The Humor of Melvin Durai

Humor columns, satire and other funny stuff

A prominent writer for an American literary magazine, The New Yorker, got fired recently because he inadvertently exposed himself to some colleagues, both men and women, in a Zoom meeting. During a break in the online work-related meeting, the writer, a married man, apparently switched to another video call that was definitely NSFW (not safe for work), as well as another kind of NSFW (not safe for wife).

The writer’s wife wasn’t around, but he nevertheless landed in serious trouble, largely because of what he did when he returned to the meeting: he unknowingly pointed his webcam below his waist, allowing his colleagues to get to know him a little more personally than they ever wanted to.

Well, perhaps it was a lot more personally than they ever wanted to. I don’t know exactly how much they were able to see, but it was enough for them to be offended and complain to the higher-ups in the magazine. After conducting an investigation, the bosses concluded that the writer had committed an egregious offense. He had broken a commonly known, but unwritten rule that when you’re on the staff of an organization, you should not give other members of the staff a close-up view of your … uh … staff.

Nobody wants to see it, and if they did, they would request a private audience.

It should be clear that the writer is fully responsible for his actions. But he may be cursing the technology that allows video meetings to be held and the COVID pandemic that made such meetings necessary. He may also be cursing Dr. Anthony Fauci for understating how deadly COVID can be, how vaccines and ventilators may not be enough to save your career.

Video meetings do have several advantages, but it’s important to be aware of their shortcomings (or hazards); otherwise you may find yourself searching for a new job, either because you’ve been fired or you’re too embarrassed to face your co-workers ever again.

One of the benefits of video meetings, of course, is that you do not need to take a bath or shower. No one can smell you through the internet. If you spot someone holding their nose during a video meeting, it’s probably because they can smell something in their own home, most likely a family member who hasn’t showered in months.

When you’re appearing on national TV, it might be a good idea to wear pants.

Another benefit is that you don’t have to dress up completely, especially if you’re sitting at a table or desk. The camera will show only your upper body, so you need to just wear something nice on top, such as a coat and tie. What you wear below the waist is up to you: shorts, pajamas, or lungi. Just make sure you don’t forget to wear something.

Almost any article of clothing will do, as long as it won’t get you fired. You may think that the camera won’t capture it, but don’t count on it, especially if you have a dog, child, partner or roommate at home. One of these household members will likely make a noise in the middle of a video meeting. You will have to stand up to take care of this disturbance, allowing everyone to see your full attire, or lack thereof.

Getting household members to be quiet during online meetings is quite a challenge. But even if they’re quiet, you may find them making surprise appearances. Your co-workers may get a kick out of it, but you’ll be mortified to spot your spouse or partner in the background, coming out of the bathroom wearing only a towel.

You: “Zoom, honey! Zoom!”

Partner: “Zoom in or zoom out?”

You: “Zoom out, please! And next time please wear more than just that towel on your head.”

At the turn of the century, if you had told a random group of Americans that over the next two decades, they would elect a president named Barack Hussein Obama, whose father was from Kenya, and a vice president named Kamala Devi Harris, whose mother was from India, they would have wondered whom you had consulted to help you predict the future: Johnnie Walker or Jack Daniels.

Obama made history by becoming America’s first African-American president, and Harris will make history on Jan. 20 when she becomes America’s first female, first African-American and first Indian-American vice president, among several other firsts.

What are these other firsts? Well, Jamaicans take pride in the fact that her father is from Jamaica, making her the first Jamaican-American vice president. Tamils take pride in the fact that her late mother was Tamil, making her the first vice president who knows how to make dosa.

Tamil Brahmins take pride in the fact that her mother was a Tamil Brahmin, making her the first TamBram vice president, not to mention the first TamBramJam vice president. (Kamala’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, apparently followed an obscure Brahmin rule of conduct: “Marry a Jamaican and your daughter will make everyone proud!”)

Needless to say, the American media had a little trouble keeping up with all these firsts. One TV network simplified things considerably by calling her simply the “first woman of color to be elected vice president of America.”

As a person of color myself, I was extremely pleased that a woman of color was on a presidential ticket that trounced a man of color (slightly orange).

Another inclusive term that many people are using these days is BIPOC. It’s an acronym that stands for “black, Indigenous and people of color.” Kamala Harris is not the first BIPOC vice president — that distinction belongs to Charles Curtis, a man of Native American ancestry who served under President Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1933. But Harris, within a few years, will undoubtedly become the first BIPOC vice president in a Bollywood biopic.

