GEORGE W. BUSH: Senator Kerry, this is President Bush.
JOHN KERRY: Good evening, Mr. President.
GWB: It certainly has been a good evening for you (chuckles). Congratulations on winning the nomination against a very tough field. Iím looking forward to a spirited race.
JK: As am I. I hope we have a great debate about the issues facing our nation, Mr. President.
GWB: Please, call me George. I hope I can call you John in return.
JK: Sure. Well, thanks for the call. I appreciate the gesture.
GWB: My pleasure, John. So, what are you doing tonight to celebrate?
JK: I have two or three more interviews with the cable news networks, but then I figure Iíll call it an evening, get into bed with a paperback, something like that.
GWB: I hope itís not a Vintage collection of Raymond Carver short stories.
JK: Why do you say that?
GWB: I donít know, Iíve always felt that the paper they use for those Vintage paperbacks has a strange texture. Really rough, almost like holding sandpaper. Especially, for some strange reason, their Carver editions. I have to use dry skin lotion after finishing each story.
JK (cheery): Thatís funny, Iíve noticed the same thing. It almost ruined Carver for me altogether.
GWB: Thereís one issue we agree on, I guess. Except Iíd say that nothing Ė not even shoddy paper Ė could ruin Ray, but thatís just me, you understand. Still, I have to think that if the two of us noticed this, then there must be plenty of others who donít like the feel of the paper, too. Iím sure theyíve gotten complaints over at Vintage.
JK: Itís probably the least expensive paper.
GWB (serious): You shouldnít skimp on certain things, though. Itís disrespectful to the author and the readers.
JK: I guess youíre right. You know what Ė Iíll probably just watch ESPN tonight.
GWB: Sounds good, John. I should probably let you do those interviews. Once I start complaining about Vintage paperbacks, I canít stop rambling on and on and on.
JK: Thanks again for calling.
GWB: It was nice talking to you.
JK: Same here.
GWB: And again, good luck with the campaign, but not too much good luck, right?
JK: Exactly. Let's try to keep this whole thing as dignified as we can.
GWB: Sure. (pause) Hey, John?
GWB: John, you know those Signet Classics?
JK (sighs): I thought we finished that conversation.
GWB: Yeah, yeah, I know. We did, but I just thought about the Signet Classics. I hate the way those feel, too. I mean, not as bad as Vintage's Carver stories, but about a year ago, Laura and I were on vacation, and I felt like re-reading Moby Dick because we were on a cruise (chuckles), so I brought the Signet Classics version, and I never felt comfortable holding the book.
JK (sighs again): Iím sorry to hear that.
GWB: What? What is it, John?
JK: Nothing, George. You're right, they're horrible editions.
GWB: You sound angry, John.
JK: Well, it's just that we could go on about this for hours Ė Penguin's trade paperbacks, the Everymanís Library, those chick lit books Teresa likes. They donít make books the way they used to. Itís unfortunate, itís a shame, I agree with you, but I have campaigning to do.
GWB: Yeah, yeah, I know. So do I, apparently (chuckles heartily). It's just that . . .
JK: What, George?
GWB: It's just that the whole danged cruise was ruined by that Signet edition of Moby Dick. I mean, I couldn't read ten pages without going to the bathroom to wash my hands. It was a terrible experience. A tragedy really. I don't know how I got through that cruise, but somehow I did.
JK: You're a real trooper, George. Maybe you should put that cruise anecdote in one of your campaign ads.
GWB: Good one, John.
JK: Okay, I really have to go now. Iím keeping CNN waiting.
GWB: Donít want to do that. Good luck on the trail,
JK: Will do.
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