Today’s question comes from Mary Lou Whitaker, age 7 1/2, of Croakie Township, MA. Mary Lou asks, “I overheard my Dad tell my uncle that anyone who would want to be President of the United States has to be “stark, raving mad”. Is that true?”
Mary Lou, it’s very likely that your father was upset about something he read or saw in the news and because he was angry and could not control his emotions, he told your uncle that only crazy people would want to become President of the United States. That said, he’s absolutely 100% correct. You’ve got a smart man there and next time you see him, please give your Dad a hug for me as long as you can figure out an appropriate way to explain why I’d want to hug him in the first place. Just tell him that I truly appreciate him for his mind. You know what? Just forget the hug. I’ll make a note to send him a gift card from Starbucks.
Now I realize that you are only 7 1/2 years old, Mary Lou, and it may be difficult for you to comprehend how only a man or woman who was “stark, raving mad’ as your father so eloquently put it, would want to be the leader of the greatest nation in the world, so let me try to explain it in a way that you would understand. Let’s pretend that you are thinking about becoming President of the Second Grade Class and I’ll ask you some questions so you can decide if that’s a job you’d really want to have.
Question 1. If you were to become President of the Second Grade, do you think you would mind if two months after getting elected your hair turned grey and started falling out in clumps, your face started getting all wrinkly and saggy and you looked so much older that whenever you went out to dinner with your parents, the waiter would turn his attention to you first and say, “Looks like somebody at this table could use a vodka martini.”
Question 2. Do you think it would be fun or not fun if in order to get elected President of the Second Grade you had to go around telling everybody that the other second grader running against you wouldn’t be an honest President because he once threw up after eating an entire container of paste in Kindergarten but lied and told everyone it was because he had the mumps?
Question 3. Would you mind if all your friends at lunch stopped sitting with you because they thought you didn’t try hard enough to get Eskimo Pies placed in the nutritional foods pyramid?
Question 4. Would it be fun or not fun to tell your teacher that you suspect that all the kids who no longer sit with you at lunch might have been cheating on tests and If you were her, you’d bring them all in after school and conduct an audit of the last 24 exams?
Question 5. It’s recess. Do you care that when you go out and play with the other kids they accuse you of always being “out on the swings” when you should be working on more critical matters such as getting lockers with one digit combinations because the whole three number, turn clockwise, then counter clockwise and then clockwise again but slightly past the last number and then back, is too confusing and burdensome?
Question 6. Let’s say you heard from every single student in the class that one digit lockers were really important and you convinced the teacher to make the change and she agreed to as long as the majority of the class voted in favor. And then you found out that a bunch of your classmates decided not to vote for the one digit lockers — not because they didn’t want them but because they didn’t want you to be President of the Second Grade in the first place and were still mad that the paste eating kid with the mumps didn’t win and so the one digit locker proposal didn’t pass.
If you knew that every time you tried to get something else accomplished that required a vote –and that it would never pass — do you think a sane person or a crazy person would keep trying over and over and over again until class let out in June?
Question 7. Would it be fun or not fun to meet with reporters from the school newspaper to speak about a bake sale fundraising event you’re working on so that the second grade class can go to an amusement park and you tell them, “I hope that we raise enough money so that the entire second grade class can go to the Devil Canyon Amusement park this April,” but the newspaper runs an article with the headline: “SECOND GRADE PRESIDENT SAYS”ENTIRE SECOND GRADE CLASS CAN GO TO THE DEVIL!”?
Question 8. Would it be fun or not fun to visit with other second grade presidents from around the world and have to remember everyone’s names and what their favorite foods were if they were eating over and which ones believed excessive radiator heat makes you sleepy after lunch and which ones didn’t and which ones said they were your friend but then tried to steal the blueprints from your book report diorama on “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie” while you were bending over to tie your shoe?
So, Mary Lou, after going through the eight questions and recording your answers, I’m assuming you now understand exactly what your father was saying to your uncle. It’s a thankless job and you’d have to be crazy to want it in the first place. However, if I’m mistaken and you do think being President would be exciting and fun, let me be the first to say best of luck to you in the Third Grade elections and please remember that I am always at your disposal and had I been in second grade, I would have undoubtedly backed you on the one digit locker combination initiative.
(In this day and age you got to be crazy not to hedge your bets. Who knows where this kid may end up?)
© 2013 The Monkey Bellhop and John Hartnett