Dear Aunt Sophie,
I hate to admit it, but I don’t feel young any more. When I was young, life was great. I was a soldier then, and rich. I went through a bad time, but things improved and believe me, money isn’t my problem. My problem is I’m running for president, and while people don’t want an old president, they do seem to want a grown-up. I want to be young. I’ve always been pretty good at finessing polarities, but this does set up a conflict, which is stressful, and stress ages you. See? It’s a catch-22.
Have I told you I was a war hero? I never realized how much I missed those days until I went to the Mississippi River delta recently. It reminded me so much of ‘Nam - I half expected Charlie to pop out, and I got a little frisson when I realized I wasn’t even armed. I don’t carry a machine gun any more. Instead, I rely on the secret service and, just between you and me, these guys are klutzes. One of them even tripped me up when I was snowboarding. I know the son-of-a-bitch did it because I never fall.
Anyway, when I saw that coastline I got this sudden attack of déja vu. There I was speeding along the coast in a swift boat, machine gun at the ready, scooping up Purple Hearts by the handful. I tell you, those were the days – incinerating villages, shooting women and children. Heady stuff.
And when I came back from the war I was both a war hero and an antiwar hero simultaneously. Do you know what a tour de force that is? Here I was, only 27-years-old, decorated, and orbiting around this beautiful rich, young Hollywood actress. What a time that was! If I’d just come back and gotten a job like everybody else, nobody would even know who I am today. Not even my wife. By the way, she’s great. She introduced me to botox. I don’t know how anybody can live without it. I mean, if you let yourself age you just get so uncomely.
I want to be able to savor my past while I’m waiting to be elected, but people just won’t give me a break. They’ve started questioning my medals. You don’t question a guy’s medals. When I threw them away (or was it my ribbons? – I don’t remember.) I got such a rush. I can’t tell you how great it felt. I just want to get that old feeling back.
People keep attacking me for doing what I know any one of them would have done if they could have. How can I make them stop?
Vive la gloire! How exciting it must have been to return from the front clanking with so many medals that you couldn’t wait to get rid of some of them. Even so, next time you go to a medal-toss, be sure to throw your own so you’ll remember whether they were medals or ribbons.
Aside from questions about their final disposition, there must be some reason your Purple Hearts have come under scrutiny. Can there be any doubt whether you really earned them? I hope not. Those kinds of questions can age a candidate faster than he can say botox.
Perhaps you’d have been wiser to choose something other than la recherche du temps perdu to keep you young. For example, the previous occupant of the White House maintained his youthful vigor by creating a special program for White House interns and I’m told he never cast so much as a backward glance toward the glory of his Vietnam days.
While being married to Tinker Bell might make it unappealing for you to peek through the mists of nostalgia, it would definitely behoove you to seek something plus actuel to quicken your inner teen. The world is a far different place now, although that fact seems not to have penetrated your time warp. Vietnam is just so thirty years ago.
If you want people to stop gnawing at the stories surrounding the acquisition of your medals, you must divert their attention. I’ll bet you could come up with lots of things to distract them. For example, many people would be touched by your dignified treatment of the secret service man whose existence caused you to fall off your snowboard. Others would swoon over your patrician use of pungent youth-speak in that Rolling Stone interview. Thousands more would be touched to know that a regular hero like you flies his hairdresser in for thousand-dollar haircuts. See what I mean? There are so many ways to make them stop talking about those medals. But first, you have to stop talking about them.
And oh, if you miss the jungle that much, get a job at the UN.
Good luck and God bless.