Harris will also be the first HBCU graduate to become vice president. HBCUs are “historically black colleges and universities.” Harris graduated from Howard University, an HBCU in Washington, D.C., before heading to law school at University of California, where she studied the art of interrogating suspected criminals and Supreme Court nominees, sometimes at the same time.

The election of Harris to the second highest position in America means that her husband, Douglas Emhoff, has also achieved a significant first. He is about to become the first Second Gentleman of the United States. America has had numerous First Ladies and Second Ladies, but never a First or Second Gent. (To make matters worse, it has been four long years since the White House had a gentleman of any kind.)

Unlike India, which elected its first female leader more than 55 years ago, America has yet to put a woman in the top job. Hillary Clinton came close four years ago, so close that Bill Clinton was already collecting phone numbers from potential interns.

As vice president, Harris will be next in line to become president if Joe Biden is unable to fulfill his duties, for health reasons or otherwise. All the male chauvinists who voted for Trump in 2016 because they didn’t want to see a female president will no doubt be praying hard for Biden’s health — Christians and Hindus joined in fervent prayer by atheists and agnostics.

At 78, Biden will be the oldest president in U.S. history, but I hope he’s able to serve two terms. After that, Harris will get a chance to run for president again. If things go well, she will move into the White House in January 2029, achieving another series of firsts, while Emhoff becomes America’s First Gentleman. If someone finds this a ridiculous idea, don’t tell Emhoff—tell ’em off.

Meena realized that something terrible had happened in America when she received a WhatsApp message from her 73-year-old father in Chennai, India.

“Hope you all are safe,” the message said.

Seconds later, Meena received another text, this one from her Nigerian friend, Yetunde, who lived just down the street.

“A coup! I can’t believe we are having a coup in America! My family left Nigeria because of all the coups.”

This must be some kind of joke, Meena thought, as she tossed her phone on the couch and turned on her TV. She had listened to NPR in the morning and knew that a pro-Trump rally was taking place in Washington, D.C. She also recalled President Trump’s mid-December tweet: “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, be wild!”

She knew that Trump supporters were upset about the election result, but how wild could they be?

Mind-blowingly wild, she realized, as she absorbed the drama unfolding on CNN and other news networks, underscored with headlines such as “Rioters Break Into U.S. Capitol,” “Congress Members Hide From Mob” and “2021 Threatens to Outdo 2020.”

Hordes of people wearing MAGA caps and shirts were knocking down barricades, climbing walls and breaking windows, showing their determination to “Make America Great Again.”

Meena was horrified. She had watched such scenes from other countries, scenes that often ended in bloodshed and tyranny. She feared for the elected officials hiding in the Capitol. What if the rioters set fire to the building? What if they detonated explosives? What if they took Congress members hostage, refusing to let them go until Joe Biden agreed to allow Donald Trump to have four more years?

Perhaps Yetunde was right and this really was a coup d’état: Trump supporters were taking over the government by force. One of them, a middle-aged bearded man, was already sitting comfortably in an office, resting his foot on a desk. Would he be the new Nancy Pelosi? And what about the heavily tattooed, bare-chested man parading around in a fur headdress with horns? Would he be the new Mitch McConnell?

Meena shuddered to think of the types of laws they might enact. No more black or brown immigrants. No more restrictions on gun sales. No more taxes on pick-up trucks. 

After staring wide-eyed at the TV for a few minutes, Meena responded to her father’s message: “Why are you up so late, Appa?”

It was well past midnight in India.

“You know me. Just checking news in bed. Are you safe?”

“Of course, Appa. We are in Indiana. Washington is very far away.”

“Lock all the doors, just in case.”

“Okay, Appa, I will.”

“If they keep Trump as president, what will you do?”

“Cry.”

Meena didn’t know what else to write. Before the presidential election, she had been worried about four more years of Trump. Now suddenly she had to contemplate the possibility that he might be president forever.

And what about Kamala? Meena and her husband, Mukund, along with scores of other Indian-Americans, had been elated that Kamala Harris was about to become the first vice-president in U.S. history who knew how to make dosa.

Heeding her father’s advice, Meena locked the front door. She didn’t really expect anyone to attack her home, but it was better to be safe. After all, she and Mook had shown their support for the Biden-Harris ticket in different ways, including selling special masks that Meena had sewn with her friend, Mary.

