Amendments to the Constitution Passed by the 109th Congress, While Drunk

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Amendment XXVIII

Marriage in the United States shall be construed only as the union of a man and an authentic Dukes of Hazzard action figure. All other marriages are hereby dissolved.

Amendment XXIX

The Congress shall have the power to prohibit the physical desecration of the American flag, if said flag is worn on Spandex biker shorts by Persons weighing greater than three hundred pounds.

Amendment XXX

Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, except in the case of any Unsolicited Anecdotes by Representative Kenny Hulshof of Missouri, concerning his Fantasy Baseball League, or by Representative Thelma Drake of Virginia, concerning her Five Kitties, or by Senator John McCain of Arizona, concerning his sufferings as a Prisoner of War, about which we have heard enough already.

Amendment XXXI

The Congress shall have the power to compel Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania to do something about his coffee breath.

Amendment XXXII

The twenty-fifth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States, delineating the line of succession to the Presidency, is hereby repealed. In the case of the removal of the President from office by his death or resignation, the Presidency shall pass to the member of Congress who, by immediate demonstration thereof, can consume the greatest number of Alabama Slammers in one minute, without vomiting for at least one hour thereafter.

Amendment XXXIII

The following amendment must be enforced.

Amendment XXXIV

The preceding amendment must be ignored.

Amendment XXXV

On at least one day per year, the Supreme Court shall hear a case while completely naked, and shall rule in favor of whomever goes the longest without laughing.

Amendment XXXVI

When the President enters a room, rather than “Hail to the Chief,” the assembled Musicians shall play Three Six Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”

Amendment XXXVII

The first Thursday after Labor Day is hereby designated “Opposite Day,” on which the opposite of all of the Amendments contained herein shall become law, and must be enforced.

Amendment XXXVIII

The Congress shall have the power to conduct panty raids without notice.

Amendment XXXIX

No Senator or Representative shall address the assembled Congress without first capturing a Greased Pig, and holding said pig throughout his or her remarks, without benefit of rope, gloves, or other restraining devices.

Amendment XL

The laws of the State of Wyoming are hereby repealed, and replaced entirely with the rules of the popular board game “Clue.”

Amendment XLI

Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted, except when a two-thirds majority of Congress shall find the punishment totally awesome, such as the launching of a Prisoner from a cannon into the Hoover Dam, or any punishment involving giant Scorpions, or the ejection of the Prisoner into Outer Space without a proper Helmet, just to see what happens.

Amendment XLII

No member of Congress shall be compelled to clean the carpet in the Old Senate Chamber, no matter who peed on it.

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All Together Now

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Hey gang!

I’ve been thinking about getting the band back together for a reunion tour.

I believe I speak for all of us when I say that graduating high school broke us up much too soon — that the Northview Knights (Classes of 86-88) ended on the worst possible note.

We deserved better than that, if you ask me. My mom thinks so, too.

That’s why I’m working to organize something on a national scale this go-around — not just Friday night football games and Fourth of July parades down Main Street.

The big-shot L.A. agent I found on the Internet says it’s a simple matter of getting the former band members on board with my idea. He should know. He’s worked with famous acts like Journey and that one band with that one song.

Of course, I’m sure you’re as delighted with the idea of a reunion tour as I am. Maybe you even had the same thought, but didn’t have the free time and family support necessary to draft a legally binding contract and a friendly little cover letter like this one.

Really, I shouldn’t take all the credit. My mom’s been an enormous help.

She understands how important marching band was to all of us — with the possible exception of the Wilkinson twins, the third and fourth chair trombonists with the issues that landed them in prison the summer after high school.

Marching band was the beacon of hope that guided the rest of us through those dark, painful years of teen despair.

If you’re like me, you want to see that glimmer of hope one more time before you get old and die.

Also, I would hate to name names, but I know a clarinetist or two who could use the extra money. Those diet pills don’t pay for themselves, do they, ladies?

