The thing that I miss most about private life is that I had time to write. Just when critics began to see my literary talent, I was swept up in the 2008 election … and the rest is history.
But now that things have slowed down, I’ve started working on my next book—a novel. It’s a heart-wrenching coming-of-age story about a young orphan with superhuman oratorical powers growing up in the inner city. Also, he might be a wizard, but I’ll leave that narrative thread hanging until at least book two or three.
The girls think it is very good, potentially the next Harry Potter. Here’s the problem: If I publish under my own name, the book will never get a fair treatment. What should I do?
Dear Mr. President—
Your instincts are right. Conservatives will view any novel bearing your name as a roman à clef, and they will busy themselves looking for hidden meaning. To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a budding warlock’s magic wand is just a budding warlock’s magic wand!
The good news is that there’s a long history of pen names in literature. George Orwell was actually born Eric Blair, and can you believe that Dr. Seuss would have had to refer you to a specialist if you’d asked him for a vasectomy?
The key in your case will be to pick a name that’s clearly ridiculous—so you can bask in media speculation over true authorship—but one that no one would ever suspect you of choosing: Hartfrid Düsediekerbäumer? Octavius Castellanus? Reginald Muffinpuncher?
Just drop me a note once you choose so I can find it on the bestseller lists. —GWP
Dear Mr. Plunkitt—
I was speaking with France’s assistant deputy minister of denrées alimentaires on my most recent overseas trip, and we were both quite frustrés by the recent controversy and disgust over eating horse meat. During my childhood in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, I found la viande de cheval to be quite délicieux indeed.
Simply put, dear Plunkitt, rien de mieux que de dinner d’un épais juicy steak de cheval. Pourquoi y a-t-il un préjugé en faveur des vaches?
Secrétaire d’Etat américain
Dear Mr. Kerry—
I am not one to disdain learning, and thus I find your fluency in French quite admirable. But it does present a problem that you now seem unable to distinguish la langue française from your native tongue.
But I suppose it’s just as well in this case. A suggestion to eat horse, coming from our Secretariat of State, would read like an exhortation to cannibalism. —GWP
This “national dialogue” we are having over gun control has reached absurd new heights. Recently, a second-grader was suspended after allegedly eating his Pop-Tart into the shape of a gun.
I’m organizing a day of protest. On May 7 (chosen because the numeral resembles a rifle), freedom-loving primary schoolers all across this great nation should nibble their lunches and snacks into as many delicious weapons as possible. Be creative: Attach two hotdogs with a string of spaghetti to create nunchucks, or whittle a long, crispy French fry into a shiv. Think big: If you come to school with a whole pizza, you might be able to bite your way to a passable Predator drone before the recess bell rings.
Let’s show the educational establishment that the right to bear food—of any size and shape—shall not be infringed.
National Rifle Association
Dear Mr. LaPierre—
I fear you are being flippant. If you knew how many times each year a bank is robbed with a crudely bitten pastry, you would be shocked. I bet it is at least a baker’s dozen. Besides, think how it will worsen the bullying problem if the brats learn how to fashion breadstick bludgeons and chicken nugget throwing stars. —GWP
Dear Mr. George W. Plunkitt—
In may I will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Northern Middleton State College, and I’m hoping to find a job in Washington. But the career services office isn’t much help. Do you have any advice?
Michael S. Pensky
Dear Mr. Pensky—
Advice columnists, like TV pundits, always have something to say; otherwise the paychecks stop coming. The best suggestion I can give after decades reviewing terrible, awful, no good, very bad resumes is this: Learn to write. For the sake of argument, pretend George Washington is submitting a cover letter for the presidency. The way most people write, it would sound like this: “My previous experience has taught me how to raise morale within and support for a military organization, as well as how to lead and manage militia volunteers in armed confrontations.”
It should sound more like this: “I won the Revolutionary War through sheer force of personality, and had I never been born, you patriot leaders would be speaking with British accents—that is, right up until the point at which the royal hangman released the trapdoor beneath your bound, shoeless feet and sent you plummeting to your ignoble and quickly forgotten deaths.”
Can you hear the difference? —GWP
P.S. If you ever use the word “synergy,” you’re doing it wrong.