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Saturday, May 19, 2012
The Cutting Room Floor- %^&% that didn't make into Mayageddon 2012
Mary Ellen Martin stood, jet lagged at the baggage claim area of the Little Rock National Airport, with three peach and tan suitcases stacked on a cart next to her. The flight from Washington, D.C. to Little Rock had taken almost eight hours, which included a three-hour layover in Charlotte, North Carolina. She was somewhat irritable as she waited for her mother to arrive from Martinville to drive her back to the family home. Mary Ellen’s hectic summer White House internship ended a day earlier and she only had a week and a half before she began her sophomore year at the University of the Ozarks.
The Martin family was the most powerful family in Arkansas, having created the largest retail discount store chain in the world. They were also strong financial supporters and good friends of the former Arkansas governor and current President of the United States Bobby Roderick and First Lady Dolly Roderick. In fact, Dolly had served on M-Mart’s board of directors from 1986 to 1992. She only left because she was advised the connection could have negative repercussions on Bobby’s presidential campaign. Mary Ellen’s father, Jonah, and mother, Kristi, used their friendship with the Roderick’s to secure her a White House internship for the summer.
My family is richer than God. A city is named after us, but I have to take a goddamn commercial flight with a layover, no less. Shouldn’t they be sending a chartered jet for me? What kind of bullshit honor is there in treating me like your average Joe six-pack? Mary Ellen thought bitterly.
But she wasn’t surprised. Her grandpa drove a 12-year-old Ford pickup until the day he died, for Christ sake, and he was the richest man in the world. She shrugged and considered herself lucky she had talked her mother into letting her get a seat in first class. “Ah, come on, Ma. Just this once. Doesn’t your little girl deserve a little class? Pleeeeease…?”
Now she was stuck here waiting. She looked over at the airport’s small bar, wondering if she could get the bartender to serve her a drink even though she was only nineteen. He was a pot-bellied, balding man in his early fifties, she guessed. She knew she could charm the old fart, but thought better of the idea. She didn’t want her prim and proper mother to know she learned how to party from sorority gatherings in college as well as D. C. fundraisers. As she turned back to the airport’s sliding glass doors, she saw her mother, just a few feet away, walking towards her.
Kristi stepped closer and drew her daughter in for deep hug. “I’m sorry I’m late, punkin. I didn’t think the airport parking lot would be so full. I had to park what must have been at least a mile away and wait for the shuttle.”
Mary Ellen sunk into her mother’s arms and her irritation melted away. “That’s alright, Ma.”
Thirty minutes later, they were in Kristi’s medium slate gray 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood Sixty Special, heading northwest on I-40 toward Martinville.
“So what’s the White House really like?” Kristi asked. “Your father and I have been invited to the White House a couple of times for dinners and even spent the night in the Lincoln Bedroom once.” She cringed slightly at the thought of the outrageous donation she and Jonah gave the Rodericks to secure that evening at the White House, but it had been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Turning from gazing at the scenery to her mother, Mary Ellen’s face lit up. “Well, it’s really pretty interesting. Dolly, uh Ms. Roderick, has a very busy schedule, you know. She does lots of fundraising and PR work, meeting with a lot of people from many charities. She is also heading up a committee to do healthcare reform.”
“I’ve heard about that. The papers are calling it Dolly’s Folly.”
Mary Ellen winced. “Yeah, she really hates that. The Republicans call it that just to upset her. I remember one time Francine, another White House intern, called it Dolly’s Folly in front of her. I was standing right there and she just about ripped Francine’s head off. Dolly’s, uh Ms. Roderick’s, cussing could make a sailor blush. I never saw Francine again. She was sent packing.”
“I’ve heard about her temper. Does she really call Bobby names like Jew Boy and F’ing Jew Bastard?” Kristi asked, blushing at her blasphemous language.
Mary Ellen giggled. “She tries to hide that from the public, but I was around a few times when she let it fly. He is really scared of her. It’s kind of funny, really. She is so much shorter than him but she can really lay into him. She stands toe-to-toe and waves her pointy finger at him like a rolled up newspaper. He just stands there flinching like a dog caught digging in the trashcan or something.”
“I’ve never seen that side of her.”
“I’ve spent a lot of time with her over the summer.” Mary Ellen’s tone grew serious. “We became really close. She has a lot of reasons to be mad at him. He cheats on her all of the time. She’s stood by him all of these years, even when he was voted out as Arkansas governor. But he keeps embarrassing her with his cheating.
“All of the female interns get groped and propositioned by him,” Mary Ellen continued, a look of disgust overcoming her countenance. “He’s even done it to me. Yuck, he’s like thirty years older than me. We all knew he was doing it with Francine, and probably Joanne too.”
“He came on to you?” Kristi questioned.
“Well, sort of. He flirted with me, but he’s not my type.”
Kristi’s face softened, turning wistful, or was it lustful? Mary Ellen couldn’t discern. “Oh, punkin, that’s nothing. Bobby flirts with everyone. He’s even flirted with me. That’s just the way he is. That’s why the public loves him so much. He’s very charismatic.”
“Yeah, whatever, I guess. Men can be such jerks.” Mary Ellen thought back to the time in seventh grade when two boys, Tim and Frank, who sat next to her in arts and crafts class, made fun of her small breasts, calling them “bee stings” and saying she was part of the “itty bitty titty committee.” Then there was the time in ninth grade when Walt invited her to the Martinville High School Valentine’s Day dance and gave her her first real kiss. Then the next day she saw him flirting with that bitch Kendra. Walt had crushed her heart that day and she hadn’t dated since.
“Speaking of men, did you meet anyone in D.C.? Any nice male interns?” Kristi asked encouragingly. She maintained the fairytale dream of marriage for Mary Ellen and grandchildren for herself.
Great, here we go again. Her mother always tried to set her up. “Not really. I suppose Johnny was nice enough. He’s an intern, but he’s from Alaska and wants to work on the Alaska pipeline like his father. Would you like me to marry him and move to Alaska?”
The inner debate between having grandkids and seeing her only daughter once or twice a year flashed through Kristi’s mind. “I guess not, I suppose. Any other nice boys in D.C.?”
“Pat was nice too. I met him at a White House party I was invited to. He’s 34 and from Ventura, CA. He’s also been married three times…”
Kristi cut in, “I see. So what kind of shopping do we need to do before school begins again? Clothes? Shoes? Maybe a new coat? That would be nice, wouldn’t it, punkin?”
Mary Ellen looked back out to the passing scenery, grinning to herself. She knew her mother wouldn’t bug her about boys for the rest of her vacation; she might as well get something for the annoyance.