The first time I met John Boehner, after winning that special election to replace the late Nathan Malkin and rushing down to Washington to do a job for which I was little prepared (but very eager), was a revelation. For one thing, I hadn’t suspected a new Democratic arrival would be summoned to meet the leader of the Republican majority. I guess I’d forgotten he was speaker of THE HOUSE, of which I was now a part (I’m a redundant support beam). Sometimes, to be quite honest, it seems like HE forgets.

But I was welcomed — it was an orientation of sorts — into a room wherein he, in friendly but perfunctory manner, introduced himself while, mostly, paying attention to his personal activities. I don’t think he even looked at me, but then, he was also doing something he considered more important. He was painting himself, while we talked, with a viscous, orange/brown lacquer of some kind, using (I was surprised to note) a long wooden stick, like a back scratcher, but with a small brush on the end in lieu of etched fingers of bamboo.

I wasn’t interested in wasting time there anyway. I know this was something like an enlisted man fraternizing with a lady officer in the military, but I had arranged a date, in a cluttered janitorial closet in the bowels of The Capitol, with Mary Landrieu.


It may have been labeled a janitorial closet but the space, neither on the Senate side of the building nor physically beholden to the House, contained little in the way of cleaning supplies. Truth be told, it could easily have served as a Coney Island appetizing shop. ‘Neath our toes was a multi-layered collection of discarded condoms dating back to the mid, perhaps late, 1850s. They appeared to be made of lace or bustle material and merely looking at them made the memory of Grandma’s doilies yelp with dormant entendres that had just about given up on being heard.

I suppose the shoe-level forest of petrified protection could have served as a necessary reminder, but I had no need of condoms, not simply because Senator Landrieu had used her last egg at a Loozyana crawdad boil several years earlier but because, in a nod to her marriage and some kind of technical Christian propriety upon which she insisted, remained limited to above the waist contact.

My mind wandered to Steny Hoyer’s root beer.

What kind of a name is Steny, anyway? I suppose I could ask him. Or Google it. For some reason, I experience it as a diminution of something Greek.

I don’t know him very well, but I see him as Joe Biden’s tougher brother, the guy who beat up the kids who didn’t fall for the smile. Not that he’s mean, though, just tough. Sometimes, it looks as if he and Jim Clyburn are really working as Nancy Pelosi’s bodyguards. I guess he learned to be that way all those years ago in the rough and tumble sandlot, protecting Joe. That’s the scenario I’ve whipped up, anyhow. I’ve come to think of him as “Uncle Steny.”

He has this tradition of giving each new member of the Democratic caucus a root beer in each of the member’s first thirty days. Since I’m the only guy in his first thirty days, all of Uncle Steny’s ice cold root beer, complete with properly bent straws, comes to me, in great, longneck, Mexican-style bottles, made, I’ll bet, with real sugar. I don’t even know if they have root beer in Mexico, but if they do, Uncle Steny probably got several cases as a thank you gift back when NAFTA kicked in and has carefully doled them out to new members ever since. This would be unimaginable if the recipient were, say, Utah Senator Mike Lee. who’d hole up in his quarters and plow, alone, through every bottle in every case. They’d find him several days later, dead in his rooming house, lying in a pool of his own carbonation.

Nah. Probably he’d save one bottle for his besty, Rafael Cruz, which would serve as the wafer thin mint he never had, preventing his expulsive demise. Oh, to have such a pal as Rafael, just down from Canada, who can sit at the uncool table with you, pretending better than you ever could that the cool kids’ table was full of losers and your table was the place to eat mayonnaise-laden peanut butter sandwiches just like real Americans do.


I refocused on the Louisiana senator’s breasts.

It seems Ms. Landrieu’s desire to employ rituals that limited any sense she may have been cheating, in the eyes of God, her husband or the press, had led her to add another dimension to the above the waist rule. She did not entirely remove her shirt, merely loosening it to allow access. Her breasts remained, if gently, sheathed.

I can’t say I hated this.

An avid explorer of natural caverns and ardent admirer of blindmen, I enjoyed the carnal braille spelunking aspect of these explorations. And I’ll be eternally grateful her ass was exempted from the lower reaches prohibition as it would be sad to be in a closet with someone whose father was named Moon and not get to touch her ass. Nevertheless, when she got called to a vote, I was ready to move on.

I needed to get back to New York to attend my first “town hall” meeting, which was scaring me.