Dear Aunt Sophie,
I’m a congressman. Apparently I had an accident the other night in my car. I don’t even remember getting out of bed, let alone having an accident, but they say I did, so I must have.
They’re trying to make it sound as if I was drunk but I can assure you I didn’t have any alcohol. Or if I did it wasn’t much. I don’t remember. Maybe they’re confusing me with my father. He had a car accident, too, although it was a long time ago. Somebody died in that one, but nobody died in mine, assuming I really did have one.
The last thing I think I remember is I was on my way to the House and I was late for a vote. I didn’t have my headlights on because frankly, I was embarrassed and I hoped no one would notice how late I was. If that damn barrier hadn’t been there nobody would have noticed either, except maybe the cop they say I almost hit. But I didn’t hit him so I don’t get what all the fuss is about.
They said I staggered when I got out of the car. So what if I did. My hips get stiff when I drive and I may have staggered – if any of this actually happened. I guess it didn’t help that I’d taken my meds. I forget what they’re for, but one of them is called Ambien and it makes me sleepy. I forget what the other one is.
That’s really all there is to it. People should be happy I take my responsibility so seriously that I’d even run into a barrier trying to get to a vote in the middle of the night. But they won’t see it that way. They’ll think I was drunk or something. Well, the fact that they didn’t make me take a breathalyzer test proves I wasn’t drunk. It proves they didn’t even think I was. It proves…oh hell, it must prove something. I don’t remember.
I’m not just going to sit around while people take pot shots at my character. My lawyers told me I should say I’m addicted to painkillers prescribed by my doctor. That does sound better than being a lush or a drug addict. Nobody holds prescription painkillers against you unless you go doctor shopping, and I don’t think I did that because I’m sure I’d remember. So, I’m going to check into the Mayo for a month. I don’t remember what I’m really addicted to.
Do you think people will understand that I’m the victim here? I mean nobody died.
If I understand correctly, you sleep-drove to the Capitol in the middle of the night to cast a sleep-vote, but on the way you sleep-swerved to avoid sleep-hitting a phantom patrol car and wound up nap-smashing into a spectral barrier that nonetheless had enough substance to damage the car you had no idea you were driving.
I’ve always been in awe of people who are so accomplished that they can eat, read the paper, arrange their hair, listen to music and yak on the phone while driving. Why shouldn’t they cop a snooze at the same time?
Now I understand why people use the term “getting smashed” to describe a state of inebriation, although I’m not insinuating that you were in that state because you have assured everyone that you merely took a sleeping pill before getting behind the wheel. Of course there’s no law against that, and, as you pointed out, nobody died, although I don’t see how you could be so certain, since you aren’t sure about anything else.
Your devotion to your constituents, although only a self-serving figment of your imagination, gives me goose bumps. How soul-stirring that the first thing you think of to excuse your semi-conscious presence behind the wheel is that you were intent on casting a semi-conscious vote. If that degree of dedication were more common in Congress we’d be able to fund twice as many studies of the mating rituals of the barking frog.
It’s only proper that you weren’t subjected to a breathalyzer test. The mere sight of that apparatus must strike fear in the hearts of people who stagger upon emerging from the driver’s seats of wrecked vehicles, and no formerly or currently drug-addicted congressman should be subjected to that level of anxiety. In fact, in the post-Cynthia McKinney world it would probably constitute a hate crime. Sometimes it’s much better just to give the perp a ride home and let his metabolism dispose of the evidence.
By all means listen to your lawyer. People addicted to prescription pain killers get lots of sympathy unless it comes out that they had no pain to kill. So keep a bad back in reserve - perhaps the aftermath of a previous accident.
And the next time you get caught snoozing behind the wheel, don’t mention the Ambien – it makes you look like a pill-popper. Just say the last thing you remember hearing before you nodded off was the voice of Al Gore. Everyone will understand.
Good luck and God bless.
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