Summer Olympics For the Rest of US

imagesby Karen Topakian

If the International Olympic Committee wanted to represent most Americans, they would include these real-life Olympic competitions.

Free-Style Burning

Fair skinned “athletes” lathered in baby oil spend a hot, humid day at the beach. Waving off “scientific” concerns about skin cancer, they avoid shade or sunscreen. The first athlete to break out in blisters wins the gold.

Vapid Reading

Armed with a strong Tom Collins, a player digs into the works of James Patterson, Danielle Steel and Jackie Collins. First player to find one sentence that would pass muster in a high school English class may quickly dive into the New Yorker.

Deep Napping

Laid out on a chaise lounge, hammock or lawn chair determined nappers settle in despite barking dogs, circling helicopters surveying a fast moving fire and children pleading for ice cream. Last one to bolt upright and scream, “Shut the F&%$ up!” wins.

Miniature Golf

A player uses a short club to hit a ball into a hole camouflaged by a plastic log cabin, condor-sized bird house or a leering clown face, in the lowest number of strokes as possible while avoiding pools of spilled soda, floating tufts of cotton candy and sharp-edged windmill blades. Players may not keep their own score.

Roller Coaster

After eating an extra large bacon-crusted pizza washed down with Dr. Pepper Slurpees, then waiting in a 90-minute line mid-day, each player rides with 5 nine-year olds in a metal car attached to a track that loops, climbs and 60-degree plunges at 80 mph without barfing.

Bird Watching

Teams of players spread their blankets down on a crowded public beach. Each team must protect their potato chip bags, broken cookies and half-eaten sandwiches from aggressive seagulls. Players may scream at and shoo the birds but not harm the birds or leave their blankets. Ants may be substituted for birds, if not available.

Synchronized Are We There Yet

Teams of bored 11-year old children without electronic devices, book or activities unwillingly pile into mini-vans for a long drive. Almost immediately after leaving the house, the teams begin chanting “Are We There Yet,” “I Have to Go to the Bathroom,” “She Touched Me” and “I‘m Gonna Be Sick.” Whichever van stops first wins.

Back Seat Driving

Teams of elderly nervous backseat drivers ride in hot cars, during long road trips to family weddings. Players repeatedly shout out unwanted cautionary phrases,“I think you missed the turn,” “Watch out” and “Is that a bag of leaves or a small boy?” Whichever player gets ejected first wins.

Entertaining 4-Year Olds in a Small Beach House During a Multi-Day Rainstorm

The player with the most children alive at the end of the week wins. Children with a weak erratic pulse will qualify as alive.

Red, White and Blue

Husbands and wives with divergent political views spend the entire 4th of July weekend without mentioning despairingly either presidential candidates’ names or political party. First person to call a divorce lawyer or schedule a lobotomy for their spouse wins.

Lone Wolves Anonymous Hires Public Relations Firm

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:                         June 14, 2016

Contact:            Canis Lupus, Leader of the Pack, 1-800–HOWLING, clupus@lwa.org

Lone Wolves Anonymous Hires Public Relations Firm

Jackson Hole/WY – Lone Wolves Anonymous (LWA) lashed out against the press and the public for besmirching its good name and inferring guilt by association.

For more than 40 years, lone wolves have received blame for committing random acts of violence starting with Sirhan Sirhan’s 1968 assassination of presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.

“We need to dispel the myth once and for all that lone wolves are to blame for so much carnage. We’ve had it up to here,” said Mr. Lupus pointing to his snowy white chest. “Not all lone and solitary folks are killers in sheep’s clothing.”

In response to these repeated false claims about its very nature, LWA hired the world famous public relations firm, Tooth & Nail, to burnish its falsely tarnished public image.

“We hired Tooth & Nail because they came highly recommended by the sharks who went from much feared to having their own hockey team and TV programs,” explained the pack leader excitedly.

Tooth & Nail immediately advised LWA to show the public their more fun loving and playful side. “They advocated we adapt a mantra of complete transparency. Therefore, we’ve opened up all of our activities to the general public,” announced Mr. Lupus “We’re anxious to show how everyone how we care for our young, scent mark and howl at the moon.”

