I’ll admit to being surprised. It’s been positively yonks since I’ve been invited to attend a State dinner at the White House and – if I’m being honest – I had my doubts I’d ever be invited back. All I can say that, last time I was there, the final thing I remember is agreeing to do tequila shots with Madeleine Albright. Everything else is incredibly hazy except for the Secret Service report that was incredibly clear and vivid and placed a lot of stock on my unauthorized use of a golf buggy. Apparently crashing an electric vehicle head first into the marble staircase whilst yelling ‘liberty of death’ is frowned upon. You live and learn.
Who’d have thought Donald J Trump would be a fan of mine? Turns out, he never misses an edition of the Western Port Times, especially the real estate section. Ever since the deal for Greenland went sour, he likes to get our local paper on the off chance French Island might come up for sale. But, apparently, he’s an avid reader of my column and considers all the things I’ve written about him over the past few years to be incredibly fair, even going so far as to concede I have a point about him being a unhinged maniac who’s elevated human kind’s on-going existence from a statement to a question. Good on him for being willing to engage in a little self-reflection.
You’ve got to feel for our Prime Minister. There’s a lot of pressure in being the guest of honour at a White House State dinner, even if you haven’t previously written off a golf cart. Luckily, he sought my advice on the way over. I, for one, am proud we have a PM that believes so strongly in car-pooling and is prepared to extend the principle to the Prime Ministerial plane. It was kinder still of him to drop through Tyabb airport to pick me up. It gave us plenty of time to strategize.
‘First’, I said, ‘Make a bold impression. Do something that Donald J Trump and the First Lady have never seen before and that they’ll remember forever.’ ScoMo looked concerned. Clearly he had no idea what I was talking about. Tuxedo with a ruffled shirt? Greeting the President with a nipple cripple instead of the traditional handshake? Parachuting onto the lawn whilst on fire as ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ blasts away in the background? With both hands I gripped the Prime Minister’s shoulders and gave him a solid shake for at least three minutes, maybe four. Then I produced a box and held it high so that he could bask in its dazzling glory. ‘Cadbury Roses,’ I said. ‘Wait ‘til the President cops an eyeful of these little beauties.’
It worked a treat. When the PM, his wife and I trundled up to the front steps and gave the doorbell a tweak, you could tell the Trumpster was truly touched by our Antipodean gesture of goodwill. By the time he said ‘come on in’, he was elbow-deep in the box with trails of caramel deluxe dripping down his chin. He tried to shake my hand but I pretended I was looking the other way after spotting an entire peppermint crème crunch stuck to the Presidential palm, half way to melted.
Things had changed since I’d last been. Gone are the libraries, works of art and antique furniture; replaced by a Foosball table, a mud-wrestling pit and a mini-golf course. The entire interior fell under the gaze of a thirty foot framed picture of ‘Dogs Playing Poker’ on loan from the Smithsonian. ‘I like what you’ve done to the place,’ I said to the President as he moved from devouring the contents of the box to the box itself.
A short time later, my night started to go downhill. In retrospect, it was foolish of me to accept his invitation to play a round of Foosball. It was downright idiotic of me to win. I simply couldn’t help myself. After handing the President (in metaphorical terms) his backside on a platter, there was a distinct shift in tone. Within seconds, I went from feted guest to sitting somewhere between China and kale in the Presidential pecking order. Even ScoMo looked embarrassed.
I knew I was in trouble when I found myself nearly two full miles from the head table and seated between Julian Assange and the bloke that used to advertise vacuum cleaners for Godfreys (apparently, the whole ‘vacuum holding a bowling ball’ thing went down a treat Stateside). Neither of them would shut up. Little wonder I took solace in drink. Besides, it was my idea that each table should be stocked with the finest fruity lexia money can buy in a four litre cask, so I was quite literally enjoying the fruity lexia of my labour.
The second Julian Assange drew breath and stopped talking about himself I made my move. Stumbling away from the table, I approached the Marine Corp Band, slipped them five bucks and asked them to perform a full military rendition of ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again?’ Luckily they knew it, and were only too happy to oblige. As I stood on top of the speakers, red-faced and leading a full-throated sing-along, I was gang tackled to the ground by Mike Pompeo who, despite his obvious physical heft is surprisingly agile. Springing to my feet, I leapt aboard the Presidential golf buggy and careened over the front lawn yelling, ‘liberty or death!’ before running it into the duck pond. What a night! I can’t wait to be invited back.