Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Sean Spicer Fan Fiction: Chapter 2

(If you missed Chapter 1, be sure to read it first. Also, disclaimer: This is fiction.)

Among the Bushes

Things are About to Get Spicey

Chapter 2

Caroline’s mouth dropped open. This revelation about her gardener's identity did explain why he was wearing an ill fitting suit, but she had so many more questions. 

She had never been a fan of the president, but his spokesman was another story. Ever since the early days of the administration, Caroline had felt a certain affinity for Sean Spicer. In fact, she had found him inexplicably attractive, even though she normally didn't go for the angry, doughy type. And now he was standing here in her yard! Caroline decided to take advantage of the situation.

“You look really hot,” Caroline heard herself saying. Then she quickly added, “You're sweaty. I mean—it looks like you could use some shade.”

What was happening to her? She was not the type to get flustered around men. Who knew Sean Spicer could have that affect on someone? Caroline took a deep breath to help regain her composure. 

“Would you like to come inside to cool off for a few minutes? I have LaCroix,” she offered. 

“That would be phenomenal,” Sean said, wiping away some sweat and possibly another tear. 

Caroline led Sean into her house, unsure she was doing the right thing. Even if he was a former White House Communications Director, he was still a common gardener at the moment and she wasn't comfortable having the hired help inside her house. But then she glanced over her shoulder and saw his endearingly confused expression and her knees went wobbly. “Pull yourself together, Caroline!” she silently chided herself. 

“The bar is this way,” Caroline said, walking through the kitchen, into the hallway, then up a few steps to the open bar area above the living room.

“You have a beautiful house,” Sean said, looking around.

“I do okay for myself,” Caroline said coyly. 

“What do you do for a living?” he asked. 

“What flavor LaCroix would you like? Or I have other things, if you'd like something…harder.” Caroline raised her eyebrows. 

“No, LaCroix is good! No drinking on the job! Do you have lime?” he asked. 

“Of course,” Caroline sighed. She turned to her mini fridge, took out a can of lime LaCroix, and handed it to Sean, letting her hand linger a bit longer than she should have. 

“I like your fridge” he said, prying the can from her hand. Caroline made a mental note to keep an eye on her appliances. 

Sean opened the can and took a sip, then looked out the large picture window on the other side of the room. 

“That was my first attempt at an elephant” he said, nodding toward the window.

“Really? You'd never done that before? That’s amazing!” Caroline said. “My only concern is that the bushes are so much smaller now.”

“No, they're bigger,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“The bushes are bigger than they were before.”

“How can they be bigger when you've just trimmed them to make an elephant?”

“Trust me, they just are,” he said. “Period. They only look smaller because of the covering I put down to protect the grass.” 

Caroline narrowed her eyes. She felt like she had heard this argument before. She was about to press him on it, but then he loosened his tie a bit and she got weak-kneed again. 

“So, tell me, Sean,” she said, leaning onto the bar next to him, “Do you like working with...bushes?”

“Well, it’s better than working with Clintons!” Sean Spicer started laughing uncontrollably. 

Caroline sighed again and rolled her eyes. How could someone so cute be so dense? 

Just when she thought he would never take a hint, Sean calmed down, took another sip of LaCroix and asked, “Would you want to go to dinner sometime?”

Caroline blinked. Was Sean Spicer really asking her out on a date?

“I'd love to,” she said, “but I thought you're not allowed to have dinner with any women other than your wife.”

“No, that's Mike Pence,” he said. “People sometimes get us confused because we have the same neck and glare.”

“Oh, right.” Caroline did have trouble keeping track of the angry white men in the current administration. “But won't your wife be upset anyway?”

“I'm not married,” he said, swigging some more LaCroix.

“But I thought—”

“Just a story I made up and put in my official White House bio when Kellyanne Conway got too handsy.”

Caroline winced. 

“Exactly,” Sean said, noticing the horrified expression on her face. “Look, I need to go. I have to get the lawn equipment back by 5:00. But are we on for dinner? Tonight?”

Read Chapter 3 now!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Trip with Truman

Earlier this summer I read (and wrote about) Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure. That got me in the mood to go to the Truman Library and Museum, but I didn't think I'd be able to talk the family into it. But then Mr. Presidentressor expressed interest in going to see the eclipse, and I noticed that Independence, Missouri, was in the path of totality, and suddenly a weekend getaway was born.

