Cardella in Wonderland

I found my­self fol­low­ing what I thought was a white rab­bit, but really was a wrap­per with a half-eaten slice of an in­side-out pizza that mi­ra­cu­lously blew in­to a trash con­tain­er near the re­cre­ation cen­ter in my neigh­bor­hood.

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(Just had to share a night­mare I had the oth­er night after watch­ing three hours of Sunday news shows on TV).

I found my­self fol­low­ing what I thought was a white rab­bit, but really was a wrap­per with a half-eaten slice of an in­side-out pizza that mi­ra­cu­lously blew in­to a trash con­tain­er near the re­cre­ation cen­ter in my neigh­bor­hood. When I got to the bot­tom of the trash con­tain­er, I found my­self hurt­ling through a dark tun­nel that seemed to go on forever like a pres­id­en­tial cam­paign that nev­er ends.

I woke to find my­self in the middle of a press con­fer­ence. Nev­er had I been en­gulfed in so much hair­spray in my life. Cough­ing and sput­ter­ing, I heard the angry sounds of an aroused me­dia. The re­port­ers, all of whom looked like Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, were jump­ing up and down and stamp­ing their feet. Their an­ger was dir­ec­ted at the White House Press Sec­ret­ary, Sam Spicy. Spicy wore a cheap suit (Is Robert Hall still in busi­ness?) and emit­ted a strong smell of Jade East. It is rumored that Spicy is not Sam’s real name, but a nick­name that was pinned on him in child­hood be­cause of his ob­ses­sion with oregano.

Spicy is ac­cus­ing me of dis­tort­ing the truth, at­tempt­ing to del­e­git­im­ize the new pres­id­ent and cheat­ing on my ex­pense ac­count. In ad­di­tion, Spicy is angry be­cause I laughed at the length of the pres­id­ent’s made-in-China tie. Fade to black. I wake up in­ter­view­ing Kel­ly­anne Con­niver. Con­niver tells me that she has been named to the pres­id­ent’s cab­in­et as the Min­is­ter of Un­truth.

I ask Kel­ly­anne why the new pres­id­ent has named people to head the very agen­cies they want to des­troy. She ac­cuses me of lack­ing a sense of hu­mor. When I try to fol­low-up, she changes the sub­ject and com­plains that I de­lib­er­ately un­der­es­tim­ated the crowd size at the pres­id­ent’s re­cent in­aug­ur­a­tion. She also ac­cuses me of de­lib­er­ately un­der­es­tim­at­ing the pres­id­ent’s vote count, as well as un­der­es­tim­at­ing the size of his hands and private parts. When I show her proof that my es­tim­ates are cor­rect in every re­spect, she tells me about the concept of “al­tern­at­ive facts.” Ap­par­ently in Won­der­land, which is the name of where I find my­self, they not only cel­eb­rate un­birth­days, but un­facts as well. I love Kel­ly­anne’s per­petu­al smile.  She mer­rily wishes me a very “Happy Un­birth­day.”  “The Earth is flat,” she de­clares after the pres­id­ent has just signed an ex­ec­ut­ive or­der to prove it. When I protest, she simply says, “Un­fact” and runs off.  

I chase after her. All through Won­der­land, I see build­ings bear­ing the name of the new Pres­id­ent. I real­ize that everything bears his name, bridges, street signs, even man­hole cov­ers. I even see his name on food such as steak, pur­i­fied wa­ter, and everything that’s fried.

On every street corner, there are im­ages of the new pres­id­ent. All these im­ages have been covered with ob­scene quotes from Madonna. I see cit­izens of Won­der­land walk­ing along the street. Their hair and faces are or­ange. Over my shoulder, I see Kel­ly­anne dis­ap­pear in­to a lib­rary. I fol­low her.

Once in­side, I look every­where but I can’t find her. There is a meet­ing go­ing on in the lib­rary and I’m told cit­izens are re­ceiv­ing in­struc­tions on the mean­ing and use of the word “ex­ag­ger­a­tion.” The new Pres­id­ent is a big fan (make that a huge fan) of the use of ex­ag­ger­a­tion. Here­after through the king­dom of Won­der­land, every­one will ex­ag­ger­ate. Everything pos­it­ive is “ter­rif­ic,” the “greatest,” and the “best.” Things or people that we don’t like will be re­ferred to as the “worst.” I fade to black again, and when I wake up, I find my­self fa­cing a draft board headed by the head of the Amer­ic­an Fed­er­a­tion of Tele­vi­sion and Ra­dio Artists.

“You have been draf­ted num­ber one,” the of­fi­cial tells me. I’m ec­stat­ic (not just happy) be­cause be­ing draf­ted num­ber one means that I will earn bushels of money and (if my wife al­lows me) get a date with Ri­hanna. But I find out that this is not that kind of draft. The White House has got­ten Con­gress to is­sue a de­clar­a­tion of war against the me­dia. And I’m first in the draft lot­tery.

I’m to re­port to a me­dia army be­ing raised by CNN. I’m in the in­fantry un­der Gen. An­der­son Cooper and am quickly is­sued a uni­form bear­ing a pic­ture of Ted Turn­er. I scream that I’m en­titled to a de­fer­ment be­cause I’m every bit as un­qual­i­fied as the new pres­id­ent and former Vice Pres­id­ent Dick Cheney, both of whom re­ceived five de­fer­ments. Fail­ing to get a de­fer­ment, I ask for a cushy as­sign­ment away from the front lines where I can lie like Bri­an Wil­li­ams and per­haps (if my wife al­lows me — even in my dreams I ask per­mis­sion) have an in­tim­ate re­la­tion­ship with Maur­een Dowd. In my sor­did past, I ad­mit­tedly used to vis­it an at­tract­ive lib­rar­i­an-pros­ti­tute with whom I dis­cussed Ein­stein’s The­ory of Re­lativ­ity. Our af­fair ended when we ar­gued over wheth­er MC was really squared and wheth­er po­lar bears have any kind of fu­ture. 

I awoke from my night­mare be­fore I found out how the war between the me­dia and the White House ended. I sus­pect the me­dia lost be­cause I find my­self in pris­on where there is a TV with no premi­um chan­nels.


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You can reach at tcardella@southphillyreview.com.