Dear Bill:

How's it hangin'? Never mind, don't answer that. There has been quite enough speculation along those lines already, thank you very much.

Anyway, I know you're steamed about the House vote today, but really, how much of a surprise was it? Even the lamest Sunday-morning talk-show pundits saw it coming, and I'm sure some terminal dimbulb is even now explaining how a quatrain by Nostradamus predicted the whole sordid affair.

Now, I'm no expert on "sordid", but yes, it was an affair, Bill. You had it bad for that girl; from the moment she flashed you a hint of thong, you wanted her, uh, debriefed. I've been a guy almost as long as you have, so I know what it's like. I'm willing to entertain the possibility of kismet, though it's a slender thread: the man who doesn't inhale, at last finding the woman who doesn't swallow. Did she have feelings for you? Maybe. At her age (or ours, really), nothing makes a whole lot of sense.

I am a firm believer in "An it harm none, do what thou wilt." Finding out what will "harm none", unfortunately, is the hardest part. I don't think any particular damage was done to your household. It's not like the spousal unit was unaware of your tendencies. And if Chelsea is at all typical of her age group, the thought of either parent having any kind of sex, socially approved or otherwise, produces a single reaction: "Ewwww, gross!" And that's where it might have stayed, had you not taken the opportunity to deny it on the witness stand. Now I understand your position here: this sort of matter is inappropriate for public consumption, to be sure, and those casting the first stone are not exactly those without sin, if you know what I mean. But Henry and Helen and Dan and Bob (just to name a few) weren't under oath. You were. And when you are, you are expected to tell the truth; it doesn't matter whether they're asking you about parking tickets or genocide, or anything in between, you are expected to tell the truth. Period. No ifs, ands, buts, or attempts to nitpick about the definitions thereof. For crying out loud, Bill, you're a lawyer. You know this stuff already.

Now, this doesn't mean that your counter-accusations aren't valid. Yes, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy; yes, the Republican leadership is the very model of a modern moral vacuum; yes, Kenneth Starr would be busted in some states for daring to exhibit that sort of prurient material. But I remind you: they aren't on trial. Yet.

Meanwhile, you're going to be on trial. And if you want to avoid that particular spectacle, it appears you have exactly one option. If it makes you feel better, let's call it, er, "retirement". Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, drop off the humidor in the Dumpster, and let Big Dull Al take care of the last couple of years. There are golf balls to hit and babes to pursue, and by the time the history books have any meaningful perspective, you'll be off to a far, far better world. Really, Bill, I hate to say "I told you so," but, in point of fact, I told you so. Here's hoping I don't have to tell you again.

The Vent

19 December 1998

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