Friday, August 31, 2012

Potus, 2/14 lunch part IV

The waiters had efficiently cleaned up the table by this point and they retreated to the kitchen.  The headwaiter announced, “Sandwiches are being made available now.” He was clearly following the more-than-four-words-per-sentence quota.
Everyone settled down back in his or her respective seat.  The Head Chef came out to observe the commotion.  He looked nervously at Potus and approached.
“Is everything going well, Sir?”
“Ah yes,” replied Potus, glad to be distracted.  “Wonderful chowder!  Truly magnificent!”
The Head Chef was pleased and beamed.
“We had a bit of an incident with the soup,” he started and flinched again as the First Lady attempted to swat his shoulder.
“Yes, Sir, I heard.  I hope that everything was satisfactory?”
“Well, next time, make sure we have some bread on the side.  I want to dip some bread in my soup and I don’t want to break my bread bowl to do so.  That’s just a suggestion, not an order, of course.”
“Oh, no Sir, believe me, I understand and I’ll let my staff know that bread is to be served every time on the side.”
“Ah, good.  What’s for dinner tonight?”
“Sir, we’re having a nice poached salmon (your favourite) and a creamy risotto with pommes de terre purée.”
Potus rubbed his hands in glee.  “Let me ask you a question,” he said.  “Let me ask you a personal question.”
The Head Chef nodded and leaned closer.
“You know how you cooked the baked salmon a few weeks ago and it was nicely cooked, very soft, juicy, delicious?”
The Head Chef nodded.  “Yes, Sir.”
“You know how you cooked the salmon last week, where it was still a bit rare inside and wonderful?”
The Head Chef nodded, but looked a bit worried, unsure where this was going.
“Could you under poach the salmon so that’s just basically raw?  Like just bring out the salmon fillet on a cold platter and let us rip into it?”
The Head Chef looked very worried.  “Sir, I’m very sorry, no we can’t do that.  We need to cook the food for safety reasons.”
Potus pouted.  “I’m not sure that’s unsafe.  I just want to dig into the salmon sushi style, you know?”
The Head Chef started to make motions to leave.  “Um, Sir, I think you mean sashimi.  Anyway, I have to go.  I hope...  Yes, everyone, bon appétit, thanks, I hope everything is ok...”  He disappeared through a hidden door to the kitchen.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Potus, 2/14 lunch part III

“Soup is being served,” announced the headwaiter as five white-jacketed waiters walked in carrying serving trays.  Potus was served first, as was appropriate and the First Lady next.
Everyone slurped his or her soup in appreciation.  The sourdough bread the chowder was served in was crispy hard on the outside.  The tops of the bread had been sliced to form a soup bowl cover.  Potus began to rip and tear at the bowl top.
The First Lady leaned over and admonished him, “Potus, dear, don’t tear into your food like that.”
“Yes, dear, sorry for that.”  He scraped at the bread sides futilely with his oversized spoon.  He waved a white jacketed waiter over.  “Waiter, I’d like a knife please.  Not a butter knife like this one; a steak knife with sharp edges.”
“It will be my pleasure Sir,” said the waiter who whispered some urgent orders to another.
“What’s wrong dear,” asked the First Lady.
“It’s just this damn crust is so hard I can’t eat the bread.  That’s the best part.”
SoD spoke up.  “Sir, you can try what I’ve done; eat more of the soup first to expose the soft white underbelly and then you can scrape it thus,” and he showed how.
Potus said, “Yes, I see, I just like to have a little bit of bread to dip into my soup as well, so that I can eat it... Never mind.  Waiter!”
The waiter came over quickly.
“Scratch the knife request; I would like a side of the sourdough bread.  No soup inside, just the bread.”
“Certainly, of course, Sir,” the waiter acquiesced and whispered urgent commands to another waiter waiting by the wall.
“What is the deal with all the words these waiter use,” complained Potus.
AoUN answered in between mouthfuls of chowder.  “At the highest levels of wait staff training, the server is taught to use no less than 4 words per sentence.  So for example, they would be taught not to say, ‘You’re welcome’ but instead would say, ‘You are very welcome.’”
The First Lady spoke up.  “I did not know that,” she said and nodded graciously.
Potus muttered something unintelligible.
“What was that, dear?” she asked.
Potus waved her off and fought with his bread using the spoon.
“Well, I’d like to hear from the Secretary of Treasury and Labour how things are going so far in the White House,” the First Lady asked to the two across the table from her.
The Secretary of Transportation spoke up first since he had just finished slurping a spoonful of chowder.  “Things are progressing nicely.  We’ve made progress on some key infrastructure projects with the new funding that...”
Potus looked up angrily.  “I said no politics at the table,” he growled and started ripping at his sourdough bowl again.
SoT blushed slightly and murmured an apology.
The First Lady tried to smooth thing over.  “That’s fine, SoT, I was just asking in general how you were getting on, getting settled in and so on.”
SoT nodded and said, “Nicely, thank you, very nicely.”
Secretary of Labour was now done with her soup and said lightly, “I just love the way you’ve decorated all the drapes and curtains around the House.  All the furniture and fixtures are just lovely.”
The First Lady beamed.  “Why thank you!  I chose all the schemes myself.  It took quite a while to go over all the patterns and tell them where to put each fabric type and paint colour.  We spent nearly a whole day on it.”
SoL looked impressed.  “One whole day!  Why that does sound like a lot of work to redecorate a whole House of this size.”
The First Lady nodded meaningfully.
Potus ripped at his sourdough bowl in such frustration that he splashed his chowder across the table violently.  He covered the Chief of Staff in white broth and dangling clams.  Everyone, including the waiters came over to assist.
“It’s OK, I’m OK,” the Chief of Staff kept repeating, waving off help from the others.  Two waiters helped him out of his chair and two more came over to clean up the mess, including the long white trail from the President’s chair toward the unfortunate staff member’s seat.
The First Lady turned to Potus and chided him harshly in stage whispers.  Potus looked sheepishly and kept making whining noises, pointing at the remnants of his soup and bread bowl on his plate.
A waiter hurriedly entered from a recessed, hidden door and brought a steak knife to place gently in the correct position next to Potus’ plate.  Potus waved him off.
Another waiter appeared from another end of the dining room from a similarly hidden door, carrying a loaf of sourdough bread on a tray.  He placed it on the bread plate to the President’s left.  The President waved him off as well and started ripping chunks of sourdough, crumbs scattering over the white cloth.
“Bread?” he offered the First Lady guiltily.
She declined with a headshake.
He turned to the Vice President to his right.  “Bread?”
He declined with a headshake.
He huffed and tore more pieces, mopping up chowder from the remnants and puddles on his plate.
The waiters had efficiently cleaned up the table by this point and they retreated to the kitchen.  The headwaiter announced, “Sandwiches are being made available now,” clearly following the more-than-four-words-per-sentence quota.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Potus, 2/14 lunch part ii