Thankfully, Mook put Meena at ease. He was in his office at Purdue University, preparing for the spring semester. He turned his phone sideways, so Meena could see less of him and more of the traffic on State Street.

“Stop worrying, Meena,” Mook said. “America is not a banana republic. It is more like a plantain republic. You cannot peel it and eat it very easily.”

“You have to cook it?”

“Yes, you have to cook it, but the recipe has been cut into many pieces and stored in many places.” 

Meena felt relieved after speaking to Mook, but her relief lasted only two minutes — until she received another text from Yetunde.

“Oh no, the insurgents have taken over the Capitol! Shots have been fired! Well, at least Americans can be proud that their democracy lasted for 244 years.”

It took another two hours before Meena could relax once again. The pro-Trump mob had been forced out of the Capitol building and members of Congress were making cautious appearances, vowing to certify the election results and ensure that Biden becomes president.

Meena wrote a single word in a Facebook discussion group she had created: “Phew!”

She had started the “West Lafayette Gals” group in 2017, inviting all her friends to join. Some were Republicans, some were Democrats, and some had visible fence marks on their pants.

“You can say that again,” wrote Donna, a Republican. “I can’t believe I voted for him in ‘16. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Sharmila, a Democrat, was blunt in her response: “You weren’t.”

“At least I voted for Biden this time,” Donna replied.

“But we almost had a coup!” wrote Yetunde. “We almost said goodbye to democracy.” 

“I wouldn’t say ‘almost,’” Donna wrote. “That’s like saying Marianne Williamson ‘almost’ became president.”

“She did!” Yetunde insisted.

“Can’t take democracy for granted,” Mary wrote. “That’s why everybody needs to vote!!!”

Then, remembering her own vote in ‘16, she added: “Sensibly.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many of us to wear masks — mostly in public but sometimes even at home.

While some people are wearing masks reluctantly, like they’re accommodating an annoying uncle temporarily in their homes, others have accepted and embraced masks, making that uncle feel so welcome and comfortable, he’s beginning to wonder if he should ever leave.

Masks have become a fashion accessory for many people, just like ties, belts, scarves and handbags. Many women have an assortment of masks in their wardrobes, and some even have a mask drawer. Whether they have just a few masks or a few dozen, they try to match their masks with the rest of their ensemble. And they enjoy giving and receiving compliments on masks.

Roger: “Lovely mask, Rani. Same pattern as your dress!”

Rani: “I love your mask too, Roger. Same pattern as your freckles!”

Whether you’ve embraced masks or reluctantly wear them, the important thing is that you’re doing your part to protect yourself and others, at least until we all get vaccinated.

Unfortunately, there are still many people who refuse to wear masks or cover their faces in other ways. Some do this because they believe that face coverings are ineffective against the virus. Others just want to assert their freedom to do whatever they want. “If I die, I die,” they say, forgetting that they are not only putting other people at risk, they’re also neglecting to do something every mask-averse person should do: arrange their own funerals.

Scientific studies indicate that wearing a mask reduces your risk of getting or spreading the virus by about 70 percent. To put that in perspective, wearing a seat belt reduces your risk of getting killed in a car accident by 45 percent, and wearing an argyle sweater reduces your risk of getting picked up at a party by 65 percent.

But if the health benefits of wearing a mask aren’t convincing enough, you may want to consider all the other positives. One of the biggest benefits is the anonymity a mask gives you, as Alyson Krueger explained in a recent New York Times article entitled “Cases of Mask-taken Identity.”

Krueger shared the story of a 20-year-old Los Angeles woman who spotted her ex-boyfriend in a grocery store and started to panic. But the man walked right past her, failing to recognize her because of her mask. What could have been an awkward moment turned into a moment of relief. Thanks to the masks, this young woman—and many others—won’t complain when burkas become a fashion craze in the West.

Let’s face it: there’s a long list of people we’d like to avoid in public places, not just ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends, but also ex-spouses and ex-bosses, in-laws and ex-in-laws, people to whom we owe money, and people who may try to borrow from us. There’s also a list of people we don’t mind running into, as long as they don’t talk our ears off. A one-minute encounter won’t delay us much, but pulling away from some people is like walking out of church while the minister is speaking, right in the middle of our own wedding. This is where the mask is vital: it saves you from long conversations in the supermarket that don’t involve your cellphone and your wife. Even if an acquaintance recognizes you, you can alter your voice and say, “Sorry, I think you have mask-taken me for someone else.”

