Hey Joe—Smilin’ Joe ... Grinnin’ Joe ... Simperin’ Joe ... Sniggerin’ Joe—what up with the dents, gent? They kept snappin’ like a pair o’ bitin’ teeth. I mean, I know it’s almost Halloween, but it was no treat to watch, I gotta tell ya: I kept thinkin’ my eyes were playin’ tricks. That whole time you were up there a-yakkin’ I was terrified they were gonna chomp Raddatz’s head off—that is, if yer pointer finger didn’t poke her eye out first. And why didn’t ya just go ahead and shank the “malarkey” out-a yer “friend” there, while ya had the chance, what with that weird “SHIV-pen ritual” ya had goin’, clutchin’ yer Bic in yer grip like Jimi’s gun, whirlin’ yer fingers all around like Moe Howard doin’ his cranky hand jive? (Bap-bap-bap-bap POKE!)
And don’t even get me started on the tan, man. Some impish sprite somewhere must-a screwed a Crayola Burnt Orange crayon to the sandblaster and opened fire on yer jack-o’-lantern face. And the eye tuck? Talk about Squintin’ Clint! Dude, when ya were flashin’ those bridges to nowhere, yer freakin’ eyes flatlined! It was eerie as all get-out! I kept expectin’ Martha to lean over and shock ‘em back open—ya know, just to make sure you were still in there. Scary.
And really, I’m startin’ to wonder about ya, Joe. Is there somethin’ you’re not tellin’ me? I mean, have ya had some sort of cerebral ... accident, er whut? Are ya gittin’ sentimental in your dotage? That cornball hoof-in-black hole tendency ‘o yers aside, are ya just plain lustin’ for yer youth, ol’ boy—Irish Joe, “Bunch-o’-Stuff” Joe? Is that what it is?
Cuz I’m thinkin’ maybe you’re tipplin’ jiiiist a wee bit deep into the danger zone, what with that whole spin-the-yarn shtick/schlock ya kept tryin’ to pull: Dr. Kraut Hammer might well and truly call it “The Whippershnapper Syndrome.” I mean, put yourself in my shoes: watchin’ ya up there, gittin’ all excited, gittin’ yer knickers all in a wad, I kept wonderin’ what in the heck ya were really gittin’—like, ya know, maybe the hots?—for young Ryan’s “privates,” if ya know what I mean? Kraut’s honor: it did look like ya were startin’ to squirm. I mean, enough already with this exaggerated “friend” business. I dunno, Joe, but if I were you, I think I’d tone it down. In this day and age, a guy can’t be too careful. I mean, bro: Bromance is in the air! After Queer Eye, well—anything goes. I’m juss sayin’: ya might wanna, ya know, “keep it on the down-low.” (Juss between us.)
But seriously, Joe. Any points ya might-a won on substance ya lost on style. You were just plumb ... smarmy—sick smarmy. And your opponent showed up real clean and presentable—the picture o’ robust health—and real business-like, too: a respectful “young Whippersnapper” in a dark blue suit, shinin’ those bright blue flashlight eyes o’ his, all filled full-a ideas—and I gotta say: he made ya look bad, Joe, real bad, real stale and sour, by comparison. Ya looked old-school. Ya did, Joe, ya just did. And young Ryan? He looked ... well, new—fresh, snappy, crisp, and tailored, kinda like the future: the one we imagine we might have, if you’d just git yer snarky-fart self out-a the way.
For all the public to see, Ryan saved himself—simply by not bein’ you, by bein’ the anti-you, by pullin’ back and lettin’ you smirk yourself to death. Maybe that was his strategy goin’ in. Remain calm, clear and focused; stick to the facts, be polite but firm; and let you destroy yourself—which is, after all, what you do best.
And do it he did. There was one gotcha moment, one zinger, the only line of the night that drew laughter, like yer bleached pearlies drew down the shades. And that belonged to Ryan, Joe—not you. All he had to do was sit back and wait for the right moment to blow. And on cue, like an idiot—ya gave it to him! What were ya doin’ up there, man, besides havin’ a drag party fer one in yer big fat empty-pumpkin head?
The gaffe-laugh trigger? “I think the vice president very well knows that sometimes the words don't come out of your mouth the right way.”
Ya don’t say. Shove ‘em back in, like chewed-up candy. Let’s face it, Joe: ya just don’t cut it anymore, ol’ chum. Unless it’s the cheeze yer talkin’!
Karen Hathaway Pittman is a freelance writer, novelist and poet whose political commentary is widely published on the web. She lives in London, England with her husband and cat. She receives email at firstname.lastname@example.org.