Prior to hiring the PR firm, LWA tried a few less than successful image changing activities: hunting in pairs, which ended in acrimony; becoming gatherers which created packs of hangry wolves; and shifting the blame to other solitary animals, such as the Tasmanian devil, the grizzly bear and the Giant California sea cucumber.

“The bears refused to take the blame lying down,” said Mr. Lupus. “A Tasmanian devil delivered a lethal bite to a reporter seeking an interview. And the sea cucumbers let the fault wash right over their leathery skin.”

Lupus reminded the public that, “Lone wolves don’t kill people. People with guns kill people.”

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“What about chicken and pilaf?”

nanaby Karen Topakian

“Nana, I’ve decided to become a vegetarian,” I announced to my maternal grandmother one spring afternoon in 1976, as she bustled around her sunny yellow kitchen making my grandfather’s dinner.

“Why would you want to do that?” she bellowed, looking at me while wielding a kitchen knife.

“I gave it up for Lent and I’m not going to eat meat anymore,” I announced smugly.

“That’s crazy!” she exclaimed while chopping carrots for a stew.

She paused for a moment before continuing, “What about chicken?”

“What about chicken? It’s meat.”

“You’re not going to eat chicken and pilaf!” she exclaimed referring to the signature Armenian dish.

I shook my head.

“Where does she get these crazy ideas?” she muttered to herself while slicing onions.

“What about your mother’s lamb chops?”

I shook my head.

“I thought you liked the way she cooked them?”

“I do like them. But lamb is meat.”

She waved her hand at me dismissively. I fiddled with the buttons on my shirt.

“You can eat the pilaf. There’s no meat in the pilaf,” she responded proudly for finding a loophole.

“But you cook it in chicken broth,” I countered.

“Yes. So.”

A few Sundays later, my family sat down to dinner in my Nana’s dining room. She emerged from the kitchen carrying a platter of roasted chicken, which she placed on the table next to a big bowl of rice pilaf.

“Karen, have some chicken,” offered my Nana seated to my right, reaching across my plate with a forkful of white meat.

I blocked her move with my right hand. “No, thank you, Nana. Remember, I’m a vegetarian. I don’t eat meat anymore.”

“Don’t be silly,” she responded, waving the meat-laden fork in front of me.

“Have a little. Who’s going to know?”

I shook my head defiantly.

“Why do you keep insisting she eat it?” reproached my mother.

“What will you eat?” queried Nana.

I pointed to the green beans, the salad and the looped Armenian string cheese piled next to dan hatz, Armenian cracker bread.

“That’s not enough.”

“I’ve heard enough,” announced my grandfather in Armenian.

“I don’t like the idea of killing animals for food,” I continued.

“If you think meat was once an animal, of course you wouldn’t eat it. But you can’t think that way,” Nana admonished me.

Having failed to appeal to humaneness, I resorted to her religious side.

“You’re a Christian, Nana. Doesn’t God say, thou shall not kill?”

But my grandmother had an answer for that, too. She emphatically plopped the meat back on the platter with a thud. “He didn’t mean animals.”

Circulating Circulars

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by Karen Topakian

“Can I help?” asked my mother at age 11 walking into the dining room of her extended family’s Providence home one Wednesday afternoon in 1937.

She directed her question at cousins Dolly and Eddy, ages 14 and 12 respectively, sitting at the oilcloth covered table, folding a big stack of orange advertizing circulars from Jimmy’s Market, a neighborhood independent grocer.

For the past six months, Eddy had a weekly job jamming them through residential mail slots.

“Sure,” Dolly chirped.

“How many did Jimmy give you?” asked my mother enthusiastically.

“It’s the same amount every week. 100,” answered Dolly without looking up from her stack as she carefully lined up the paper edges to form a precise tri-fold.

Eddy quickly nodded in agreement.

My mother smiled as she pulled a big stack closer to her. “I like doing this.”

Eddy glanced up at my mother, rolled his eyes and returned to folding, slowly.

“Jimmy must like chicken. Last time it was on sale, too,” announced my mother pointing to an ad.

Her cousins kept folding.

“Eddy, what time will you deliver these tomorrow?” asked my mother.

“Whenever I feel like it,” answered Eddy sullenly without looking up.

“My mother reached for more circulars trying to keep up with Dolly.

“He really pays you a penny a piece?” inquired my mother.

“For every one he delivers,” responded Dolly. ”He does have to go to every house in the neighborhood.”