For people who suffer from social anxiety, the masks are a godsend. They’re also a welcome accessory for people who don’t like to smile at everyone. People with straight teeth may miss the opportunity to flash their perfect smiles, but many others are relieved that they can hide the fact that they didn’t help pay for their dentist’s children to go to college.

The masks are a great equalizer: they make homely people less homely and attractive people less attractive. A typical supermarket is now full of average-looking people, although some have great taste in masks.

Image by iqbal nuril anwar from Pixabay

My fellow Americans,

This was the unfairest election in the history of the world. It was even unfairer than 2016, when I easily won the popular vote, but millions of illegal voters in California stole it from me and gave it to Crooked Hillary.

If you count the LEGAL votes in this election, I easily win. I was ahead by more than half-a-million votes in Pennsylvania, and then they started counting all the ballots that Hunter Biden had brought from Ukraine. Rudy Giuliani has found emails to prove this. In one of these very incriminating emails, Hunter said to a friend, “We have the votes to win Pennsylvania!”

But this election has been stolen in so many other ways. Rudy looked at voter names in three battleground states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and found that Joe Biden received five votes from a voter named Michael Jackson in Wisconsin, four votes from Michael Jackson in Michigan, and six votes from Michael Jackson in Pennsylvania. That’s 15 votes for Biden from a man who died in 2009. As Rudy said to me, Michael Jackson’s music lives on and so do his votes.

But it’s not just dead people who voted for Biden. Rudy also found a man in Philadelphia who bragged on Twitter that his family returned 12 mail-in ballots for Joe Biden, including ballots for two grandparents, two parents, five children, two dogs and one parrot. Here’s the worst part: the parrot wasn’t even born in America.

I am also very upset about all the pollsters who were guilty, so guilty, of voter suppression. They had a poll from Quinnipiac University that said that Biden would win Florida by 5 points, but I won Florida easily. Until these polls started coming out, no one had ever heard of Quinnipiac University. The media just made it up to convince my voters that I was definitely going to lose and they shouldn’t bother voting. I live in Florida, so I called some of my neighbors and asked them, “Has anyone ever polled you?” They said, “No, we have never been polled. And we have never heard of Quinnipiac University either.”

The Democrats were eager to use mail-in ballots, and now we know why. The liberal media kept bringing up mail-in ballots, mentioning “mail-in” so many times on TV. This was designed to confuse my female supporters. I tried to tell them, it’s mail-in, not male-in. But this is how the media suppressed my female vote. They didn’t know if they could participate.

Many of my supporters stood in line for hours to vote, while Biden told his people to take the easy way out and use mail-in ballots. Well, Election Day was a hot day in many parts of the country and Rudy Giuliani has email evidence to show that Democrats were controlling windmills near polling places, turning them into fans to ensure that clouds did not provide any shade for my voters. Some of them were so hot, they gave up and went home. I also heard that at one location in Atlanta, volunteers were handing out refreshments to voters in line, but anyone wearing a MAGA hat was given only a coupon that said “$50 off your first counseling session.”

Then there’s the unfair method of counting of votes. We were winning in all the key locations by a lot, and then our numbers started miraculously going down. None of our observers were allowed to watch, so we don’t know how ballots that were filled out for Donald Trump were somehow being added to Joe Biden’s totals. But Rudy has video evidence of a man who looks suspiciously like Hunter Biden visiting Wal-Mart to stock up on Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

All I want is an honest election, honest voting and an honest count. But how can it be honest if I didn’t win? It has to be rigged, because I never lose. I am not a loser.

I have filed many lawsuits and will take this to the Supreme Court if I need to. I will let Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett decide who won the election: Joe Biden or the man who wisely appointed them.

There’s a belief among many Americans that President Donald Trump is a habitual liar, that he tells lies as naturally as he applies orange tanning cream to his face. But a new book titled “Truth-Teller Trump” contends that Trump does not lie. He just speaks in acronyms.

One example cited by the author comes from the final presidential debate and other occasions, where Trump has said, “I have done more for black people than any other president since Abraham Lincoln.”

According to John Drummond, author of “Truth-Teller Trump,” the president is stating a fact: he has done MORE for black people than Lyndon B. Johnson, Barack Obama and other presidents.

