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April Fools: Column

Al N. Bensun

This article contains fictional content. Happy April Fools’ Day!

It was one of the biggest days of my life. Perhaps even more so because it was a complete surprise.

I had never met anyone famous before. I had always told myself that if I met a senator or Mark Hamil or maybe even Fanny Crosby (she’s still alive, right?), I would be cool, calm and collected. No fangirling, no gushing, no asking for celebrity autographs. All that went out the window when I saw him. In fairness, this was the president.

It was a total shock. The president was in this little Republican through-and-through, Smalltown, Georgia. Famous people don’t just turn up there – it would never make it in a Marvel movie, there’s nothing there for the Hulk to smash.

Now, don’t ask me about my political beliefs. I don’t care what side of the aisle you fall on or if you agree with what he’s done or not, this was still the president. This man held the fate of thousands in his hands. He could directly influence hundreds of lives with a single decision. He dealt with life-or-death situations on a daily basis. I’m pretty sure if this one individual got mad at me and decided to make me disappear, I’d be gone in an hour. No body, no crime, right?

So, I was nervous as well as starstruck.

He was holding an event downtown at City Hall. I knew he was coming, but I think in the back of my mind, I was convinced it was all a joke. Surely, the president wouldn’t actually be coming? It had to just be his representatives. But just in case it really was the president, I had already decided I wasn’t going. I was nervous, awkward and convinced I would pass out if he tried to shake my hand.

My wife practically dragged me to the event by my ear. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance!” she said. “You never know what could happen from this! You have to go.”

I don’t remember what I was wearing—maybe a cardigan—or how I did my hair or if I had even brushed my teeth. I hope I did. All I remember was sitting down next to my mom and watching him walk up to the platform.

He was in a crisp navy suit, snow-white shirt and sky-blue tie. He waved and grinned at his audience as we clapped. His protection detail of secret servicemen lined the stage, very solemn and scanning the crowd for the first wrong movement. They looked very official and professional. There were only four of them, which I thought was strange.

We weren’t in a big dangerous city like Chicago or New York or Greenville, but still. We were in Smalltown, Georgia. I had lived there for years. I knew for a fact that just down the street lived a man who ate his neighbor’s cats, though she had so many she never noticed. Especially since most of her cats were really opossums that didn’t know she had claimed them as her babies. A block over lived the woman who offered all the children candy that we were warned never to take. And two streets away was the house that always had lights on and smoke coming out of the chimney, but no one ever went in or came out.

Nevertheless, he got through his speech without any danger. It was the most inspiring, rousing, heartfelt, genuine and amazing speech I had ever heard. I don’t really remember what he said. It was more about what he made me feel. I was ready to change the world after that speech.

When it was all over and I was standing with my wife in a starstruck daze, I looked up to see that blue suit, white shirt and bright tie.

“Hi, there!” he greeted, flashing a glowing smile at me as he held out his hand.

I promptly fainted.

And that’s how I met Dr. Steve Pettit, the president of Bob Jones University.