“I think that sounds like fun! And he gets paid,” quipped my mother.

Eddy reached for another stack and shrugged.

A couple of minutes later Auntie Anna entered bearing fruit.

Dolly politely declined, “I don’t want to get my hands sticky.”

Eddy didn’t answer. My mother accepted.

Anna placed a small plate bearing a sliced apple and a tangerine in front of my mother.

My mother took a few bites, careful to keep her hands clean.

As soon as they finished folding, Eddy left the dining room; Dolly started her homework and my mother walked back to her quiet home a few blocks away.

The following Wednesday afternoon, my mother eagerly entered her cousin’s dining room and noticed the empty table.

“They’re not here,” said Auntie Anna seated in a rocking chair next to the radio.

“Don’t they have to fold today?” inquired my mother discouraged by their absence.

“Jimmy didn’t want Eddy to do it anymore,” announced Anna.

“How come?”

Anna shrugged. “I don’t know. Eddy said something about customers complaining.”

My mother shook her head and walked back home. She tried to figure out what could have happened.

A few days later, she spotted Eddy riding his bicycle down the street. “Hi Eddy, what happened with the circulars?”

“I got tired of delivering them so I stuffed them down the sewer.”

 

Every Hair A Wanted Hair

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by Karen Topakian

When my father met my mother in the summer of 1948, he sported an attractive head of thick, dark, wavy hair. Within a few years, he had succumbed to male pattern baldness – a dramatically receding hairline accompanied by finer, shorter thinner hair forming a U shaped pattern.

Despite his hair loss, my father kept going to the barber and not just any barber but Pete the barber whom he had frequented since high school.

“I need to get my ears lowered,” said my father on a Friday night using a colloquial expression from the 1940s. “But it’s too cold to get a haircut.”

My father shivered as he spoke

“What difference does the weather make?” wondered my mother while putting away the groceries.

“I’ll stop at Pete’s tomorrow on the way home from the shop.”

“Didn’t you just get a haircut?” asked my mother as she neatly slid a box of crackers into an empty space in the kitchen cupboard.

“It’s getting long.”

My mother shot him a quizzical look

“I can feel it growing over my ears,” he chided her while tugging at imperceptible hairs.

She squinted at his head for a moment and shrugged.

“Seems like the longer you’ve been going to him, the less hair you have.”

“At least I don’t have to carry a comb anymore,” he declared proudly.

The next day, as my father brushed past my mother on his way to the coat closet, he harrumphed. “Pete raised his prices fifty cents.”

My mother studied his thinning hair and said, “He should be charging you less. Next time why don’t you ask him to charge you by the hair.

 

Can’t Take No for an Answer

by Karen Topakian

Nana

Nana

My sister and I had just come home from high school one day in the late 60’s, when the wall phone in my parent’s den rang. My mother, sister and I stared at it. Even though, we weren’t sure who was calling, we had a pretty good idea – Nana. Nobody reached for it. We all knew what she wanted – to give us her home made Armenian food.

My sister reluctantly picked up the receiver.

“I thought you weren’t home. The phone rang a few times,” stated Nana, exasperated.

“Hi, Nana.”

My mother and I nodded knowingly.

“Gail, tell your mother I made some bonjadabood for Armen (a soupy mix of spinach and barley),” explained Nana.

Gail put her hand over the mouthpiece. Before she could repeat Nana’s offer, my mother shook her head emphatically no.

“No, Nana. Mom said no.”

“It’s still hot. I just made it.”

“Mom said no.”

My mother continued to shake her head, without knowing what she was offered, because the contents didn’t matter. My mother saw these frequent Armenian food offerings as an interruption in her menu, which she didn’t appreciate.

Gail repeated her negative response.

“Let me talk to your mother.”

Gail stretched out the long curly phone cord and handed the receiver to my mother.

“Hi mom,” said my mother. “How are you?’

“Alice, I don’t know why you don’t want some bonjadabood. You know Armen likes it.”

“It doesn’t go with what I’m making for dinner,” explained my mother making a sour face at the thought of this dish’s gloppy texture.

“Then serve it tomorrow night.”

“You and dad enjoy it.”

“I made plenty.”

“I don’t need it this time.”

“Alice, why are you so stubborn. Send the girls over,” insisted my Nana. “It’s all packaged up.”