MORE: mostly outrageous racist expressions

Most Americans may not be familiar with these acronyms, but they are the reason why Christian evangelical leaders continue to support Trump, says Drummond.  Before making any speech, Trump sends evangelical leaders a list of acronyms he plans to use.

“People often assume that President Trump is telling a lie,” said Drummond, “but Republicans like me know that the liberal media is just not digging deep enough, looking for the true meaning in his words.”

Drummond says that if you look deep enough, you will easily spot the acronym that Trump is using. During the final debate, Trump also said, “I am the least racist person in this room.”

LEAST: Leader exhibiting abhorrent supremacist tendencies

Here are some other examples that Drummond includes in his book.

1. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump often said this: “We are going to build the wall and make Mexico pay for it.”

PAY: point and yawn

2. On Jan. 21, 2017, Trump spoke about the size of the crowd at his inauguration: “Even the media said we had a huge turnout. It looked like a million and a half people.”

HUGE:  highly unreliable gigantic exaggeration

3. On July 12, 2017, Trump spoke about all his accomplishments: “We have done more in five months than practically any president ever.”

EVER: excluding virtually everyone recently

4. On Jan. 22, 2020, when America recorded its first case of COVID-19, Trump said, “We have it totally under CONTROL.”

CONTROL: counting on nincompoops to respect our lives

5. On April 27, 2020, while expressing optimism that the U.S. economy would rebound, Trump said, “We had the best economy in the history of the world, not just here, but anywhere in the world.”

BEST: blowhards everywhere say this

Drummond believes that Trump, even if he’s not re-elected, will continue to receive support from evangelical leaders, because he has closely followed the teachings of the Bible more than any other president.

“The Bible is quite clear that telling lies is a sin,” Drummond said. “But the Bible does not say anything about acronyms.”

Asked about the commandment that says, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” Drummond had this to say: “Trump has been married three times, but each of his wives considered him to be always loyal.”

LOYAL: Lusting over young attractive ladies

Ten-year-old Jacob and his 12-year-old sister, Rachel, loved visiting their grandpa and wished they could do it more than once a year. But he not only lived in the western part of the Divided States, requiring a one-hour flight in the air shuttle, he also lived deep in the woods, requiring a two-hour drive in a rented Hydrobishi. The children loved to see all the animals in the woods, but even more than that, they relished the stories that Grandpa Morwitz would read to them in front of the fireplace.

“Grandpa, grandpa, what are you going to read to us today?” Rachel asked excitedly on the very first evening. The children’s parents were preparing dinner in the kitchen, allowing grandpa to relax and spend time with his grandkids.

“Well,” said grandpa, “I have a new book. I received it just yesterday and have already read most of it.”

He took the thick hardback from his bookshelf and showed it to the kids. On the front, in orange letters, was the title: “Tales of Trump.”

“Are they scary stories?” Jacob asked.

“Quite scary. But you two are old enough, I think.”

“How many stories are there?” Rachel asked.

“Fifty. This is just Volume One. If you enjoy these stories, I will order the other four volumes.”

He turned the pages to the Table of Contents. “Which one should I read first? Ah yes, here’s one that I’m sure you’ll like. It’s called ‘The Unmasked Ruler.’ … Many moons ago, there lived a ruler named Trump. He was loved by many people and hated by many, too.”

“Oh, like spinach,” Rachel said.

“Sort of,” grandpa said. “The land that Trump ruled was a prosperous land, with an abundance of food, alcohol and prescription pills. But there came a year when a plague fell upon the land, a terrible disease that killed scores of people. It was caused by a virus called COVID and the wise men and women of those days—the ones who studied science and conducted experiments — advised everyone to wear masks to keep COVID from spreading from one person to another.”

“Halloween masks?” Rachel asked. “To scare the virus away?”

“No, these were not scary masks,” grandpa said, showing the children a picture in the book. “They just covered a person’s nose and mouth, and made some people less scary than usual. But Trump was not happy about any of this. He ranted and raged inside his white castle. He was already upset that mosquitoes and bed bugs were not only multiplying in great numbers across the land, they enjoyed a higher approval rating than him.

“He thought the disease would hurt his approval rating even more and cause people to revolt against him. At first, he told people not to worry about COVID and that it would miraculously go away. He also discouraged people from wearing masks and did not wear masks himself in public gatherings.”

“That’s stupid,” Jacob said.

“Jacob!” grandpa said.

