Bob Rut and Billy Rucker were having what they liked to call an American tea party.
They sat in the dimly lit living room watching TV, as they drank whiskey straight from the bottle.
Bob sat on the couch, pants unbuttoned, belly bulging over his belt, cigarette in one hand, bottle of whiskey in the other. He was reading the warning label on Billy's pack of cigarettes.
"I don't get it. How in the hell can cigarettes be bad for your health if most of it comes from a plant?"
"Plant?" Billy sat across from him on the living room recliner. He held the remote.
"Tobacco comes from a plant, Billy. And plants come from the earth. And everyone knows that anything that comes from the Earth is natural. And anything that's natural is harmless. Just ask Rush Limbaugh."
"You may be onto something there."
"You know what I think?
"I think the government's lying to us, Billy."
Billy nodded his head in agreement.
"And what's this talk about universal health care? We don't need universal health care. We're doing just fine without it. The United States of America just ain't supposed to be united, plain and simple."
They watched as the blond white lady from News Channel 8 announced the nation's unemployment rate. It had skyrocketed to a whopping nine percent.
"We need to solve this economic crisis."
"You're telling me? I got fired today."
"What? What happened?"
"Boss found porn on my work computer."
"Damn. You know the country's headed straight for the shitter when you get canned for having porn on your computer."
"Maybe I'll file a lawsuit," Bob said.
"Against who? Work?"
"I was trying to get to Google and instead my computer took me to Booble. Got my g's and b's mixed up."
"Not your fault." Billy picked up the remote and began searching for something good to watch. "Damn keyboard."
"You're right. It's not my fault. It's whoever gave Google its name's fault." "How'd he see it?"
"He just happened to walk by when the page pulled up."
"No warning or anything?"
"Nope. Not this time. Told me to clean out my desk. "
And for a while they sat in silence. No talking was allowed during Survivorman.
Next commercial, Bob spoke. "We're in a mess, that's for sure. What this country needs is someone with brains. Someone who's smart, but doesn't overthink everything. Fixing a recession shouldn't be that god damn complicated."
"I hear you."
"All this blame talk. It makes me think. I wanna know who's responsible for this."
"For the economy the way it is. As an American, we have a right -- no, make that a duty, to know who screwed us over."
"We're gonna do it, Billy. We have to. No one else will, so why the hell not? We're gonna fix this country, figure out a plan-- before the night's over."
"As soon as Survivorman's done," said Billy and Bob nodded in agreement. Survivorman was having a back to back special.
But as it turned out there would be no second Survivorman that night. Instead President Barack Obama came onto the screen: address from the Oval Office. "You've got to be kidding me!" and with that Billy chucked the remote at the television.
After it was all said and done, it was apparent that the remote was fine. It landed on the floor after it hit the screen, but the AA batteries were worse for the wear as they had been evacuated from the remote mid air.
"Now, look what you did!" Bob said, throwing his hands up in the air. "There goes watching TV. Thanks to you and that damn remote, we're forced to watch this boring shit."
It hadn't occurred to them that there were knobs on the television to change the channel. Perhaps they'd forgotten about them. Perhaps they didn't know what the esoteric gadgets we call buttons actually did.
Neither did it occur to them to put the batteries back in the remote.
But then again that too would involve getting up off the couch, bringing them right back to square one.
"The transition away from fossil fuels will take some time, but over the last year and a half; we have already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry," Barack Obama was saying.
"I see his mouth moving...I hear him, but I don't understand what he's saying," said Bob. "It's like he's speaking a different language."
"He's Muslim, Bob. He's of Middle Eastern descent. He can speak Iraqi. Fun fact for the day."
"He uses words that I ain't never even heard of.
"Which one? Unprecedented?"
"Yea, that one too."
Billy was staring at the screen in disbelief. "Unbelievable. Unemployment rate of nine percent and he wants to talk wind?"
"I'll give him wind." And Bob lifted his butt cheek and let out a fart.
Billy slapped his knee and guffawed, and he began choking on his pretzel he had shoveled into his mouth.
"I could've sworn I just felt the whole couch vibrate, Bill," and he laughed too oblivious to the fact that Billy was in fact, choking.
(Lucky for Billy, Bob got very touchy feely with his hands when he was speaking about something he felt passionate about and he gave Billy a hard slap on the back, and the piece of pretzel flew out from his mouth.)
"He's with them -- the terrorizers," Bob said. "And you know what they say. If you're not with us, you're against us. The Middle East is the root of all problems and the root of all evil! And that makes Obama the problem."
Bob sat motionless for a while, his beer bottle stagnant between his legs. "How to fix our country -- what color do you think Obama is, Billy?" he said. He pointed to the screen. "I mean, really? He's not black. But he's not white either."
"I've often wondered that too," Billy said. "It's hard to say. There are a lotta shades. You've got your dark brown, light brown, red brown --"
"He's definitely not red-brown."
"Well, if he blushes...."
"It's almost an Indian color. For all we know, he could've been born in India."
"Nope? How do you know?
"Saw his birth certificate. Dunno if it's legit though."
"Where'd you get it?"
"You know it's legit if it comes from Wikipedia. Jesus, Billy! Everyone knows that."
"S'pose you're right. After all, it does have 'edia at the end of it. You know, like encyclopedia."
By this time, they had finished off more whiskey bottles than they could count on their fingers and toes combined.
Several hours passed. They sat around. Then they sat around some more.
By this time they could barely lift their alcoholic beverages to their mouth. And when they managed to get them up to their mouths, most of it ended up on their shirts.
A bib for alcoholics would have been a clever invention.
"Was there something we were supposed to do? You know? Before the end of the night?"
"I dunno," and he attempted a final swig of whiskey. "If we were, must've not have been very important. Whatever it is, it can wait till tomorrow."
"I'm passing out now. Goodnight."
And so they did. The both of them.
They wouldn't remember anything in the morning, but they had made some groundbreaking conclusions.
Barack Obama's skin color was a mixture between the shade of gravy and Nutella peanut butter... a hybrid of light brown.
And afterward something miraculous had happened. Something so miraculous in fact that Bob announced right away he was going to write an editorial. For a revelation came to them sometime between 1:00 and 1:04 a.m. during a commercial break.
If anyone could turn this country around, it would be this guy.
It had been a productive night.
And one hell of a tea party.
Follow Kari Gremore on Twitter: www.twitter.com/karigremore