades-old t.v. Consequently, while the rest of you have been enjoying Big Bang Theory and The Voice (two shows I’m told I sorely need to watch), I’ve been squatting under my rock these last few weeks salivating over what I’ve decided is simply the best television drama ever written: The West Wing. And lest you think I’m merely impressed with the brilliant dialogue and Rizzo as the First Lady, let me assure you that my fascination spills broadly over such superficialities. You see, my faithfuls, after watching the entire first season, I’ve had an extended, expansive epiphany: I’ve decided that I belong in the the West Wing. Or at least on The West Wing. (Is there a difference?) And as though choreographed by Fate herself, my introduction to this (psuedo)political (psuedo)education just happens to coincide with my first trip ever to our nation’s beloved capital, Washington D.C. (Washington D.C.! The home of President Josiah Bartlett!)
I’ll be there next week with my daughter, and I can only surmise that this month’s virtual rendezvous with President Bartlett was simply providential preparation for my literal rendezvous with destiny. And even though the White House tours are closed, I’m pretty sure that, if I can just get a moment alone with Traveler and show him my smarts and cunning, he’ll invite my into the Oval Office and witness for himself all the style and sass I have to offer. Among the many Ivy League intellectuals and military geniuses roaming those hallowed halls, surely there’s a place for a middle-aged English major from Eastern Washington. I mean, is this an egalitarian society or what?
Now you may be wondering why, besides my looks, I believe I belong in the West Wing/on The West Wing. Well see, I’ve always been a big fan of pretending to be smarter than I am. I’m also a big fan of talking a lot, talking over other people (I dare you to interrupt me!), and talking at lightning speed as I pace briskly down long hallways. Granted, I don’t own any hallways long enough to really Pace Down Briskly, so unlike President Bartlett, I have to make do outside Residence. I’ve found ample space for Pacing Briskly in the Columbia Center Mall, although the venue is a bit wide for my dazzling wit to bounce clearly off its walls. There are also the walkways inside the TRAC of Pasco, although the Home and Garden Show they run every spring gets a bit noisy during peak hours, sometimes drowning out my brilliant political discourse. So you can guess, my friends (constituents?) which single hallway is long, grand and glorious enough to house the intellect and authority that oozes quite naturally from my West Wing/West Wing destined lips: yep, the hallway at the church. It’s long, it’s painted, and it has countless people milling through it every Sunday. Most of these people are are shorter, younger, and less educated than myself, which works nicely when I’m striving to sound smug and superior. (This shorter, younger, less educated crowd is known as children in some socioeconomic classes, but for the sake of this piece, work with me.) I don’t know if anyone at church has noticed, but lately I’ve been using the building’s hallway to practice for what will soon (next week!) be my inevitable stint in/on/ the West Wing/The West Wing. And I have to say, rehearsals are going pretty well.
Last week, for example, I entered the church hallway dressed for the part: pencil skirt from Target, iPhone conspicuously in hand, Reading Glasses That Make Me Look Smart fixed firmly on my face. I sauntered confidently through the walkway, picking up two and three and then four Shorter, Younger, Less Educated people as I went, slipping Cadbury Mini Eggs in their upturned palms if they agreed to walk slightly behind me and look up in wonder as I spoke. The bribes were quickly accepted, and before I could yell “Donna!” I had an impressive entourage of admirers hanging on my every word as I boldly flung instruction in all directions, letting my wisdom settle on whomever was apt enough to receive it. I didn’t want to overwhelm the crowd with too much political lingo–it might confuse them, since they are probably not at the end of Season One yet, like me–so instead I stuck to the subjects under my stewardship. Breezing past the first door on my left, I called out with a concerted irritation, “I need to see those Scout Camp registration forms before third hour…” (I didn’t wait around for a response; in The Hallway, people come to me.) With adoring entourage in tow, I then sauntered past the door on my right, yelling out “More paper in the library copier, pahleez…” as I looked down over my shoulder and shook my head at my followers. “Admin staff…” I muttered, “what can you do?” I received no response to this statement, just upturned hands for more mini-eggs.
Finally, on rounding the corner by the kitchen, I stopped, knocked cockily on the open door, and jauntily said to the woman pulling a tray out of the oven, “They told me a Harvard education would get me a job, but they didn’t say anything about muffins.” (See, they’re always listing their degrees on The West Wing, so I have to get over my usual girlish modesty about my academic achievements. Harvard…BYU…potayto, potahto.) I then grabbed a muffin off the counter and popped in my mouth before she could protest, yelling, “Thank you, ma’m!” in a full-mouthed garble as I swung merrily down the hall with my peeps, stopping only to high-five the occasional approaching admirer (i.e., some Younger-Shorter-Less Educateds had heard about the free candy.)
I was in The Zone now. I was cruisin’. We sailed by the library and, without so much as looking at who I was talking to (a gesture that’s big on The West Wing), I blandly yelled out, “Copy paper is coming–you’re welcome!” Clucks of admiration trailed behind me as I made my way blithely down the hall. No matter–I was too busy for chitchat. Like Sam and Josh and C.J., I always had Somewhere Important to go. I then felt a small, sticky palm smear chocolate across my Target pencil skirt, and I suddenly remembered my entourage. I glanced back across the hall and saw that most of the adult crowd had dispersed, thus reducing my need for the hastily assembled Throng of Admirers. I decided to release them from their Cadbury Contract and deliver them back to the Primary room, but I was going to do it in style. I stopped mid-hallway and planted one hand firmly on my thrust-out hip, making eye contact with the YSLEs for the first time (on The West Wing, eye contact is discouraged when addressing inferiors.)
“All right, people, time for class.”
“What? No!” Their shouts of dismay toppled over each other.
“We want more candy!”
“You promised us more candy!“
“Lady, you stink!” I nodded my head and smiled tersely, which is all a political operative can do when assaulted with an opponent’s Free Speech. (I’m pretty sure the Free Speecher was, in this case, my eight-year old son.)
“I’m sorry for your disappointment,” I said, in my coolest-Mandy-manner, “but there is simply no merit to your argument. Now go.” They grumbled and growled as they trudged past me toward the classroom door, and I swear I felt a chocolately palm swipe across my skirt on purpose.
I gathered my things and headed for my minivan, so pleased with my Dress Rehearsal that I decided to skip the rest of church and go back to Residence for my sweatpants, slippers and the remainder of the mini-eggs. The Brisk Hallway Pacing may have ended on a flat note, but don’t you worry, President Bartlett. I’m ready. I’m coming, and I’m ready. Are you?
(If not, may I suggest you watch a few episodes of Parks and Recreation? It may aquaint you with what I’ve got going on over here.)
(Plus, my husband says I remind him of the lead female character. Nice.)