Tuesday, October 23, 2012

THE GREAT DEBATE, Parts I, II, and III

I had a Navy Blue sports coat and the Worlds Biggest tie.
My partner wore a Marigold miniskirt and White Stockings with a seam up the back. The type stockings that make the legs look kind of blue on the edges, a sort of Doppler effect.
Her name was Kathy, with a K, and she wore a blouse with Peaches on it. Like most Kathy's, with a K, , she had great breasts, and when she wore that blouse there were these two really well placed Peaches, and when I was stoned I always had to ask myself if the designer had done that on purpose.
I wonder that to this day.
Kathy was my partner on the Debate Team.

We had two shoeboxes filled with index cards that we carried with us into our first debate. One held cards with quotations and information about our case, otherwise known as "The Affirmative", which was our answer to "The Resolution":
"Resolved: The United States of America should significantly change the method of selecting and electing Presidential and Vice-presidential Candidates"...
Resolved being the topic adopted by the UIL for High Schools throughout America for the 74/75 season, it was part of the aftermath of impeaching Nixon. It also was the most Scholarly thing I have ever attempted to do.

The second shoebox was filled with index cards for the Negative. That is, after our opponents presented their Affirmative case on what to do about the scumbags in Washington, we were to pull index cards with quotations, facts and figures in order to rebut, destroy and make nonsense of the affirmatives case. As I was to find out, this is a difficult, pressure filled thing to do.

Sitting behind the table at the front of the classroom on the day of our first Debate, I took note of my suroundings. There was the Chalkboard with Eisteinian equations, there was a Periodic Chart of the Elements, a poster of Madam Curie or Ethel Merman in some Movie, I couldn't quite tell. There was a chart of the 10 rules for Chemlab.

There was a machine my math teacher had brought to my own classroom one day called a "computer" that you fed "Data". I had gotten sent to the office for asking if his newborn son had learned to say 'Data" yet, while predicting the ultimate failure of this "piece of ca-ca*"

It was a Math and Chemistry Room and I flunked both of those classes.
When you say "let x=y" I can't comprehend it. It strikes me as being most unfair, and to both of them. But I do believe in Alchemy. Thats part of why I flunked Chemistry twice, but thats another story.

And then the were the three judges siitng in front of me. The first was a dust dry little old lady with those CatGlasses, attached with a chain that ran around her neck that allowed them to rest on her bosom until she put them back on to take a long critical look at me. I nodded and gave my best Eddie Haskel smile to her, but she took them off with a disdainful look, seemed to shiver a bit and went back to chewing her gums** and reading "The Grape Gaspy" or something She wore support stockings amd Army Boots...no....Granny Shoes and I imagine she had a really bad case of varicose veins.
Yes, she had blue helmet hair.

The second judge was a studious looking middle aged man and completely unremarkable. Sometimes the most you can say about someone is that they are unremarkable. Bald or with hair, necktie or no, bearded, cleanshaven or in blackface, this guy would not get your attention even if he were barebeamed and buck naked. He looked like the kind of guy that kept a diary of every nonevent that occurred during his livelong day. Cut out articles from the Student Newspaper and latest hobby would be "Paint by Numbers".

But the third judge, well....
He was young, cool looking and dressed smartly. The shirt was solid colored, Deep Purple I believe, , except for the collars and cuffs, which were white. On the corners of the collar, was a tiny little embroided Carrot, and the Green top of the Carrot fairly resembled a stylized Marijuana leaf. He had hair longer than mine, and droopy eyelids, but his eyes flashed a certain brilliance that I was sure went brain deep. He had on Brown corduroy pants, and they were tucked into Buckshin knee boots . around his neck was a leather strap holding a little leather Medicine bag. He looked like a cross between Zonker and Mingo.

I looked at him and he gave me me a backwards nod, you know, not one where he dips his head towards you, but rather tosses his head back a touch.
Then he went back to looking at his copy of 'Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail" while stealing furtive glances ay Kathy's Peaches.
                                     ********************

Years later, a friend of mine in the fashion industry told me Kathy’s blouse with the Peaches was deliberately tailored that way.
Duly noted.

