[The following is a 100% partially true story.]
People routinely accuse me of telling over-the-top fabricated stories in this column. They make these outrageously unfair accusations just because I may bend the truth a tiny bit occasionally – and by occasionally, I mean not more than 80% of the time. (The other 20% I’m telling the truth, although, admittedly, that’s usually by accident.)
But this time, I swear I’m writing with utter veracity. Recently I had a private workout with Barack Obama – the 44th president of the United States. I was in San Diego for an industry conference. Obama was the keynote speaker. I wasn’t able to attend his address because it started at 8:00 am, and that was just way too early to rise and shine – even for my favorite President.
I was staying at a nearby Hilton. The day following his speech, I was working out in the hotel’s fitness center, doing my usual exercise routine of pretending to pedal on a stationary bike, while watching an episode of Parks and Recreation on my iPad.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear but the 44th prez with two bodyguards near.
There he was, not ten feet from me, pumping barbells and doing pushups. There were only eight of us in this rather large room, plus Obama and his two-man secret service detail, who were stoically standing at attention in the far corner of the room.
My brain was spinning way faster than I was pedaling at the sudden realization that the former president (my hero) and I were, in essence, working out together! There was no metal detector, no security pat-down or any effort to detain me from entering the gym. Thank God they didn’t check to see I’m a humor writer who makes fun of politicians, or else I’d probably be sitting in a Guantanamo cell right now.
Outwardly, I continued to remain calm. But inwardly I was freaking out. I could not take my eyes off him – even though the Parks and Recreation episode was a particularly good one.
In my head, my brain was buzzing with things I wanted to say if Obama came near me:
Mr. President, I miss you so much!!! [after which I would commence sobbing] … Or
Mr. President, can I get a selfie of you and me, with you holding my book, I am So Sick of White Guys? … Or
Mr. President, if I give you a hug, will your two pals in the corner take me down and beat the crap out of me? … Or
Mr. President, are you sure the Constitution forbids you from removing our current president from office on the grounds that he’s an insufferable narcissistic idiot, thereby resuming your rightful place as our Commander in Chief? Could you at least have a staffer check into that?
In the end, I got completely tongue-tied. All I could think to utter as he walked near me was “Sir, thank you for your service,” – to which Obama smiled and said, “Thank you.” That’s right. Obama thanked ME – presumably for my contribution to great literature and for polarizing the nation even more via my political satire book (see shameless book promotion above).
Everything I’ve written thus far happened exactly as I’ve described. But it’s what happened next that you may find a trifle implausible.
Right after he said thank you, I suddenly found an inner confidence. I approached Obama, shook hands and said, “Mr. President, may I ask a question? How is it you remain in such remarkably good shape after eight grueling years as president?”
Obama pulled me aside, put his arm around me, and warmly responded, “That’s a great question.” Then he asked my name.
In shock that he would actually ask that, I stumbled, “um, Tim. Tim Jones.”
I’ll never forget what he said next. “You’re not, by any chance, the Tim Jones fellow who wrote that book, I am So Sick of White Guys? I gave that book five stars on Amazon.”
OMG! He WAS thanking me earlier for my literary genius! “Um, why, yes, sir. Yes, I am. How did you know about my book?” I asked incredulously.
“Hey,” he shouted to his security detail. “This is the author of that book I was telling you about!” Then he looked back at me and said, “I heard about it from Joe Biden. He loved the blog article you wrote about him, by the way.”
“The one called Joe Biden Facing Claims of Decent Behavior?” I asked in utter amazement.
“Yeah, that’s the one. Nice job. Oh, and call me ‘Barry.’ So, you want to know how I stay fit?”, he said, remembering my initial question.
“If you have the time, sir. But you probably have somewhere you need to be,” I rambled, my head still in shock.
“Hey, it’s Barry, remember?” he said, his face now beaming from ear to ear.
“Oh right, Mr. President. Er, I mean, Barry,” I said sheepishly.
“Well, if you have time, Tim, I’d be happy to show you,” Obama enthusiastically replied.
He spent the next 30 minutes walking me through his fitness regimen, watching me try the moves and giving me helpful coaching advice about breathing, stretching, and strengthening my core. Then Barry and I grabbed lattes at a local café, which is amazing because until then, I never particularly liked lattes.
Next, we went rollerblading on San Diego’s Mission Beach boardwalk. Then we made sand castles and watched the waves carry them away. “It’s a metaphor for life, Timbo. It’s all fleeting,” Barry mused. I wanted to sit at his feet and soak up all his wisdom. Instead, he wanted to soak up some more rays as we trotted along flying our new matching kites he bought us.
Eventually, Anthony and Marko (his secret service agents – but don’t reveal their names to anyone – that could get me in big trouble) reminded Barry he needed to get to the airport. He was due in Brussels to give a lecture at the European Union.
“Hey, wanna come along? It’ll be fun!” exclaimed my new bestie. Reluctantly, I had to decline. “I have to work a trade show booth this afternoon. Maybe next time, okay, Barr?” It killed me to decline his generous offer, especially because he said the Baked Alaska they serve for dessert on the plane is to die for.
As we parted, we hugged and did our secret handshake we came up with earlier while playing video games at the arcade, and before I knew it, Barry and his limo were gone.
And yet, I suspect some of you won’t believe this all really happened. But I swear it did – well, some of it, anyway.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
Check out my latest humor book: YOU’RE GROUNDED FOR LIFE: Misguided Parenting Strategies That Sounded Good at the Time
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2018