“They have homework to do,” declared my mother through clenched teeth.

“What about Armen? He can pick it up on his way home. If you call him now, you can reach him.”

“Mom, thank you anyway,” said my mother hanging up the phone.

An hour later, there was a knock on the kitchen door.

My mother opened it only to see my grandfather holding a big round metal pan covered with aluminum foil. “This is for Armen,” he said handing it to her.

“You didn’t need to bother to bring it,“ responded my mother frustrated.

He muttered in Armenian, shrugged and left.

My mother announced to the pan, “Why can’t she ever take no for an answer.”

I offer this post in memory of my grandfather who was born on Jan 17, 1895.

Front Row Seat

by Karen Topakian

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On a warm summer Tuesday evening in 1948, my father bound up the stairs to my mother’s front door on Narragansett Boulevard. He knocked quickly.

My mother answered the door and ushered him inside.

He glanced at his watch as he walked into her living room to greet her parents. Almost 7:40. He and my mother didn’t have much time. They needed to leave now to arrive by 8 at his uncle and aunt’s house for the Tuesday night ritual.

He wanted a seat in front of his relative’s much-coveted possession, a console television set, to watch America’s most popular show, NBC’s hit comedy variety program, “Texaco Star Theatre’s Milton Berle Show.”

Thousands of Americans dropped everything on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. to turn on their 12 inch black and white television sets with the tinny speaker and tune into Uncle Milty bounce, preen, clown and joke.

But my father’s relative’s small den couldn’t accommodate more than a few people on the floral print couch or in the one upholstered chair. If they arrived too late or too many people joined the fun, for 60 minutes they would have to laugh while standing.

He’d stood on his feet all day working at his family’s jewelry plating business. He looked forward to sitting.

My parents needed to hustle.

“Armen, it must be very hot at the shop these days,” said my grandmother fanning herself.

My father quickly agreed.

“Are you busy?” queried my grandfather, a jewelry manufacturer and an occasional customer of my father’s family’s business.

“Since vacation. Very busy,” responded my father nervously shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

“Are you doing much gold work?” asked my grandfather running his hand through his wavy hair.

“A little.”

“Why do people like gold so much?” mused my grandfather.

My father shrugged.

“I’ve got a customer who sells mostly silver. Nobody buys silver. I’ve told him to sell gold. He’ll make more money. Everybody wants gold.”

My mother noticed my father sneaking a look at his watch and interrupted, “We better get going. Or we’ll be late.”

My father nodded in agreement. After saying their goodbyes, they strode out to my father’s car. He drove carefully but quickly to his Uncle Dick’s house a mile or so away.

As my father parked in front of his uncle’s house on Marion Avenue, he noted a familiar car parked in the driveway.

“But I don’t recognize this car,” posited my father pointing to the vehicle in front of him. Quickly, he calculated his decreasing likelihood of a seat on the small-ish sofa.

“Maybe they aren’t visiting your aunt and uncle,” suggested my mother optimistically.

Aunt Rena opened the front door when she saw them approach. “Come on in. The show’s almost ready to start.”

My parents made a beeline through the living room into the dining room and kitchen on their way to the den, when an older couple, the Avakians, stopped them.

“Armen, is that you?” asked Fred Avakian.

“Yes it is,” responded my father pivoting ever so slightly to gain a glimpse into the den. “Of course you know Alice.”

“Armen, I haven’t see you in years, since you worked at Henry and Bebe’s store,” announced Fred’s wife, Ardie.

“That’s my brother Ted,” answered my father taking a side step closer to the door.

“How’s General Plating?” asked Fred.

“Busy,” answered my father as he stared at the kitchen clock. “We don’t want to miss the first laugh.”

“I haven’t seen your mother in awhile. How is she?” asked Ardie.

“Busy. Working.”

“Armen, seeing you reminds me of the time we sat with your parents at a banquet when our waiter dropped a whole chicken dinner on the floor,” declared Ardie. “We laughed so hard.”

My father nodded inching away from the conversation.

“But do you know whose dinner it was?” asked Ardie.

My father shook his head as he unsuccessfully attempted to see into the den.

“Be sure and ask your mother to tell you the rest of the story,” she called after my father who had exited the kitchen.

“Looks like the show’s about to start,” commented my father from the next room.

