Hey lady, you lady
cursing at your life
you’re a discontented mother
and a regimented wife
I have no doubt
you dream about the things you never do
but I wish someone had a talk to me like I wanna talk to you
– "I’ve Never Been To Me"
I’m worried about Laura Bush.
I know that I should be worried about the price of gas or food shortages or whether Barack Obama’s lifeless body will be found in Fort Marcy Park because his security team (made up of former members of the Weather Underground, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and Color Me Badd) were unable to stop a determined team of Clintoninjas with orders to terminate Obama with extreme prejudice… but not the bad kind of "prejudice" because that would be wrong.
No. I sit up at nights and worry about what the future holds for Laura Bush 270 days 7 hours 16 minutes and 14.3 seconds from now. Okay… 270 days 7 hours 15 minutes and 49.8 seconds from now.
By now you should already know the Cinderella story of Laura Welch; a small town librarian who meets the dashing scion (still on the rebound from a previous engagement) of a well-to-do Yankee family at a Texas barbecue and, just a mere three months later (or one half of a Friedman Unit), they get married. So far, so good. It was at about this time that her future father-in-law was gearing up to run for President and Laura saw the writing on the wall and made her groom-in-waiting promise that she would never have to speak in public; something for which her five years as a public school teacher had left her ill-equipped.
Immediately after the marriage she quit her job, took a few extra classes at the university, and generally sat around smoking and reading and waiting for Mr. Big Shot Oilman to "put food" on his family. Alas, that was not to be.
Then came the Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) period, and the less said about those days the better.
Okay. One quick story, then it’s off to bed with you:
In 1986, George W. Bush encountered reporter Al Hunt, his wife, Judy Woodruff, and their four-year-old son at a Dallas restaurant. Apparently upset over a Washingtonian poll in which Hunt predicted Bush’s father would not win the 1988 GOP nomination, the younger Bush said to Hunt, “You fucking son of a bitch. I saw what you wrote. We’re not going to forget this.” Hunt has said Bush was drunk. Bush later apologized.
One day God, in the role of Billy Graham, spoke to him and "Bushie" (as he was affectionately known once "Captain Cuervo" lost it’s zing) decided to cut out the Bushmills, get serious about life, and "boom!" the next thing you know it’s baseball teams and running for Governor. In 1995 Laura "released" George from the "no speeches" promise but, unfortunately, was unable to negotiate a promise that he wouldn’t make any. It being Texas, he became Governor anyway.
After that, life was some kind of nice for Laura. The Governors mansion in Austin, plenty of help around the house, ice bucket always full. Pretty sweet, even for Cinderella. Anticipating a run for the Presidency, the Bush’s bought and developed a former pig farm in Crawford and named it Prairie Chapel Ranch (Rancho Borracho was already taken) because it lent George that air of western authenticity that Beltway journalists find not only fascinating but highly erotic.
Later came the Presidency (it was in all of the papers) and suddenly that bookish small town girl was the First Lady traveling the world meeting Popes (okay, a dead one, but that’s still closer than you’ve ever been), world leaders, and people who want to kill us. She has been dined, feted, admired, and dressed in the finest upholstery fabrics this side of Ethan Allen. If she wants pork chops at four in the morning, somebody at the White House is standing by to make her pork chops at four in the morning. With fresh apple sauce, I might add.
But, like The Sopranos, all good things must come to an end, and not necessarily with a blackout.
In 270 days 7 hours 9 minutes and 22.8 seconds (depending on your reading speed and how often you’ve been check your email) Laura Bush will be faced with a return to Prairie Chapel Ranch and it won’t be for just another one month vacation. Barring a move to Highland Park or Paraguay, Crawford it will be. No more pork chops at four in the morning, no more emptying out the mini-bar on Air Force One, no more designer pant suits with jacket buttons the size of coasters. It all goes away. Sure , she’ll still have Secret Service protection around the clock and those guys can always run down to the EZ-Food Mart and pick up a carton of Newports and a Redbook for her, but it won’t be the same. There will be the occasional day trips to Arlington to see the Rangers fade in the August heat, but no Presidential helicopter is going to be sitting around just waiting for the order to go pick up a pecan log roll at Stuckey’s.
Soon the days will start to run into one another. The newly married Jenna will call once in awhile to complain that Henry never picks up his socks and that he still wants her to do "that icky thing" in bed and Laura will remind her, once again, that she warned her before the wedding not to "make the same mistake I did" by marrying a rich fratboy who gets by on his connections. The other daughter, whatshername, NotJenna will call too, but Laura will have trouble placing her face and the conversations will be decidedly awkward and mercifully brief.
And every day Laura will wander through the house reaching out and touching the mementos that she brought with her from her previous life in the limelight: ( a program from the 2005 White House Correspondents dinner, the ashtrays from Camp David, the gift menorah from Jack Abramoff, the leather-bound set of Danielle Steele first editions with all of the lesbian scenes highlighted by Lynne Cheney) until she finds herself standing at the window cradling a Harvey Wallbanger and staring out at the bleak Texas landscape and reminiscing until her reverie is broken when George returns from his weed chopping with with a scuffling of boots on the backporch, the sound of the screen door being kicked open, and a cry of "Hey Lump! Where’s mah cheeseburger?"
The horror. The horror…