“Mommy!” Rachel yelled. “Jacob used the s-word.”

“Sorry, Mommy, I couldn’t help it. Someone in grandpa’s story did something stupid.”

“Keep reading, grandpa,” Rachel said.

“Trump made fun of anyone who wore masks. He thought it made them look weak. Then one day, in the middle of the night, COVID showed up at the white castle. ‘Here I am, Mr. Trump,’ the virus said. ‘I hope you’re wearing your mask.’ Trump snickered. ‘You aren’t going to get me. Nobody can get me. People have tried, but everyone has failed. I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and no one would get me. You’re just a tiny virus. I’m a giant of a human being, the most powerful man in the world.’

“COVID roared, ‘You think you can stop me, Mr. Trump? I’ve infected all kinds of humans: bodybuilders and weaklings; geniuses and dunces; saints and Senators.’ Before Trump could say another word, COVID lunged toward him, saying, ‘Let’s see how powerful you really are, Mr. Trump!’

“Trump ducked and dodged and ran behind his wife, shouting, ‘Save me, Melania!’

“But she couldn’t save him from the virus, and Trump was soon revealing to all his subjects that he and Melania were both infected.”

“Oh no,” Jacob said. “Did they die?”

“Patience, Jacob, patience,” grandpa said. “When people heard that Trump was ill, there was great sadness in the land. ‘What will become of our beloved leader?’ many people asked. ‘Will we be deprived of his great wisdom and love?’ But in other parts of the land, people secretly rejoiced. ‘When you play with fire,’ they whispered, ‘you’re bound to get burned.'”

“What happened next, grandpa?” Rachel asked.

“Trump was admitted to a hospital, where the doctors and nurses saved him from COVID. Trump returned triumphantly to his white castle. ‘If you can survive the liberal media and Democrats,’ he crowed, ‘you can easily survive COVID.’ He ordered his staff to go to the Amazon and bring him the biggest monster they could find. ‘I beat COVID,’ he said. ‘I can beat anything. Let me show everyone, once and for all, how strong I am.’

“So his staff went online and ordered a 10-foot python from India. When it arrived, Trump arranged to wrestle the python in front of a TV crew.'”

“Oh no,” Rachel said. “What happened? Did he kill the python?”

“No, the python swallowed him whole. He disappeared inside the python.  He was inside the python for three hours before his staff shot the python, cut it open and pulled Trump out.'”

“Three hours?” Jacob said. “Why did it take them so long to get him out?”

“They were deciding between him and the python.”

“Poor python,” Rachel said.

“Was Trump okay?” Jacob asked.

“Yes, he was just fine. After washing off and changing into a fresh suit, he took a photo standing victoriously over the python and shared it on social media, saying, ‘I pummeled this python. Who’s next?’  And his supporters were overjoyed. ‘Our leader has truly been blessed with great strength,’ they said. But other people were not happy. ‘You can take Trump out of the snake,’ they whispered to themselves, ‘but you can never take the snake out of Trump.'”

Students at Case Western Elementary School were excited on Tuesday to attend the first debate between Donny Crump, incumbent president of the student council, and challenger Joey Widen. Social studies teacher Chris Willis agreed to serve as the moderator.

Mr. Willis: “Welcome to the student council presidential debate between fifth grader Donny and sixth grader Joey. I have divided this debate into three important topics: student budget, bullying and the lunch menu. Let’s begin with the budget. Donny, what are your ideas for increasing the budget, so that the student council has more money for activities.”

Donny: “Thank you, Mr. Willis. Let me begin by saying that the student budget during my presidency has been the greatest budget in the history of our school, greater than the budget in any other school in any other country around the world. But I have a plan to make it even greater. This year, every student will be asked to pay an activity fee of $10, and the student president, re-elected unanimously, will contribute an additional 75 cents from my personal allowance.”

Mr. Willis: “Your turn, Joey. What are your ideas?”

Donny: “He has no ideas. ZERO ideas. His dad does not even give him an allowance!”

Mr. Willis: “Donny! It’s Joey’s turn to speak! Please give him a chance to speak.”

Donny: “His brother got a ‘D’ in social studies. Isn’t that true, Mr. Willis? And I heard that his uncle has a drinking problem.”

Mr. Willis: “Donny, Donny, Donny … don’t make me call your parents. You have to give Joey a chance to speak.”

Donny: “Okay, let him speak. He has nothing smart to say.”