Fred and Ardie re-directed their kitchen conversation toward my mother.

In two steps, my father had made his way to the back bedroom cum TV room and jockeyed for the one remaining position on the couch just as the show opened with its standard Texaco commercial.

In a few moments, my mother entered the den. My father motioned for her to squeeze in on the couch next to him. She took one look at the person with whom she’d have to squeeze between and said. “That’s ok. I’ll stand.”

My father smiled and leaned closer to the television set a happy man.

 

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! Thy Leaves are so Unstable

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By Karen Topakian

Every year my mother wanted a nice Christmas tree. Because my father chased the elusive good deal, he picked the wrong tree, repeatedly.

Christmas One

My mother pressed the heel of her hands on the edge of the kitchen sink as she peered through the snow-streaked window looking for signs of my father’s car. She spied him turning into the driveway, with her eyes squinted, she hoped she would see a Christmas tree. Without a tree, it hadn’t felt like Christmas yet.

My mother audibly sighed in relief as she watched him wrestle the evergreen from the back of the station wagon. And drag it over the snowy driveway, through the kitchen and the hallway into the living room.

“Here’s your tree, Alice,” exclaimed my father proudly.

My mother stood with her hands on her hips in the living room doorway inspecting his purchase.

“I got a good deal.”

“Another good deal. Remember the last one?”

“But this one has only has one bad side.”

“Can you turn it around?”

He tossed his icy gloves on the floor, twirled the tree while watching my mother’s face.

She pointed to the short branches, barely long enough to hold an ornament. To the sparse amount of branches, leaving big spaces between the boughs. And to the trees thin frame.

“Only one bad side? I see four.”

He turned it again, this time looking at the tree.

“Alice, I swear, at the lot it only had one bad side.”

My mother walked back into the kitchen shaking her head.

 

Christmas Two

“I think it’s raining,” announced my mother during dinner one night in December.

My father looked out the kitchen window. “I don’t see any rain coming down.”

“I hear something that sounds like rain.”

“I don’t hear anything.”

My sister, Gail, and I ate our spaghetti and meatballs in silence until my mother corrected me for slurping.

When we finished eating, Gail and I asked if we could turn the lights on the Christmas tree. My mother agreed. We ran into the living room.

“Mom, come quick,” we called in unison as we stood in front of the tree.

My mother hurried out of the kitchen, “What’s all the yelling about?”

As she approached the living room, the ‘rain’ she heard grew louder.

“Armen, Come. Look.”

My father strode in from his chair in the den.

Now do you hear it?” asked my mother as she pointed to the needles cascading onto the wrapped packages under the Christmas tree. “Another one of your great tree deals.”

“But I was right. It wasn’t raining,” responded my father sheepishly.

 

Christmas Three

“Armen can you straighten the tree?” my mother asked my father one evening after work.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s tilted.”

My father reached through the decorated branches to give a tug.

He looked over to my mother for her approval.

“Better.”

Pleased with himself, he walked back into the den.

The day before Christmas, my mother again noticed the treeing leaning in a different direction.

That night, she told my father she was worried that the tree might fall over.

“It’s not going to fall over,” declared my father as he tugged on a branch.

The tree shifted.

He dropped down to all fours, brusquely moved some wrapped packages out of the way and inspected the tree at its base.

“The guy at the lot didn’t cut the bottom straight.”

“Would a tree with a straight cut have cost more?” she queried while rolling her eyes.

“Get the girls to hold the tree.”

My sister and I wrapped our small hands around the lower tree trunk while my mother grasped it tightly higher up. My father sprawled out on the floor, carefully unscrewed the bolts holding the tree upright jostled the tree into place and retightened the screws.

When he gave the all clear, we stepped away.

“Much better,” applauded my mother.

My father stood up, brushed off his hands, pleased with himself.

After everyone went to bed on Christmas eve, my mother hung our stockings and admired her handiwork one more time.

But the tree seemed to tip again, in a different direction than it had before. She attributed it to her blurry tired eyes, turned off the lights and climbed into bed.

She arose first on Christmas morning, donned her bathrobe, padded into the living room cast her eyes toward the tree and let out a shriek. My sister, father and I jumped out of our beds and ran into the living room.

There lay our fully decorated tree face down on the carpet, across the perfectly wrapped presents. Ornaments, tinsel and lights splayed out on the living room floor.