If you want to see all things Harry Truman in Independence, it's important to know that his home (available for tour) is a separate entity from his presidential museum, so plan accordingly. We arrived at the Visitor Center for the home (a few blocks from the house itself) in the morning, which was a good plan because tour spots and times are limited and were going quickly. We snagged spots for the 2:30 tour, which gave us plenty of time to go to the museum beforehand.

The Visitor Center is small but it has a film and a few small exhibits (mostly about baseball). That's also where my kids got their Junior Ranger booklets. My 5-year-old is obsessive about filling out any kind of booklet/scavenger hunt/etc. he receives at museums, so that kept him busy for a good chunk of the day. My 8-year-old found the booklet for kids under 9 to be too basic, so she asked to upgrade to the book for 9-12-year-olds, which is also the one my 13-year-old did. (I saw an adult doing it, too, so I guess anyone can become a Junior Ranger. I wish I'd known that years ago.)

Once my kids filled out what they could at the Visitor Center, we drove over to the Harry Truman Library and Museum. There, the kids got scavenger hunt cards, and I realized--despite what I said in my previous Truman post--that I had never been to the Truman Museum before. Oops.

Mr. Presidentressor and I both thought the museum was great, and even the kids seemed to enjoy it. The first floor is primarily about Truman's presidency, and I felt they did a good job presenting balanced information about tough topics like the Korean War and the dropping of the atomic bombs. I especially liked the exhibit on atomic-related popular culture.

The first floor wraps around in chronological order, and when you get to the end, you're able to walk out to the courtyard where Harry, Bess, daughter Margaret, and son-in-law Clifton are buried.
After we paid our respects and were walking away, my 5-year-old shouted, "Farewell, old people!"

After hurrying the children back inside, we explored the lower level of the museum, which was less "Harry the Politician" and more "Harry the Human." There were exhibits about his pre- and post-presidency life, and many of the exhibits were interactive. My kids' favorite activity was making Harry Truman campaign buttons.

They could also write a letter to Truman. This is what my 5-year-old wrote before giving the letter a kiss and sticking it in the mail slot:

I ❤️ you. I miss you in your grave

Should I be worried?

The whole time, my 8-year-old was keeping an eye out for a paper crane folded by Sadako Sasaki, the Japanese girl who was stricken with leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. My daughter read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes a few months ago and is obsessed with it, and the only way I could entice her to go to the Truman Museum without complaining was by telling her they had a crane there. After searching in vain, we asked a kindly security guard, who told us exactly where to find it: Right next to the front doors. We went back upstairs, and there it was. We were both surprised by how tiny it was, but my daughter was very pleased to have found it.

The gift shop has a nice selection of Truman memorabilia and the requisite American flag-type stuff. I was tempted to get a plush "Pete," the squirrel who used to take walks with Harry, but instead I got this string-doll-keychain because it seemed weirder.

After the museum the kids were hangry, so we headed back toward the quaint old downtown area and wound up eating at a hotdog place called Up Dog. (Excellent tater tots!) When we were done eating, we drove over to the Truman home for our tour.

The ranger leading the tour was knowledgable and helped make it interesting for the kids. Due to structural concerns, only the first floor of the house is available to tour, so it doesn't take very long. However, the house is preserved just the way the Trumans left it, so what it lacks in accessibility, it makes up for in character. I absolutely loved the midcentury mint-green-and-red kitchen.

Courtesy: National Park Service

Later at the Visitor Center the ranger asked my daughter what she liked best about the house, and she said, "The wallpaper." In the photo above the walls look pink, but the wallpaper is a fabulously gaudy/busy red print, and it's on the ceiling as well as the walls. I want some.

Courtesy: National Park Service

High-five, Harry!
When we were done with the house, we checked out the very small museum/tour-holding-pen in a house across the street (protip: it has bathrooms!), then headed back to the little downtown area for ice cream at Clinton's Soda Fountain, in the building where Harry Truman had his first job in a drugstore. We had sundaes and the kids finished up their Junior Ranger booklets, which we then took back to the Visitor Center so they could get their badges.

The rest of our weekend consisted of non-Harry-Truman-related stuff, like visiting the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures, and heading to Columbia, Missouri, to see the total eclipse. The museum and the eclipse were phenomenal. I recommend both.