I’m open to conversation about this, but I don’t think we should bring a squad of flag twirlers on this tour. All those tramps ever did for us back in the day was initiate our drummers into manhood. My mom says those girls probably all ended up in dirty movies, but I’ve never seen anyone I recognize and the big-shot L.A. agent hasn’t heard of them.

Dumping the flag squad, the Wilkinsons and any other former Knights not allowed to cross state lines will leave us with extra room on the bus. That’s why I’m trying to find somebody who worked in the school’s A/V department and still has access to video recording equipment. We need a friend of the band traveling with us, documenting our reunion for a DVD we can sell at our gigs and on the Internet.

It’s true! The big-shot L.A. agent says that anybody can have an Internet site. It doesn’t matter if you work out of a fancy office on the coast or rent a room in your mom’s basement.

Without that DVD, we’re going to have a pretty sparse merchandise table: just the t-shirts and temporary tattoos I got for cheap. Remember the school mascot Northview used before state attorneys notified them that what the Knight character was depicted doing to the Native American character was neither historically accurate nor politically correct? Well, he’s still our mascot.

If you find yourself talking to former band members who aren’t so excited about the reunion idea, dangle that merch revenue in front of them. Let that big green carrot do the talking. If there’s one thing I learned as the drum major of the Northview Knights, it was that you have to do whatever it takes to get folks going in the same direction. This time that direction is aimed at the bottom line.

My mom says my business thinking and leadership skills are why I deserve to be paid more than the rest of you. But don’t worry, guys. We’ll be splitting DVD, t-shirt and temporary tattoo revenues — just not 50/50.

If we wind up getting offered our own reality TV show out of this reunion tour, we’ll renegotiate. Or at least talk about it. The big-shot L.A. agent says that’s how things usually work.

But I’m ahead of myself.

To make sure this reunion is the biggest possible payday it can be for all of us, we’ll be keeping tour expenses to an absolute minimum. No more of those ridiculous wool uniforms that need to be dry-cleaned after every performance. Instead, we’ll be hitting the field in matching velour running suits my mom found in the JCPenney catalog. Not only are mine and my mom’s comfy! They’re fashionable, too.

I’ve also put down a layaway payment on a portable fog machine — a secondhand Phantom Gun 2404 — to distract attention from sloppy marching patterns, since that was always a problem for us.

What about the music, you’re probably thinking. I’ve also given that some thought.

I seem to remember that not everyone turned in their sheet music at the end of each semester like they were supposed to, so the band shouldn’t have to purchase rights for all of the tunes we’ll play. With any luck, some of us will still have our parts memorized. As long as we don’t go posting mp3s of our shows all over the Internet, the big-shot L.A. agent says copyright infringement shouldn’t be a problem.

His replies to my many e-mails have been nothing but encouraging.

And I still have my drum major baton, I’m pretty sure. If I can’t dig it up, I’ll expense a new one.

It all sounds too good to be true, I realize. But this reunion really is that sweet, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity everyone imagines when buying lottery tickets at the Stop-n-Go to keep from crying.

But unlike those losing lottery tickets, these odds are in our favor.

To cash in. To live the dream. To travel this great nation of ours in a decommissioned school bus that’s been re-built to run on bio-diesel because it’s better for the environment and I think I can arrange an endorsement deal.

It’s now or never, people. If we wait another 20 years, we’ll only embarrass ourselves.

So complete the contract I’ve sent along with this letter and return it in triplicate as soon as possible. I’ve got a big yellow envelope stamped and ready to mail. All I’m lacking are signed contracts from the band and that big-shot L.A. agent’s street address.

Need I mention again that our environmentally friendly tour bus is going to be mobbed after every show by passionate groupies interested in nothing more than deflowering the virgins among us?

My mom hates it when I bring up the lovemaking, but I’ll be out of her house soon, so I don’t care.

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Lake Delavan Days

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For others, the word “vacation” evokes idyllic childhood memories of family togetherness and carefree summer days spent at some garden spot by a seashore or lake. For me, “vacation” has always meant a special family time, too — a time where families retreat far from civilization for the express purpose of torturing one another in an enclosed space without distractions. It doesn’t take a $90-an-hour Freudian to trace this feeling directly back to that fateful Luchs family trip to Lake Delavan, Wisconsin.