******************

PART TWO
"Sweat and Underwear"


Now Kathy was a nice girl, and I was lucky to be her Debate Team partner.
Later in the Debate season, Kathy and I actually would actually win a Debate Tournament when I used Dick Gregory's analogy comparing electing a president to choosing a whore. I had argued that:
"After all, no matter how many candidates are running, or whores you have to choose from, they are still all whores".
It came to be known in our club as "Steve's Great Whore Case”.
The first time I used that line, Kathy put her face to the desk covering her head in shame.
Kathy did that a lot.
But we were both surprised that the Judges seemed to favor this rebuttal of attempts by our opponents wanting to change the Two Party Political system.

But back to our first Debate.

Kathy and I waited with the three Judges and our two shoeboxes filled with index cards with facts and figures, information and quotes, seated at a table for the arrival of our opponents.

It was our Debating debut and we were nervous. Not only was the subject of Campaign Election Reform complicated and new to us, but we weren’t very organized.

Even today, the kids down at Blockbuster Movies shudder when I walk in the door because they know I can’t find shit in there. They use a System of putting the movies in alphabetical order, but they also have categories like New Releases, Drama, Comedy, and Action. Oh yeah, there is a Horror section too. These categories, to me, are quite subjective. One man’s action movie is another man’s drama and so on and so forth.

I think the movies should all be under one category.
“Sweat and Underwear”
That’s what everything all boils down to anyway.

But back to the debate….and our opponents entrance.
They carried Gold Plated Briefcases, Rolodex files, and had a Desktop name tag made from Etched Glass that read:

Ignacio and Nicholas
Jesuit Preparatory Academy

They were wearing Red Bow-Ties and Coal Black Double Breasted suits with the School Crest blazoned on the pocket.

They placed all this high tech debating equipment on their half of the table, glanced pitifully at our shoeboxes, went and shook hands with the three judges and returned to the table, standing “at ease”, hands clasped behind their straight backs to face Kathy and I.
It was enough to make me stop my slouching, and sit straight up in my seat.

But the most intimidating thing about this was not the Jackets, the Bow Ties and Breifcases, or even the Glass Placard that gave them the look of O.J. Simpsons Defense Team.

It wasn't even the Rolodex files that I was sure were filled with more and better facts, figures and quotations than our shoeboxes, or the fact that they would actually be able to find the card they needed when they needed it that made me queasy...

It was the fact that our opponents could not have been more that 12 years old.
The biggest one was about 85 pounds, soaking wet. My kid sister coulda' broke him in two.
The smaller one was no bigger than a minute.
They were lap babies and they were about to kick our ass.

Kathy looked at me. She was goggle-eyed like you wouldn’t believe, and she had turned white as a sheet.
Kathy was a good kid, but I knew she was shook, so I leaned over and whispered to her:
‘Man, we are in the shit now”
and gave her my best grin.
But inside I was all sweat and underwear.

*****************

PART THREE
"Who wants Red Lobster?"

Our 13 year old, pre-pubescent , never-kissed-a-girl-or-squeezed-a-titty opponents were about to kick our ass. They opened their gilded briefcases and began their case. They were the Affirmative which moved towards Election Reform.
Just 60 days prior, Nixon had resigned as President. Slush Funds, CREEP (Committee for the Re-election of the President) and Watergate had become words even a 4th grader was familiar with.

The House and Senate in Washington were debating the same topic as Kathy and I and all the other High Schools. Election Reform was prominent in the country's consciousness. Looking back, I did not realize at the time how cool it was to be role playing (if not playing a role) in this issue.

Bear with me here.

The centerpiece of our opponents case was to take all donations for each party and put them in a big pool, then distribute those funds equally through a General Accounting Office. The hope was to eliminate secret contributions, illegal donations, and make certain no one would gain a monetary edge.

As our counterparts gave their presentation, Kathy and I scrambled frantically through our shoeboxes, looking for facts figures and information with which to refute their case.
We had determined that I was to go first to present my 5 minute rebuttal.
On shaky legs, I stood up.