For a while there it looked like we might not see the eclipse due to weather and traffic concerns, but we decided that even without it, the trip would have been a success and a good way to end the summer. In the end, it all worked out. I guess you could say it wound up being an excellent adventure.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sean Spicer Fan Fiction: Chapter 1

Inspired by the Vladimir Putin and Justin Trudeau fan fiction over at Hottest Heads of State, I decided it was time to give the world what it really needs: Sean Spicer fanfic. I thought it might be a bit outside the scope of the Presidentress blog, but then I figured that Sean Spicer fits squarely in the category of presidential history, so why not? 

Since I'm dealing with the Trump administration here, I should probably include some sort of disclaimer, but a lawsuit would also drive a lot of traffic to the site, so I'll just remind everyone that this is fan fiction. (Also, I use the term "fan" loosely.) Check back for new chapters!

Among the Bushes

Things are About to Get Spicey

Chapter 1

Caroline sighed and took another sip of her pineapple LaCroix. A bead of condensation ran down the can and fell onto her bare thigh, causing her to shiver despite the sweltering heat. She set the can down and adjusted her wide-brimmed hat to block the sun from hitting her copy of The New York Times. 

She had just turned the page to continue reading the latest story about the president’s Russian collusion when the sound of the gardener’s hedge trimmers made her lose her concentration. Caroline sighed again. These new gardeners always seemed to arrive at the worst time, when she was trying to sunbathe and relax by the pool—or sunbathe and read by the pool, as it were, since there was nothing relaxing about Russian collusion. 

Caroline missed Raphael, her old gardener. He would always come when Caroline was at work or out shopping, and he never interrupted her solitude. Unfortunately Raphael had been detained in an ICE raid in April and had since been deported. Caroline had gone through a few other gardeners before finally settling on the company she had hired a few weeks ago: Garden Alternatives, Inc. The company was okay. The guy they sent seemed to be meticulous and always did a nice job, but Caroline felt like she was never alone anymore. 

She did her best to continue reading despite the whirring of the hedge trimmers, but something felt off. She took another sip of her LaCroix, which this time dripped onto the middle of a paragraph, obscuring the name of a Russian oligarch. Caroline folded the newspaper and threw it down in frustration. She glanced over at the gardener just in time to see him turn away from her. 

She picked up her phone and tried to catch up on her Facebook feed but the glare from the sun made it impossible. 

The hedge trimmers hummed to a halt, but the silence suddenly seemed too great. Caroline got an uneasy feeling again. Without turning her head, she slowly moved her gaze back to the gardener. Sure enough, two beady eyes were peering out at her from between the bushes. 

So that was it, she thought. The gardener had been creeping on her. Caroline made a mental note to call Garden Alternatives, Inc. first thing in the morning to request a different worker. She had no interest in serving as eye candy for a laborer, even if he was masterfully trimming her shrubs into the shape of an elephant. 

Caroline swung her legs over to the side of the lounge chair and sat up. She grabbed her wrinkled paper and her sweaty can and stood to go inside, away from the stalking gardener.

“Wait! Ma'am!” the gardener called. 

Ma'am? Caroline inwardly huffed. She was too young to be called ma'am. She turned to him anyway. 

“Yes?” she asked, peering over the top of her red sunglasses. The gardener strode over to her. 

“I just wanted to see if you'd like any other animal topiaries,” the man said, gesturing toward the elephant. 

A large fabric safari hat obscured most of the man’s face, but something about him—his meaty neck, his chinny jaw, his furrowed brow—felt strangely familiar. Caroline didn't understand why, but she suddenly felt calmer and more at ease. 

“Oh, the topiary,” she said, unexpectedly flustered. “Yes, I meant to thank you for it. It’s lovely.”

The gardener smiled, but not an ordinary smile. It looked like the smile of a man who hadn't been complimented in months. Caroline thought she saw him wipe away a tear.

“Are you okay?” she asked. 

The man gave a little chuckle. “Yes, I'm sorry,” he said. “It's just nice to have someone appreciate what I do. Things didn't go too well at my last job, so I'm trying something new.”

Caroline wondered what his last job had been. Pool boy? Butler? Ice cream truck driver? She shuddered to think what could have gone wrong.

“What was your old job?” she asked. 

“I was the White House Press Secretary,” the man said, almost as an apology.

Caroline was speechless. Surely this gardener was pulling her leg...her long, tanned leg.  But wait. That neck, those chins, those beady eyes… Could it be? 

“No!” Caroline gasped. 

“It's true,” he said. Slowly the man reached up to remove his hat and all doubt. Caroline’s new gardener was Sean Spicer.

Read Chapter 2 now!