Column: SJT and the hurricane conspiracy

It’s been ten days since Hurricane Isabel roared into Washington like … a glorified rainstorm with some gusty winds. I do not want to have to remind anyone of that traumatic Thursday when the world stopped, but it’s my job to report the facts. And the fact is that your president and mine, Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, arranged for Isabel to paralyze Washington in order to further his insidious initiatives. How do I know all this, you ask? Well, I did a little snooping after dark at the old GW Hospital. If you think it’s being torn down just because it’s old, you’re probably not voting for me (you’re not smart, that’s my point). There’s a veritable treasure trove of classified documents that the GW administration doesn’t want you to see in there.

Sure, they could just get rid of it in the old-fashioned way, but in this stagnant economy, the cost of paper shredders is going nowhere but up, while the cost of demolishing buildings with a wrecking ball is as constant as death and taxes. Anyway, I am known as the MacGyver of investigative reporting. With just a little Tabasco sauce and a Duck Hunt video game cartridge, I was able to penetrate the security perimeter of the hospital, and quickly recover ultra-classified tapes that I’ve carefully transcribed (apparently Trachtenberg has a thing for taping conversations, like Nixon). The following conversation took place on Tuesday, September 16, just two days before the full fury of Isabel would pummel Washington like an ornery platypus would a chipmunk.

SJT: With this hurricane distracting the populace, I can plan for the trimester system without any opposition, hold my annual five minutes of office hours, and maybe even have time for a delicious Baja Fresh burrito all on the same day. God, I’m a genius. Hmm… maybe I can even realize my master plan to tear down the White House and replace it with the best damn residence hall America has ever seen! Every double will have its own bowling alley, every triple its own personal chef… the sheer opulence of it will sedate the students into a lethargic puddle! Ain’t life grand, Isabel?

Isabel: I don’t care about your schemes, Stephen. What I care about is my money. You said you’d pay me the fifty thousand up front, and another fifty after I had been downgraded to a tropical depression. I was going to give you a category five, but I can’t tolerate this behavior, so 95 MPH winds are the best you’re going to get. I just wish it weren’t too late to turn back to Africa without causing a meteorological uproar. But I can assure you we’ll never be doing business again. Now where the hell are my fifty thousand bowls of New England clam chowder? Sorry, that’s what I say when I mean money.

SJT: You run a tough bargain, Isabel. I admire that in a hurricane. Listen, the reason I haven’t compensated you yet is that I’ve had a lot of storms burn me in the past. Andrew went south in ’92 and I never heard from him again, and Mitch and I never really saw eye to eye (pun intended). But now I know you’re the real deal, Izzy. I’ll give you an extra thousand if you try to spare Foggy Bottom from power outages – it’s hard to scheme in the dark. Do we have a deal?

Isabel: Don’t call me Izzy. I’m a lady, for chrissakes! This isn’t an exact science, bub, but if you’re giving me a G, I’ll do my best. Don’t you have another campus, Mount something?

SJT: Mount Vernon, right. Well, I’m still a little bitter that they didn’t want to be swallowed up by the juggernaut that is me a couple years back. Give it hell, Isabel.

Isabel: Hey, that rhymes. You’re a poet and you don’t know it.

SJT: Hey, you’re right!

Isabel: Oh, just one more question. Why do you want me to hit Cape Hatteras and not somewhere closer to Washington?

SJT: Because, you amateur, they’ll never suspect anything! Hurricanes hit North Carolina all the time. They hit Maryland about as often as the Red Sox win the World Series (though I do believe this is the year). Besides (sniffle), I have a certain affection for the empire I’ve built here. I wouldn’t want to see it seriously damaged, just distracted for a couple of days.

Isabel: Shouldn’t be a problem, Stephen. I’ll be there directly, bringing my disappointingly weak winds with me. Nice doing business with you.

SJT: You too, Isabel. TTYL

The writer, a senior majoring in history, is a Hatchet humor columnist.

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