AoUN spoke up.  “I think there could be a lot of differences in chowder that could be celebrated.  There are the white and red chowders from New York and Boston, of course.  Those are both valid.  But we also have corn chowder, potato chowder, clam chowder, fish chowder and many more.  I think the diversity of chowder is one of the great things about soup in general.”
SoD spoke up, “When I was a boy my mom used to make the most divine chicken soup.  It was delicious and the perfect antidote for any cold.”
Every smiled and nodded graciously.
Potus spoke up.  “But U.N. Ambassador, don’t you think there is some value in choosing a side, as it were?  I mean, they are two different kinds of chowder after all.”
AoUN answered, “Perhaps, Sir, there is some regional preference for one over the other.  This might be explained with climate differences, local access to the ingredients required, and so forth.  But one particular version of chowder being superior to another, no, I don’t think that’s right.”
The Vice President, who rarely said anything, chimed in.  “Well, for me, it has to be the Boston-style clam chowder.  And we don’t say ‘chowder’; we say ‘chowdah’ like that.”
“Chowdah!” crooned Potus.
“Chowdah,” repeated AoUN obediently.
Potus turned to SoD.  “But you’re a red chowder, I’m sorry, New York chowder man.  What is it that is so great about the red version?”
SoD answered, “I don’t know.  It’s just the lighter broth; less cream; also I like the sweetness of the tomatoes.”
Potus nodded.  “Indeed.  And you, U.N. Ambassador, do you think that there could be some sort of cultural cues that make the New York chowder less desirable than the Boston chowdah?”
AoUN was clearly trying to duck the question and get out of the conversation by now.  She tried to pretend she was busy drinking water from her glass.
Potus prompted again after a long pause while she gulped water.  “In other words, does the New York chowder feel less like a chowder, or maybe more like an imposter?  Would the New York chowder feel more like a real chowder if he, say, added corn or less tomatoes to himself?”
AoUN could no long drink more water, so she put down her glass and said, “How do you mean?  I’m unclear what the New York chowder is trying to accomplish...”
The Vice President jumped in and offered,  “I think what Potus is asking is if the New York chowder could become more like the Boston chowdah, and let’s say that it was offered a way to be more like the Boston version, would it choose to do so, and if so, why would that choice be made?”
AoUN smiled weakly, looking a little pale and shrugged meekly.
SoD jumped in.  “I think the New York chowder feels good about itself and doesn’t want to change.  It’s only the projection of the chowdah-ists who push their agenda upon the chowder and tell it how it should feel.  The chowder itself is perfectly happy being whatever colour it chooses to be.”
Everyone smiled and nodded graciously.  There was a mildly uncomfortable pause.
“Soup is served,” announced the headwaiter as five white-jacketed waiters walked in carrying serving trays.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Potus 2/14 lunch part I

