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59 David Sherman The National Picnic Nothing went right at the national picnic. First, the president was late and forgot the cole-slaw. Then the secretary of defense lost at armwrestling , putting him in a foul mood. My wife mentioned that the ribs were underdone, and everyone seemed to blame her, as if reporting a problem were the same as creating it - everyone gets so defensive at these things. The several citizens started a football game and asked Congress to play. Congress played badly, then lost interest, its members wandering over to the dessert table between plays. It was an overcast day and the grass was sticky with something. A few cabinet members got drunk and sang old songs and started laughing at everyone; it got embarrassing when they started taking off their pants. Members of the press stood around the food table and commented on its quality, debating the reasons that the president didn't bring cole-slaw. A few fights broke out. Five supreme court justices flew kites, loaning the strings to little kids who watched. The other four tried to start a game of charades but could only interest a think-tank or two, not a good idea. A lot of people just sat around 60 the minnesota review looking at the douds as if they might return one more time to the barbecue, but knowing there was no need, since digestion was already thoroughly underway, and hoping a bathroom was nearby. The president, of course, was among them, drowsy and a little bored, curious about what might happen next. He was one of the people. ...


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