(Here's a little story I wrote about a couple of honest-to-goodness American heroes - Brett Favre and Arlen Specter. It's purely speculation, but who knows? The two of them could some day be best friends.)
Arlen needed new jeans. His wife was a real pain in the ass to shop with. Who else was there? Maybe Joe? He did live nearby. But a sudden wave of exhaustion washed over him like hot bus exhaust - the mere thought of spending an afternoon with Joe. The constant effort on Arlen's part to appear even slightly interested. The endless, rambling, inane monologues. The incessant nose picking. The butt slaps. The unnecessary high-fives. No, it couldn't be Joe.
Arlen flipped through his Rolodex, now almost as thin as the fine wisps of hair that still lived on his head. After Biden there was Clinton. He immediately flipped to the next card. The Rolodex went right from C to F, without stopping for a Durbin or an Edwards. Upon seeing the next name, Arlen cracked his first smile of the day. This could work, he thought. This could be fun. It was almost two in the afternoon.
And so it was that Arlen's people spoke to Brett's people, and arranged a little play date between two real American heroes.
It made a heck of a lot of sense, thought Arlen. After all, they had so much in common: a singularly understated fashion sense (comfortable, good value, American-made), legions of adoring fans, and - from first glance - they had maintained virtually the same waistline since college. Brett probably just thought it would be cool to hang out with a "real-life, living, honest-to-real Washington senator."
Arlen was especially proud of his figure. His jowls had always betrayed his rock-hard abs and coconut-cracking thighs. It was frustrating to admit, but one of his life's great lessons was that no amount of time on the Stairmaster could get rid of those jowls. He repeatedly mentioned this to his grandkids - not to scare them, but rather, to teach them the importance of using facial-firming creams from a young age.
It was no secret that Arlen had been through a recent rough spell - an identity crisis of sorts - and desperately needed a pick-me-up. It had been nearly 16 years since he had purchased a new pair of blue jeans, and apparently, that’s what Democrats wear on the weekends. And what better way to soothe the soul of a lifelong politician than a trip to the mall, to bear witness to the engine of America's economy in action - the middle-class, credit-card-wielding consumer. It would afford him the chance to mingle with these commoners for a short time. To allow their rough hands to press against his soft, politico palms for a fleeting moment. To let their eyes linger on his famous jowls - his center of strength, his rock, his redeemer. Think Samson's hair, except instead of hair, they were made of loose skin.
Also, there was a big denim sale at J.C. Penney, and Arlen had a coupon for an additional 15% off.
Brett, on the other hand, had plenty of jeans. He had received a lifetime supply of Wranglers as the majority portion of his endorsement deal. In exchange for his proclaiming them the "Official Jeans of Brett Favre," the former NFL MVP had literally received an 18-wheeler full of his favorite styles. For many, many years, he exclusively wore the straight leg boot-cut, but had since moved on to a slim fit – the better to accentuate his “Mississippi Dumptruck,” as he liked to call it.
Arlen had no dumptruck to speak of – Pennsylvania, or otherwise. And, at least in his own mind, he was not the kind of guy to show off that kind of thing anyway. He was more concerned with healthcare reform and the war in Afghanistan. A five-term Senator has greater things to worry about than the seat of his pants, even though he spent much of the last year and a half trying to protect it.
As Arlen's limo pulled into the mall's passenger drop-off zone, he saw an interracial couple eating ice cream. He suddenly remembered it was time to send his daily text message to Obama. Give him a little reminder whose side he was on now.
“Barry, just a little shout out to remind you I still like abortion. Give Bo a kiss and a belly rub for me. Catch ya later – Specs.”
Arlen let out an audible sigh as he hit the send button. You gotta do what you gotta do, he thought.
The schedule was simple. They would meet at J.C. Penney at 4pm to check out the denim super sale. After that, who knows? Arlen planned to try on ten pairs of jeans, and purchase five - regardless of whether they fit. That was his game plan, and he was sticking to it. No one would accuse him of waffling on this day.
When Arlen arrived, Brett was already signing autographs. He approached the world-class athlete with outstretched hand, slightly damp, and a genuine smile on his face. Brett looked up, just as he was about to gingerly sign an infant's forehead. The grin was now mutual. He returned the baby and the pen to the starstruck parents, and grasped Arlen's hand warmly. Brett's handshake said "how's it goin'," "good to see you," and "I won three consecutive MVP awards," all at once. Arlen swooned as much as his 79 year-old knees would let him. He didn't expect to feel this way. Why did he now sense such a powerful connection to this man? This Minnesota Viking who had once been a Packer. It was all so mysterious and wonderful.
Brett led the way to the men's denim section, and quickly yet confidently picked out an armful of slim fits and bootcuts - without even asking for a size. He handed them to Arlen and went back to the racks to continue his search. For a spokesman and celebrity, Brett was remarkably quiet. Truly a man of action if there ever was one. Without words, the All-Pro quarterback conveyed the message, "I'm an expert when it comes to men's jeans."
Arlen knew he had stopped on the right Rolodex card. Furthermore, Brett would probably get incredible friends and family discounts on any Wrangler products. These jeans will be virtually free, thought Arlen. And it's all thanks to Brett.
Arlen smiled again. It was the third time that day. He couldn't remember the last time that had happened.