They waited at a door before it opened and went in to eat lunch.  Everyone stood until Potus sat down.  He adjusted his seat and grabbed a napkin.  “I’ll never get used to that,” he muttered.
The waiters in their white suits fanned out around the table and the lunch guests sat down.  Various cabinet members who tended to show up were there:  Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, Chief of Staff (still juggling with his briefcase, mug, notepads), the Vice President, Ambasador to the United Nations, Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Labour, among others whom the president could pick out.
“So,” began Potus as everyone sat and adjusted their napkins.  “What do we think of clam chowder, white or red?”
“Red for sure,” answered Secretary of Defence.
“Of course, you’re from New York.  Any takers for white?”  Most of the people around the table nodded.  “In my opinion, chowder should be white.  It doesn’t make sense if it’s a red broth.  It’s not the same thing.”
AoUN spoke up.  “I think there could be a lot of differences in chowder that could be celebrated.  There is the white and red chowders from New York and Boston, of course.  Those are both valid.  But we also have corn chowder, potato chowder, clam chowder, fish chowder and many more.  I think the diversity of chowder is one of the great things about soup in general.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Potus, 2/14 pre-meeting

                Meanwhile, somewhere upstairs, Potus adjusted his tie and prepared to go to his first cabinet meeting.  Mrs. Potus came by the mirror and made eye contact.
                “Why hello Mr. President,” she cooed.
                “Hello, First Lady,” he answered flippantly adjusting his tie.
                “Are you married you sexy fox?”  They occasionally liked to role-play as strangers.  “I love a man with power.”
                “Yes, I am, dear, I’m sorry.  My wife is a fine woman indeed!”
                “Oh, well, what does she have that I don’t?  Besides you could just leave her and go with me,” she pouted.
                He smiled and grabbed her hips, still making eye contact in the mirror.  “Ah forget it, she’ll never find out,” he said and pulled her closer to him as she giggled.  “Do you think Lincoln would have approved of us here?  Eh, you temptress?  Would you like me to wear a top hat?”  He made a hat doffing gesture as he bent the First Lady back, holding her by the waist and balancing her on his thigh.  Just then, Johnson head of POTUS detail walked in.
                “Oh, sorry Sir.  Ma’am...” he said.
                Mr. and Mrs. Potus separated, stood apart and adjusted their clothes into a more professional straightness.
                Johnson cleared his throat and said, “Sir, whenever you are ready...”
                “Yes, yes,” said Potus and he pecked Mrs. Potus on the cheek chastely.  “See you at lunch,” and then in a stage whisper added, “First Lady.”
                The First Lady blushed and covered her mouth while she smiled.
                “Johnson, let’s go,” Potus said as he walked out of the room.
                “Yes Sir,” Johnson said and followed.
                As they were walking down the hallway, Potus turned conspiratorially to Johnson.  “Thank you for taking care of the roses for me,” he said.
                “No problem Sir, that’s what we do.”
                “I really appreciate it.  February is always a hard time for me; I hate the whole Valentine’s Day commercialism.  Who even invented roses for Valentine’s Day?  It makes no sense!”
                “I agree,” Johnson said distractedly.  He lifted his cuff to his hand and said, “Seven ninety eight, Turkey in the North Fridge.”
                “What’s all that nonsense you keep jabbering?”
                “That’s classified,” Johnson said.
                They reached the end of the hallway next to an elevator where two guards stood.  Potus saluted, and they responded.  It was always a bit crowded with the six or eight people waiting for the elevator.  Potus rocked on his heels and balls of his feet, swinging his arms a bit.  He started whistling a little tune as he usually did when he was a bit nervous.
                “Heyo boy, watch out now, they’ll chew you up,” he muttered.
                “I’m sorry?” Johnson turned and asked.
                “Ah, nothing.  It’s just a song.”
                Johnson tilted his head and put his hand to his right ear.
                “Come again?”
                “Just a song.  I think it’s from the eighties.”
                “Two forty nine.  Roger.”
                “Oh, you weren’t talking to me?” Potus asked.
                “Sorry Sir?”
                “Man Eater!  That’s the song!”
                “Yes.  Ok.”
                “Watch boys she’ll chew you up,” Potus sang off-key.
                The other Secret Service agents shuffled their feet and stared at the ground, the walls, and the elevator doors.  There was a mildly uncomfortable pause while Potus hummed under his breath.
One of the guards on the left side of the elevator doors spoke up, “Sir!  I believe that’s Hall and Oates!”
Potus nodded appreciatively and jabbed the guard’s shoulder.  “You’re right!  Daryl Hall and John Oates.  Well done!”
The guard beamed and everyone laughed appreciatively, relieved to remember the song.  They waited a while more for the elevator to arrive.  Finally the door opened and everyone bolted for the entrance, uncomfortably trying to squeeze inside the ancient elevator.
As they descended, Potus hummed under his breath, rocking on his feet.  One of the Secret Service agents on his right half-sung under his breath, “Whoa, whoa here she comes.”
Another Secret Service agent continued, “Watch out boy...”
Johnson turned around from his position in front and made a hacking motion across his neck.  The two agents suddenly went silent.
Potus hummed and could not help himself: “Watch out boy she’ll chew you up!”
Johnson turned forward and stared at the elevator doors.  Potus cleared his throat and tried to calm his nerves.  The doors opened and they contingent of Potus and Secret Service detail filed out into the hallway.

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