My mother covered her face in her hands and groaned.

“That’s it, no more bargain Christmas trees,” announced my father as we struggled together to right the tree.

And my father kept that promise. Until the next year.

The Hearing Test

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by Karen Topakian

“How long am I going to sit here?” my mother asked herself while seated on her suburban ranch house’s concrete front steps.

She pulled her German shepherd Pasha, a little closer to pet his furry head. The summer sun warmed her bare knees.

My mother put her ear to the screen door to listen to my father’s conversation with the man who was testing his hearing. She heard muffled voices. So she waited. That’s all she could do. That’s all she’d been doing for the last 30 minutes.

It all started when the ordinary looking man in the dark colored business suit arrived for his appointment with my dad. My father greeted him at the kitchen door and ushered him inside where he promptly shook my mother’s hand. She returned to the kitchen sink to resume washing the lunch dishes.

My father ushered him to a seat at the kitchen table where the ordinary looking man placed a thick black leather attaché case on the table. He carefully unclasped the two locks, gently removed a machine full of dials, gauges, switches, wires and a headset, which he placed on the table.

“Mrs. Topakian, I will need you to leave the house,” he solemnly announced to my mother as she emptied the cold coffee grounds into the disposal. “In order to test your husband’s hearing, I will need complete silence.”

My mother turned from the sink toward my father, eyebrows raised and her head cocked to an angle. My father nodded in agreement with the ordinary looking man.

She wiped her hands on the terrycloth dishtowel then walked into the bedroom to find her sandals. Muttering to herself, “Why do I have to leave the house? Can’t I just go in another room? And what about the dog? He didn’t say anything about the dog. Would he able to stay but I had to leave?”

In a few minutes, she emerged. Opened the cellar stairs, retrieved the dog’s leash and walked out.

After attaching the leash, she marched up the street. Pasha, like any good dog, wanted to spend his walk sniffing. My mother let him bury his nose in the grass for a few seconds before pulling on the leash to keep walking. She needed to finish her household chores on her day off. And now the ordinary looking man had highjacked her plans.

“I need to go to Almacs and CVS. But my keys and list are in the house,” thought my mother. “Plus I need to bring in the laundry from the line.”

She rounded the corner onto Budlong Road and walked for a block before she took a right. She thought around the block would be enough time for the ordinary looking man to complete his test.

Pasha again pulled on the leash to get closer to a squirrel skirting across a lawn. She jerked him back. While he sniffed, she fumed at the inconvenience of having to leave her own house abruptly.

Soon they approached the main thoroughfare at the bottom of the street, Reservoir Avenue. My mother walked carefully on the narrow sidewalk, struggling to keep Pasha out of the path of the cars racing past.

As she turned the corner at the bottom of her street, she saw the ordinary looking man’s car still parked in front of her house. “Was he also testing Armen’s eyesight and measuring him for shoes? How much longer would she have to wait?”

So she sat and sat on her front steps until the ordinary looking man bid her goodbye as he walked past her and climbed into his car.

My mother strode back into the house and declared, “Armen, do you know how long I had to wait? I’m glad he didn’t come in the winter when it was snowing.”

My father looked up from the paper and smiled, “What did you say Alice? I didn’t hear you.”

Republican Presidential Candidates Struggle to Find New Scapegoats

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by Karen Topakian

“Should I blame the mentally ill again for yesterday’s killings in San Bernardino?” mused Dr. Ben Carson to his advisor, Armstrong Williams. “I just blamed them last week in Colorado. Let’s find a new group.”

Carson and Williams sat in silence for a few moments.

“What about heathens or Catholics?” suggested Williams. “It’s high time we brought back blaming Catholics.”

Dr. Carson shook his head while stroking his salt and pepper beard. In a moment, his eyes flashed and he announced, “The Huns. I just read about their leader in the book, Attila the Hun: Better than Hitler.”

“Do you mean the nomadic people of the Caucasus?” questioned Williams.

“Did you say Secaucus, as in New Jersey?” asked Carson. “Yes, let’s blame it on Governor’s Christie’s people.”

“Caucasus,” repeated Williams. “The mountainous region in western Turkey. Didn’t you learn anything from our foreign policy advisor?”

“We agree. It’s the Huns.”