Mr. Willis: “Go ahead, Joey. Speak.”

Joey: “Is it my turn?”

Mr. Willis: “Yes, Joey, it’s your turn. Go ahead and speak.”

Joey: “Is the microphone on?”

Mr. Willis: “Yes, the mic is on, Joey. Go ahead and speak.”

Joey: “Well, I believe we should do some fundraising, perhaps sell some candy, to increase our budget. We shouldn’t ask every student to pay $10. Not all of them can afford it.”

Donny: “It’s only $10! Who can’t afford $10? I spend $10 on cheese curls every day. My dad gives me an allowance. Why would anybody vote for a boy who can’t even get his dad to give him an allowance?”

Mr. Willis: “That’s enough, Donny. Let’s go to our next topic: bullying. As you know, bullying is a major problem in our school. What are your ideas for dealing with it? Joey, you first.”

Joey: “We need to increase awareness, make people realize that bullying … “

Donny: “There is no bullying in this school. Nobody gets bullied. I mean, there was some bullying at one time, but that was before I became president. These days, nobody gets bullied. Except wimps like Joey, of course. And they deserve to be bullied.”

Joey: “Are you saying that you support bullying?”

Donny: “No, I never said that. Don’t put words in my mouth, Joey, or you’ll have to deal with me after school.”

Mr. Willis: “That’s enough, Donny. Let’s move on to our last topic: the lunch menu. Some students would like to see the menu expanded to include burritos and butter chicken. As you know, 20 percent of our student population is Mexican-American and 10 percent is Indian-American. How do you feel about a more diverse lunch menu, Donny?”

Donny: “What’s wrong with the food we are eating right now? I don’t have anything against burrito chicken, but what’s wrong with what we have right now? We have had the same menu for five years and nobody has ever become sick.”

Joey: “Are you suggesting that you can get sick from Mexican and Indian food?”

Donny: “No, I’m saying that you can’t get sick from hamburgers. Have you ever heard of anybody getting sick from eating a burger?”

Joey: “Well, scientists at the Centers for Disease Control say that …”

Donny: “Scientists? What a nerd! He’s actually going to tell us about scientists.”

Joey: “You don’t believe in science!”

Donny: “Of course, I believe in science. Just ask Mrs. Conner. I have an ‘A+’ in science.”

Joey: “That’s a lie. How can he have an ‘A+’ when Mrs. Conner hasn’t given a test yet this semester? But why don’t you tell everyone your grade in science last year, Donny?”

Donny: “It’s none of your business! Why don’t you tell everybody why you didn’t win the spelling bee last year? Why did you lose to a foreigner?”

Joey: “Jignesh is not a foreigner. He was born in this country.”

Donny: “Jignesh sounds like a foreign name to me!”

Joey: “Shut up, Donny. Jignesh is a friend of mine.”

Donny: “Is Jignesh even allowed to vote in this election?”

Mr. Willis: “That’s enough, Donny. We’re out of time. Let me conclude with a message to all students: Please make sure you turn in your vote on time. Let’s make every vote count.”

Donny: “Not Jignesh. Don’t vote, Jignesh!”

The polls look good for Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president in America, putting him as many as 9 percentage points ahead of President Donald Trump nationally. But the polls also looked good for Hillary Clinton in 2016, yet Trump managed to eke out a victory.

Because America is a democratic country and boasts one of the finest forms of democracy in the world, the candidate who received the most votes was declared the loser.

After receiving almost three million fewer votes than Clinton, Trump got to celebrate at a huge victory party. At his inauguration, quite aptly, there were three million fewer supporters than he expected.

In the upcoming presidential election, Trump is almost guaranteed to receive fewer votes than Biden. But the big question on everyone’s mind is this: Will Trump be celebrating victory again or calling it a rigged election?

Nobody really knows for sure, except M.K. Damodaran, a 68-year-old numerologist from the South Indian state of Kerala. He has analyzed all the significant numbers, such as the date Trump was born and the date of the election, and determined that Trump will be re-elected as Tweeter-in-chief.

As Damodaran told IANS, “November 3, 2020 is the day of the U.S. presidential election, which is strongly lucky for incumbent President Trump. His date of birth is June 14, 1946. As such, his birth number is 5 (1 + 4). Besides, he was born in the sun sign Gemini that is ruled by planet Mercury. Number 5 is represented by planet Mercury.”

