Pondering the I-word

By Kris Ferrazza | Aug 16, 2019

To date, I feel I’ve spent too many hours of my summer vacation watching Congress in action, or should I say, inaction. I’ve listened to hours and hours of candidate debates, committed long mornings and afternoons to committee testimony, and read all the news that was fit to print.

All the while I was waiting for something to happen. Forgive my frustration, but in my day, there was a lot less talk and a lot more action. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about the I-word: impeachment.

Now I’m no expert in politics, but my own political career started early, like around grade five. That’s when I was elected to serve as vice president of my class. I don't remember exactly how it came about, but somehow my name ended up on the ballot and I was chosen to be VP. Our class president was my little friend, Gary.

Gary and I were thick as thieves. He would come over to my house each day after school, but not until 4 p.m., because first he had to go home and watch his favorite television show at 3 p.m. It was an afternoon sci-fi program, and was an integral part of young Gary’s life.

My father questioned Gary’s motives early on, wondering aloud who this boy was and what he wanted with his eldest daughter. I assured my dad he was harmless.

I explained that we were learning to dance in physical education class, and Gary wanted to waltz in the backyard. So after watching his favorite afternoon program, he would rush to my house, take my hand, and waltz me around on the lawn in my backyard until dinnertime.

But I digress. Back to politics. Gary was the Barack Obama to my Joe Biden. I was his ride-or-die bestie, and he was mine, and eventually we ruled grade five as a benevolent king and queen. He was commander-in-chief and I was his second in command.

We presided over our tiny school with pride. I don't remember ever holding any meetings with a cabinet, teachers or the student body. We never made any actual decisions or lobbied to change school policies, but we did feel important and all-powerful over our classmates.

Life was good until one fateful day when our perfect little political world came crashing down around us. Word got out that Gary and his family were taking a trip to Florida. Since he would have to miss school, our teacher assigned him to keep a journal about his travels and all the fun he was having at Disney World. This was in lieu of all of the classwork and homework he would miss. Needless to say, the student body rose up in revolt.

No sooner had our president left for vacation than his constituents turned on him. Boys who never paid attention to anything in class suddenly awoke like sleeping giants. They grumbled and mumbled things like "no homework — no justice" and started calling for Gary's impeachment. The notion caught on and spread like wildfire.

As we were studying government, our teacher used the controversy as a "teachable moment.” She explained in detail the process for removing a president from office for misconduct. Clearly Gary was unfit, his opponents argued. Who would leave his class for a whole week, skipping school for fun in the sun at the happiest place on earth while we toiled away in the trenches?

Naturally, I feared the worst for my absent friend. I tried to reassure the riled electorate, insisting this did not rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, but they were not having it. My handlers assured me it would be OK. In fact, for me it would be better than OK, because as vice president, I would replace him, they said.

As the tribunal rapidly approached, I was torn. On the one hand, I was hungry for power and knew this could be my chance at the big-time. On the other hand, I felt loyal to my buddy, who by that time was most likely waltzing down Main Street, USA, singing "It's A Small World." Oh, if only he knew.

Our principal, Mr. Williams, whom we seldom saw up close, came into our classroom one day and explained what it meant to impeach someone. This brought a new gravity to the situation. He said after thorough discussion, we would be asked to vote.

I felt queasy, and almost sure of what the outcome would be. In the end, the vote was unanimous to impeach Gary. I abstained, thinking it would be unseemly to sell out my former running mate (and dance partner).

When Gary returned, looking tan and rested, the other students couldn’t wait to break the good news that he no longer was class president. My friend was stunned. I stood on the sidelines, wracked with guilt, as he sat down at his desk, head down, sniffling quietly.

That marked the end of our friendship, and fortunately I changed schools the following year. As time passed, I often wondered what became of my political pal. Years later, as fate would have it, I stepped onto an elevator at the University of Maine. A lanky punk-rocker stood in the corner. I spied his mohawk and safety pin piercings and claimed the other corner for myself. As I watched the floor numbers change on the elevator panel I felt his eyes on me.

Finally he spoke: “Kris. Ferrazza.”

I froze. Did I know this character?

“Yes?” I said.

“You don’t remember me,” he said. I detected a teasing tone in his voice that was so familiar.

And then it hit me. I knew that voice. And that face. It was Gary.

We had a happy two-minute reunion, embraced and then went our separate ways. I’d like to say we shared a quick waltz for old time’s sake, but we didn’t. It was 3 p.m. and he had to run. I suspect his favorite TV show was about to begin.

And the beat goes on.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Aug 16, 2019 11:57

Wonderful! Made me laugh at the end!



If you wish to comment, please login.