 

Mike Huckabee pulled his well-worn Bible off the shelf and plopped into an adjacent upholstered armchair. He thumbed through his favorite book looking for a new group to blame for the most recent killings.

“Sin and evil aren’t good enough. I need something more damning,” muttered Huckabee. “And I need to be ready when the reporters call.”

Huckabee turned to his bookmarked passages, reading his favorite words aloud to help himself focus, ‘fornicators, lustfulness, slothfulness.”

In a moment it came to him. He offered a quiet word of thanks to God “The good Lord has rained violence on us because of atheists. If they prayed more, God would stop the killings.”

 

Donald Trump spent a few extra minutes admiring his profile in the bathroom mirror. He slapped on an extra splash of aftershave to make sure he smelled good for the ladies in the press who would ask him for comments about yesterday’s killings.

“It’s sick people. And I know that because I’m one of the healthiest people in the world,” bellowed Trump. “Everyone else is saying mentally ill. I’m saying sick. All kinds of sicknesses make people go on shooting rampages. Cancer. Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Restless Leg. Atypical Mole Syndrome. Even the heebie jeebies. ”

 

Ted Cruz sat at his desk drumming his fingers on his keyboard. He glanced up at his diplomas from Harvard and Princeton.

“I’m the smartest guy in the room. I know I can come up with something better than mental illness,” uttered Cruz looking for a new response to the most recent shootings in San Bernardino. “What about the gays? We haven’t blamed the gays in awhile..”

Cruz thought for a moment then proudly tapped out his new message – “A country allowing homosexuals to marry has lost its way. The husband and wife shooter couple probably sat next to a gay married couple, which profoundly affected their heterosexual marriage, forcing them to arm themselves and slaughter innocent people.”

 

“I still don’t see why everyone reacted so badly to ‘Stuff Happens’,” stated Jeb Bush to his campaign manager. “I didn’t say Sh^t Happens.”

The presidential candidate slouched back in his chair and put his head down.

“Do I really need to have something new to say every time there’s a shooting? I can’t keep up,” complained the brother and son of former presidents.

“You’re mumbling, Governor,” said his campaign manager.

“I bet the shooter had an older, stupid brother who stole the political spotlight from his younger, smarter, better looking brother. I bet the older stupid brother left a big stinking political mess for the younger brother to address and that led him to uncontrolled fits of violent rage,” stated Bush.

“Let’s stick with stuff happens,” announced the campaign manager.

 

“How many times do I have to say it’s our left wing values?” pronounced presidential hopeful Marco Rubio to his campaign staff. “They are undermining our institutions and leading people to pick up guns and just start shooting.”

“But Senator, we need to say something new,” pressed his communications director. “We’ve prepared a few comments for you, tell us which ones you like.”

Mr. Rubio gave his team the nod to go ahead.

“Living in the United States without a plan to address illegal immigrants and rampant abortionists, can make people resort to violence.”

“My Cuban parents fled violence to come to America where they worked hard without killing anyone, why can’t these people do the same?”

“I blame our president for forcing sick people to buy health insurance online. If they didn’t have Obamacare they would be too sick to get angry enough to pick up a gun.”

 

“Ok boys, what am I saying today about these shootings? I need something provocative to catapult me into the primetime debate,” announced presidential hopeful Chris Christie to his staff while they sat in the limo waiting for the bridge traffic to clear. “You have to give me something. I can’t sit with that nitwit Santorum again.”

His aides shook their heads.

“Do I have to do all the thinking around here?” asked the Governor from New Jersey. “Let’s think of something catchy, pithy.”

“How about if you blame the Democrats?” asked his communications manager.

“Can’t. Cruz already did.”

“What about something from the Bible?” asked an aide with a full beard. “Like blaming adulterers?’

“Pastor Huckabee’s sewn up the Bible business.”

“Should I tell him the idea you all rejected?” asked an aide with a persistent cowlick.

His staff aggressively shook their heads.

“Now I gotta hear it,” exclaimed the former prosecutor.

The assembled staff held their breath.

“Ahem, I went back and looked at some of your previous statements about gun violence and thought we could resurrect one. ‘I believe we already have too many firearms in our community. This recent incident proves it again.’”

“Driver, stop the car. You. Out of the car. Now. You’re fired. Don’t ever remind me of what I said in the past.”