To: All Staff
Re: Big Win!
Unless I’m reading the scorebook incorrectly, your softball team scored 38 runs in two games last night, winning both.
After the game, I had this conversation with President Barack Obama.
POTUS: Coach Fortune, it’s President Obama, how are you, buddy?
CF: Very well, sir. I'm humbled that...
POTUS: Great. Listen, Ed, I didn’t call you to talk about your feelings of humility. The reason I called is that I want you to come work for me on a top secret national security project involving high stakes global espionage against our enemies.
CF: The terrorists?
POTUS: No, the Republicans.
A beat. Is he kidding? Then the president laughs.
POTUS: Yes, Ed, the terrorists. But not just terrorists. Enemies are gathering on all fronts. I need your help.
CF: But why me, sir?
POTUS: We’ve been watching you.
CF: You have?
POTUS: Yes. You remember Bobby the umpire from your game last week?
POTUS: Well, he’s more than just an irascible drunk who calls time out to check his betting slips between blown calls. He’s one of us. He’s a spy.
CF: You don’t say.
POTUS: I do. And we've been testing you.
POTUS: Yes. Remember those blown calls? Those were tests of your ability to manage frustration. Bobby's inability to remember the rules? A test of your memory and negotiating skills. The flatulence?
CF: Another test?
POTUS: Of your ability to endure pain. You see, Ed, we’ve had you under surveillance since last year. You’ve passed every test and now we want you on our team.
CF: But, sir, I can’t just abandon my squad. We’re 6-0, in first place.
POTUS: I thought you might say that so I’ve sweetened the pot. Before you come on board, we’ll throw you a big party at...wait for it...wait...the Playboy mansion.
CF: I heard it smells like piss.
POTUS: And I'll give you a medal. After that, it’s just you and bunnies.
CF: Sir, I’m a married man.
POTUS: Nonsense. Your wife is a patriotic American. I will speak to her personally.
There is a moment of silence on the line. Coach Fortune is impressed. He mulls over the pros: Called to duty by his commander-in-chief, party at the Playboy mansion, a spouse neutered by sweet talk from the president. And then he thinks about the cons.
CF: Sir, I’m going to have to refuse.
POTUS: I’m sorry?
CF: I said, sir, that I can’t do it. I can’t join your top secret team.
POTUS (irritated): Why bloody not?
CF: Because I owe it to the softball squad to see the season through. Sure, I could give that up and abandon my teammates for a life of sexual debauchery and international intrigue, but it wouldn't feel right. I mean, yes, I can imagine three playmates fighting to blow me before I take off in a jetpack, but I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s a matter of loyalty. And where I come from you don’t abandon your team in the middle of the season in the name of…what was it again?
POTUS: Securing your country’s freedom?
CF: Yeah, that. Anyway, the answer is no. It’s softball before all else, sir.
POTUS (resigned): Well, I have to admire your conviction, but I think you’re wrong. I won’t stand in your way, but I want you to do to something for me – and for your country.
CF: What’s that, sir?
POTUS: Just win, baby. The eyes of your countrymen will be on you and your team as you continue this season. And though there may be bumps in the road ahead, savor your victories now, and never stop fighting for yourself, the good of the team, and the United States of America.
CF: Thank you, sir. I will. And let me say to you that…
Click. The president hangs up.
And a valuable lesson in there too, I think.