Who watched the Biden/Ryan debate?
What they do up there is really hard to do, especially for a High School kid, but the 85 pound 13 year old (with the Paul Ryan hairline) that led off was like William F'n Buckley.
It was either Nicolas, or Ignacio, it didn't really matter.
His presentation was flawless.

Why I had joined the debate team I didn't know at that moment. I was born to be a Chef.
The room seemed to be spinning around me, my knees were about to buckle and it sounded like sand was pouring into my ears. I wanted to crawl under a rock.  So I cleared my throat and began:
"I need a moment to get my shit together."
Yep, that's what I said.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kathy pound her forehead into the table and cover herself with her hands, and from under her tousled blonde hair an audible moan escaped.

Motivated by shame and with a sense of pity towards my partner, I finally began to speak. I don't recall what I said, I was dizzy and having an out-of-body experience up there. But suddenly, the smell of Kathy's perfume was replaced by the faint scent of apples.
Like I said, I was born to be a Chef, and I could smell apples.

As I spoke, the apple smell grew stronger. I looked to our opponents. I saw in their opened briefcases they each had a small Brown Paper bag.

With this new visual input, my senses heightened and I began to detect a faint but unmistakable smell of Tuna, and then Roast Beef on Rye, and even a Hostess Twinkie.
OMG! Their Momma had packed their lunches!

And then an idea hit me like someone had dropped the Watergate Hotel on my head, with Haldeman, Dean and Mitchell all tumbling down, and CREEP members and Secret Cash funds all spilling out...I knew I had to find a way out of that shoebox. It was killing me, but I sensed an opportunity..
Right in the middle of my rebuttal, I came to a complete stop and looked down at Kathy.

I said:
"Kathy, how much money do you have?"
She looked at me all confused and I gave her that "Just Tell Me " look and she reached for her purse and said "I think I got $4"

"Four dollars?" I said while pulling out my billfold. "Thats fine Kathy, just put it there on the center of the table, and I'll put my two dollars with it..."

I was gaining some momentum here. I turned to my counterparts and said...

"Nick, Iggy, how much do you boys have?
They looked at each other and started to reach for their wallets.
I continued...
"No, don't bother to get up, you don't need to put your money in the General Fund here. We will just pretend that you have...oh...$10...so that gives us $16 in the General Fund. You betcha. Now, I see you boys brought your own lunch, probably Tuna on Wheat and Roast Beef on Rye, and that can be your vote..."


At this point they were lookin' at me like I was Kreskin because I knew exactly what they had in their little lunch bags. I was born to be a chef.
I was on a roll, and all the way out of that shoebox full of index cards.

"...But Kathy and I, dog-gone-it, we are voting for Red Lobster and we are going to take our half of the GAO fund which includes ya'lls $10. Now I know what you boys are thinkin'... that we aren't going to get much at Red Lobster for $8, and you are right. But clearly, as I am about to show, your case does nothing to stop Secret and Illegal Campaign donations"

I pulled my billfold back out and and produced the Twenty Dollar bill that Dad had taught me to keep tucked away for emergencies. With a dramatic flourish, I held it high.

"But I just happen to have a little 'Slush Fund of my own, and now not only do we have enough for Kathy and I to eat like Kings, we have enough to take two of these three judges with us.
So, who wants RED LOBSTER?"

Like I keep sayin', I was born to be a Chef.

I sat down. Kathy was beaming.
My opponents spent their next 15 minutes arguing against my convoluted case, while Kathy drilled holes in theirs.
We won our first Debate!

Here, Richard Nixon presents me with my Debate Trophy!

4 comments:

AnitaNH said...

You almost convinced me with that photo for a minute there, however...

http://www.elvisblog.net/2008/10/05/variations-on-an-iconic-photo-elvis-meets-nixon/

bulletholes said...

Why is my picture not at that site? Hi Nita!

Inspector Clouseau said...

Very entertaining and insightful.

bulletholes said...

insprector, did you really read the whole thing? I married 3 parts together, just to see what I had.
It meanders along maybe a bit too much.