What about Biden’s numbers? Damodaran has also analyzed them, determining that the former vice-president’s chances of winning the top office are similar to a random American woman’s chances of going untouched during an elevator ride with Trump.

Someone needs to inform Biden of this, because the poor man is spending millions of dollars on a presidential campaign that is destined to fail. It would be wise for him to concede early and save everyone a lot of trouble. Let’s move Trump’s inauguration to Nov. 3, so he doesn’t have to worry about re-election and can finally tell everyone the truth about COVID-19: “It was a big mistake not to take it seriously from the outset, tens of thousands of lives could have been saved, and I take full responsibility for allowing Joe Biden to mess up like this.” 

Perhaps you’re skeptical about a numerologist’s ability to predict the outcome of an election. If so, I’d like to know whom we should rely upon instead. Achilles the Psychic Cat?

Achilles is a deaf Russian cat who correctly predicted the winners of several soccer matches at the 2018 World Cup. All we’d have to do is put two bowls of tuna in front of the cat, one bearing a Biden flag, and the other a MAGAA (Make America Great Again, Again) flag.

If he picks the Biden bowl, the CNN headline can say: “Psychic Cat Picks Biden to Win Election!” If he picks the MAGAA bowl, it can say: “Another Russian Meddles with U.S. Election!”

But Achilles, unfortunately, is not perfect. He incorrectly predicted that Nigeria would upset Argentina at the World Cup, causing a burst of premature dancing in the African country.

It would make more sense, perhaps, to rely on public polls. The problem with polls is that people don’t always do what they say they will. A voter named John Languid may tell the pollster that he likes Biden and strongly believes in exercising his right to vote. But on Election Day, Languid may decide that he needs to consult a doctor before exercising.

Another voter, Rohit Sharma, may tell a pollster that he’s unlikely to vote. But on Election Day, he may decide that voting is an important duty for every citizen, and it’s incumbent on him to take it seriously, especially since his wife has put a sign on the couch that says, “Non-voters sleep here.”

Pollsters can usually predict which presidential candidate will win more votes nationally, but figuring out who will win the Electoral College is much harder. The Electoral College is a state-by-state, winner-takes-all system that was created by the Founding Fathers of America to ensure that a rural state such as Wyoming would have a significant say in the country’s leadership, despite having a population slightly lower than the average Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Here’s how the Electoral College works. Imagine that three families have come together to watch a Netflix movie on an 85-inch TV. They’re choosing between two critically acclaimed films: the American movie “Moonlight” and the Indian movie “Sairat.” The hosting Joshi family has nine members, including grandparents, and all nine choose “Sairat”; the Davis family has five members and three choose “Moonlight” while two choose “Sairat”; and the Harper family has four members and two choose “Moonlight,” one chooses “Sairat” and one votes for a third movie that has no chance of winning.

Jim Davis gleefully announces the result: “The Davis and Harper families have both chosen ‘Moonlight.’ Sorry, Joshis, you’ve been outvoted. But thank you for your big screen.”

Meera Joshi objects: “But 12 people voted for ‘Sairat’ and only five for ‘Moonlight.'”

“I know,” Jim responds: “Isn’t democracy great?”

It was Mukund’s idea.

“Why are you just sitting around?” he said to his wife one morning during the coronavirus pandemic. “Why don’t you do something? It is good to keep busy. That is what they say.”

“Who says that?” Meena responded. “Is it the people who are unable to relax? If they want to be busy, let them be busy. But I like to relax. Is that okay, Mook?”

As if to emphasize the point, she propped her legs on the coffee table, grabbed the remote and turned on Netflix. “Time for some Nadiya Hussain,” she said.

Mook sighed. “Not her again. You have watched her cook so many dishes, but I haven’t seen you cook even one of them.”

“Yes, it’s true,” she said. “And you have watched so many football games, but I haven’t seen you run after a ball even once.”

Mook smirked, pushed himself off the couch and limped to the kitchen to refill his coffee mug. He had pulled a muscle during his daily exercise routine: searching the front yard for the newspaper. The delivery person seemed to throw it to a different spot every day.

As the coffee machine heated up, he picked up the Lafayette Journal & Courier from the dining table, unrolled it and scanned the headlines. He returned to the living room, placed the paper on Meena’s lap with the “Life” section facing her and pointed to an article at the top. “How to Sew a Quick and Easy Cloth Face Mask,” the headline said.

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