"The day the music died," lamented Don McLean.
Slightly over half the room was filled with sheep. Slightly less than half consisted of people of substance.
The teacher had a hard time tearing his mind away from the fact that Obama had not won a single state that required photo ID in order to vote. Eventually he did, however, and got on with his work.
Grading papers was drudgery with some occasional laughs mixed in. The "done" pile grew large, though, while the "to do" pile, after awhile, had only a few remaining papers, the student's being one of them. Two empty glasses of merlot held sway over their little section of the table.
The student was bored. His world was dominated by button-pushing technology. He didn't really understand how his phones and computers worked. He simply knew how to push buttons and see images without observing them. The television, though, remained powerful in his life. It continually fed him images of pop culture that he often mistook for truth.
The teacher began to read the student's test. Pretty good, he thought. Perhaps the fog of culture can be somewhat dispersed. Ordering one more round, the teacher returned the final exam to the student.
"Incomplete?" the student blurted. "I answered every question."
"I want to see how you do on the practical," the teacher said. "But perhaps an oral section first. Tell me what you learned in our class on the ancient kingdoms of Egypt, Israel, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome?"
"They drank beer and wine a lot."
"OK," the student acquiesced. "To me the biggest take away was that they all eventually imploded. It is so easy to see in hindsight, but while their cultures thrived it was as if a fog began to dull their thinking. Their physical appetite consumed their mental dietary regimen. They got weak. They forgot the lessons of history."
"Could anything have stopped it?"
The student thought through half a glass of Stella. "No," he soberly concluded.
The teacher glanced at the television. The election results were all but finished. "A+," he wrote in bold print at the top of the student's test.
"Wow!" the student exclaimed. "That was easy."
"No it wasn't," the teacher lamented. There were so many more to reach. "Now for the practical." He handed the student a blank sheet with Barack Obama's name on it and motioned with his finger to his lips for the student, who had a puzzled expression, to be quiet.
The president walked in and sat down at their table with a huge smile on his face.
"What can I do for you gentlemen? I'm here to help." It came out mostly as one voice, but the student almost thought he heard a second voice as well. Almost.
"Well," the teacher responded before the student could speak, "I have a problem."
The president nodded with compassion. "I'll fix it for you."
"You see," the teacher said and suppressed the impulse to hurl, "The National Football League is very successful. But my team isn't."
"Who's your team?"
The teacher peeled back his jacket to reveal a Cleveland Browns jersey personally autographed by Bernie Kosar. It was his Sunday, and occasionally Monday, pride and joy.
"Ouch." Obama flinched. "I'll tell you what, though. I'm gonna fix things for you, just like I have for so many others. You see, it's not fair for the New England Patriots and the New York Giants to be better than you. Their players are bigger, faster and stronger only because they're more privileged. They didn't build their championships. They have unfair advantages. It simply isn't fair."
He glanced down at his teleprompter. "Yes, it isn't fair that they practice more, eat better, party less, and actually execute. You can't be expected to compete with that. Let me say again, it isn't fair."
Another quick glance down. "Tell you what I'm gonna do." He glanced up and nodded at the sheep on one side of the room, then turned a calm, proud, compassionate gaze to the sheep on the other side of the room. "I'm gonna make it so that any team, especially those Patriots and Giants who score more than 14 points during a game must get punished. We will take every point they earn by their own sweat and blood over 14 points and simply give those points to you. You are entitled to them. You earned them by sleeping in, only practicing sometimes, eating all you want, and watching TV. Yes, we will take from the cheaters and give to those who are entitled."
"In fact," now his voice rose to a new level, "I can see a day when every team will finish eight and eight. Won't that be exciting? It will all, finally, be fair!"
All the sheep bleated in support. The people of substance were appalled.
"And another thing," the president continued, "If the Browns players sustain an injury, those cheating Patriots and Giants have to pay for the Browns' medical care."
Again, all the sheep bleated.
"And finally, the Browns can smoke dope without legal consequences."
"You're going to destroy the NFL," the teacher pointed out the obvious.
"No, you fool, I'm going to perfect it," shouted the president with fists clenched and held high.
The student clearly heard the sibilant, second voice now. He carved an "F" onto his paper and handed it to the teacher.
The teacher smiled.
Obama glared at the paper, realizing what it represented. He looked at the teacher and asked, "We've met before haven't we?"
"Yes," the teacher said quietly but confidently and looked away.
"The three men I admired most," sang Don.
Bob Branden is host of the podcast http://twomenandabible.podomatic.com/