The slog

The slog

I took a tour of the White House with my parents when I was five. My mom kept pestering me to stop dragging my feet. I lacked inspiration to move quickly back then. I was plagued with the thought of what’s the point? Everyone was bigger than me, they were always telling me what to do. Whenever I said what I wanted, it was met with a swift, “No.” So I did what I could, which was to be sluggish.

At one point President Nixon came out of a room. He stopped to talk with us. He seemed like he was trying to be friendly. He smelled like cologne. Men back then wore cologne. It was a way to display a musky odor. The smeller had no choice but to give up their attention to the wearer. We were nasely captivated to the Man. My eyes watered.

Nixon said, “What’s the matter, little boy?”

My Mom gave me a “you better not” glance.

I said that I had seasonal allergies.

Nixon got down on his knee to me and said, “When I was a young lad growing up in Yorba Linda, California, I was responsible for the grooming and feeding of our pet raccoons: Pouser, Malcom, Samuel, Mister Jurgsen, and Ricardo. I was horribly allergic to the pelt of the raccoon, and suffered with great bouts of sneezing and wheezing. A confluence of tears from each eye gathered in a swell that thrice nearly drowned me. I would appeal to my folks to allow me to take on any other chores at our farmhouse and its outbuildings, but was chided and forced to return to the preening.”

Nixon looked away and was silent. He sighed, reached into his suit jacket and pulled out a handkerchief. He handed it to me.

I took the handkerchief. It reeked of cologne. My eyes stung. I thought I might go blind.

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