"I don't think he's getting the job done," says Frank Weathers.
"Wal-terr gets a lot of complaints." says McNulty.
"No," says Wal-terr, "he's talking about the President."
"Customers only complain when Wal-terr takes change from their pile," says Joe T.
"He hasn't created any new jobs," says Frank.
"Honest mistakes," says Wal-terr.
"Maybe there's nothing he can do," says McNulty. "How can you complain, Frank, when the insurance industry, your bread and butter, put the country in a financial hole?"
"Joe's mortgage company did much more than the insurance companies," retorts Frank. "Joe was handing out mortgages like they were candy."
"I didn't approve that many bad loans," Joe T. defends himself. "Besides, the President in the State of the Union said that we'd be over the recession by now."
The Sardine walks into the bar and everyone shuts up and looks away. He wonders why the crew is acting curiously.
"Nothing, Sard," says Wal-terr, "just talking politics. The economy. Nothing you'd be interested in."
"You never talk about politics," says Frank.
What about the League of Non-Voters?
"We were talking specifics," says Wal-terr. "We want the President to make some changes to help us get out of the recession."
"The Sardine knows he can't change anything," says McNulty.
"You know him like he was your own kid," says Frank.
Knock it off, Frank! How long do we have to hear "McNulty is my father" jokes?
"I can't get over it. I wouldn't mind meeting the Man who would be Frank Weathers."
"Don't you have a column to finish?" Joe T. asks.
The Sardine wanted to be sure about something from the previous column. About Frank not getting puns.
Frank is silent.
What about it, Frank?
"I just don't like them. They irritate me. I don't want to think about words when I say or hear something."
"Self-consciousness gives him vertigo," says McNulty.
Exactly. How often we will reject something, change our course of action, make a fateful choice, all because we can't deal with a particular reality or, at least, the reality that makes us slightly uncomfortable.
"That won't exactly cause the walls of Psychology to come tumbling down," laughs McNulty.
"Joe doesn't like certain women," says Wal-terr, "because they won't fall for his lame pick-up lines. Then he tells us they're not good looking enough for him."
"I'm married," says Joe T. "I don't look at other women."
"Even though you haven't consummated your marriage yet."
"Who told you that?"
"He's putting you on, Joe," says Frank.
"He better be."
"Joe doesn't sound so sure," says Wal-terr.
In any case, the Sardine overheard mention of the State of the Union. Did you know that the President didn't always address Congress at the beginning of the year?"
"They've always done it," says Frank. "Washington made his Farewell Address to them."
"That wasn't the State of the Union, Frank," says McNulty.
"Almost the same."
"Washington didn't even deliver it to Congress. It appeared in print."
"Frank doesn't like know-it-alls, either," says Wal-terr.
Nevertheless, McNulty's correct. The first administrations, Washington and Adams addressed Congress. So did Jefferson, his first year, in 1801. Then he stopped the practice, claiming that it was too similar to the English monarch addressing Parliament.
"Jefferson was a man of strong principles," says McNulty.
Who would accuse him of having other motives?
"No pain in the ass fish brain is going to say otherwise unless he wants his clock cleaned."
"I can't believe you two would start a brawl," says Wal-terr, "over something this stupid."
"Jefferson's honor must be defended against natural born cynics."
It's well known that Jefferson was a poor public speaker.
"Yes," replies McNulty, fist clenched. "So?"
He is also reported to have had a squeaky voice.
"He despised all aspects of monarchy."
Who would contest that? But don't you think, just for a moment, that Jefferson was avoiding public ridicule and appearing outlandish. Not that the squeaky voice was the only reason. But why should his Presidency appear weak because of that physical weakness.
"How can I respect him now? Wal-terr, another Grand Mariner."
"Looks like I won't be getting out of here before one o'clock," despairs Wal-terr.
A telegram arrives for Frank.
Maybe Jefferson ought to have been the Squeaker of the House instead of President.
the Sardine's Pun Pal.
Bob Castle is the unveiled author of A Sardine on Vacation. Check out his bio page.