A ‘Spicy’ Memoir: How To Lie With A Straight Face
Anonymously mass-mailed proposal for a blockbuster new book:
Dear [fill in name of editor],
As you devour the explosive details of this book manuscript, you’ll understand why I need to withhold my identity at this time.
I currently work at the highest level of government in Washington. My official job description is “press secretary,” though my real duties are much more sensitive.
My boss (let’s call him “Thump”) is an impulsive, vain, petty megalomaniac, but I accepted this job believing I could make him appear thoughtful, caring, and poised.
What the hell was I smoking? Every day there’s a new train wreck, and I’m the one lying bloody on the tracks.
In only three weeks, I’ve compiled enough shocking “insider” material for a surefire bestseller. It’s possible I won’t be employed here much longer, so I’ve been hurriedly working on this memoir in my spare time.
The first chapter kicks off with my job interview, an unforgettable morning. I was summoned to midtown Manhattan and escorted to a bright atrium, where a crew of painters perched on scaffolds was applying industrial bronzer to my future boss.
“Spicer!” he bellowed. No, wait, scratch that.
“Dicer!” he bellowed. “The position of press secretary requires one essential skill: Can you lie and keep a straight face?”
“Excuse me, sir?”
“You’ll be my front man with the scum-dog media. Some of the things I’ll order you to say will be so outlandishly false and silly that you’ll want to burst out laughing. I need somebody who can keep a straight face, no matter what.”
“I can do that, sir!”
And thus began my grim descent.
On my first day at work, “Thump” spoke at a large public event. The aerial photographs showed several hundred thousand people there — a very respectable turnout — but the boss told me to report the crowd as a whopping 1.5 million.
Which I did, loyally, without cracking a smile.
He also instructed me to bash the media for questioning the crowd size, so I bashed those suckers big-time. Seriously, I was IN THEIR FACES! It’s all laid out in Chapter Two.
Every day was a new battle, and I thought I was doing fine. Every night, standing in front of the bathroom mirror, I’d practice my disdainful stare and scolding tone. For pointers I even studied old tapes of Ron Ziegler, Richard Nixon’s press secretary, scoffing at the Watergate break-in.
What I didn’t know, until later, was that my boss — who watches like 23 hours of TV a day — was replaying each press conference, rating my performance.
The feedback was crushing. He said I wasn’t tough enough, slick enough, or dapper enough. I write about this, sadly, in Chapter Seven.
Then a certain Saturday-night comedy program featured a sketch about me totally losing my s–t at a press conference. I’d thought it was pretty funny, until Thump hauled me into his office.
“The actor who played you was really a chick!” he hollered.
“What? No way!”
He put on the video and we watched it nine times. He was right — a movie actress named Melissa had been made up to look like me.
No fan of parody, Thump was furious. He said being impersonated by a woman made me look weak, and that made him look weak for hiring me.
I innocently asked if he didn’t have more important stuff to worry about, such as Iran’s missile tests or his daughter’s troubled line of designer handbags. He responded by throwing a golf ball at my head, a scene I chillingly recreate in Chapter Eleven.
Last week was the worst. In defending Thump’s views on Muslim immigrants, I was told to mention the terrorist attacks in Boston, San Bernardino, and Atlanta.
Except it turns out that the only bomber to go after Atlanta was a Florida-born redneck who targeted the 1996 Olympics — definitely not a jihadist.
Yet, somehow I named Atlanta in three different interviews. So, when the blowback began, I got the brilliant idea to say I was actually referring to the city of Orlando.
Except it turns out the Pulse nightclub shooter isn’t an immigrant, either. He was born in New York. The media sure drilled me a new one after that, as you’ll see in Chapter Thirteen.
Still I’m hanging in there, faithfully saying whatever whacky made-up stuff the boss wants me to say, regardless of facts. I might not have a job by the time you read this book proposal, but at least I’ll go out with a straight face.
Can we work that into the title?
IMAGE: White House spokesman Sean Spicer holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque