Lee Pitts:The unknown politician | TSLN.com

Lee Pitts:The unknown politician

This time next year we’ll know if we’ll suffer through four more years of the current resident of the White House or suffer four more years under his Republican challenger. Whoever wins, we’ll find a way to suffer and survive. We always have.

I developed my lack of interest in all things political at a young age when Fred Triplebottom was elected President of our Junior High School. Through all of recorded history the school president had gotten good grades, participated in sports and student council, and was quite often the teacher’s pet.

Fred Triplebottom was none of the above. He skipped classes, got caught carrying a knife, never had the proper stationery, like pen and paper, and worst of all… he was a known smoker! Fred was slow as an ox, but not as smart, and today he’d be put in special classes and labeled learning disabled, mentally challenged or intellectually unremarkable. His parents never put a bumper sticker on their car bragging about their honor student and it wasn’t just because his pop was in prison or his mom’s car had no bumpers. He’d been flunked several times and was much older than all of us and yet he still got D’s in school. D as in dumb! I think his teachers just passed him along because they got tired of looking at him. It was considered a possibility by all of us that at his present rate of progress he’d have kids in the same grade as he was.

Fred had never shown the slightest interest in anything to do with school. He didn’t play in the band, or on any sports teams, and he hung around with the town’s riff-raff, not the sons and daughters of the town’s aristocracy. That’s why it was so puzzling when he announced he was running for school president. Why he wanted the position I have no idea. I don’t think it was wealth and power, nor that it would look good on his resume. Fred didn’t really need a resume where he was headed. A rap sheet yes, but a resume no. Maybe he thought it would look good when he applied for early parole?

Lacking a political machine and any record in politics, Fred relied on crudely made posters that said “Vote for Me.” (How were we supposed to know who “Me” was?) Fred ran as a centrist candidate and a man of the people. You could say he was the “food candidate” as brownies and burgers were his platform. You see, we all had to eat in the school cafeteria, either that or starve. (Which was a viable alternative.) Fred promised brownies and burgers would be served three times a week. It was a brilliant strategy. The brownies we got occasionally were delicious, with a dusting of powdered sugar on top and the burgers were always great. Usually all we got was mystery meat spaghetti, fish with the consistency of Jell-O and beans. Lots and lots of beans, which despoiled the classroom environment in classes held after the lunch hour.

The reason we all believed that Fred could influence the menu in the school cafeteria was because his mom worked there. Mind you, she wasn’t the nutritionist who decided what cheap slop to feed us every week, she was just one of the lady’s in hairnets who slung the hash. But at that tender age we didn’t know how the system worked. For all we knew, it was within her power to give us burgers and brownies every day of the week. Fred’s campaign fed off this ignorance.

The elections were held at the end of seventh grade but his term didn’t start until eighth grade, so this left the entire summer for school officials to stew over the apocalypse with Fred as president. Never before had someone from this low in the social pecking order been elected to any office. He was the Unknown Politician!

As it turned out Fred didn’t do anything and brownies and burgers showed up on the menu at the same rate as they did before. But every time they did Fred would point out, “See there, look what I did for you.”

The school survived Fred’s reign as president and I suspect that whoever is elected this November, we will too.


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