The year was 1964. Kennedy was freshly planted in Arlington National Cemetery, having been killed (as Oliver Stone has since informed us) by a conspiracy involving 93 percent of the American people and at least two of Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey and Dewey (although there is no direct evidence that Louie helped Oswald pull the trigger, he is now known to have been on a first-name basis with both Jack Ruby and Sirhan Sirhan). The Beatles were continuing their full frontal assault on America’s youth. Viet Nam was becoming the number one vacation spot for draft-age U.S. males.

The Luchses had just purchased a peculiar little foreign car, the Citroen 2CV. This vehicle is several sizes larger than a Tonka Toy and almost as powerful. It’s basically a Volkswagen Bug with an inferiority complex and only two cylinders. The man who sold it to us — a family friend later convicted of extortion and threatening to set off a bomb in the San Francisco Hilton, but that’s another story — fondly described the 2CV as “the perfect desert fighting machine.” He claimed that if you ran out of motor oil, you could always keep a Citroen going by filling the crankcase with ripe bananas. More than once our father caught us attempting to put this intriguing theory to the test.

The 2CV could seat two comfortably. In a pinch, four people could be squeezed in if they were willing to forego minor comforts like breathing. Our car held all nine of us: our parents, Robert and Jeannine, and (in descending order of age and location in the food chain), Hilde, Kurt, Murph, Helmut, Sarah, Rolf and Cara. Then there was our “luggage” (paper bags full of old clothes), the inflatable rubber boat, life preservers, a week’s worth of food and two cats, Leopold and Loeb.

The main excitement on the trip up came when one of the cats leapt from the back seat onto Dad’s back as he was negotiating a left turn. He screamed, “Get it off, get it off!” but this only amused his passengers and caused the cat to dig in its claws, piercing his Goldwater T-shirt and drawing enough blood to simulate a lovely tie-dyed effect. The rest of the ride is a blur to me now, since I spent most of it vomiting into a bag of Hilde’s knitting. Like most healthy American families, ours included both normal vomiters (NVs) and projectile vomiters (PVs). The difference is, if an NV keeps his head in a paper bag most of the time, his fellow travelers will only enjoy his experience vicariously, whereas there is no escape from the PV. Handing a PV a paper bag is like putting a cherry bomb in a coffee can: It simply makes for a messier explosion. I was an NV, but Sarah was a PV, and by the time we reached Delavan the interior of the car looked like a gutted animal.

On first sight Lake Delavan appeared to be North America’s largest mud puddle. At no point could you see bottom. Yet it was so shallow you could wade out for a quarter of a mile and never get your head wet. Not that you really wanted to get your head wet in Lake Delavan. It seemed to have become the final resting place for all the sewage, crumpled gum wrappers, rusty beer cans and broken glass in the tri-state area. Dull, sticky soap bubbles covered everything, bubbles that emitted a sickening stench when popped.

The cabin was owned by an old Polish woman from Chicago and was apparently furnished with cast-offs from the Warsaw ghetto. Before the electricity was turned on we wandered from room to room, weeping like icons at the shabbiness of it all. “What’s that crunching noise?” asked Rolf. “Sounds like Rice Crispies,” said Hilde. When the lights came on we discovered that the cabin was carpeted with dead flies. Helmut got Sarah to eat one by convincing her she would magically acquire the power of flight. She was indeed airborne for several seconds after jumping from the cabin roof, but problems with low visibility and faulty hydraulics forced her to make an emergency landing in some sumac bushes.

The only water sport we encountered at Lake Delavan was trying to get the toilet to flush. We quickly ascertained that any amount of toilet paper, even a single square, would cause an overflow. This more than anything else drove us away. Although we had paid for the entire week, by Thursday we had all had enough. We packed up and left late that afternoon with Dad even more dazed and confused than usual.

Dad was always in a world of his own, and never more so than when he was driving. He was very superstitious. He thought it was bad luck to look at a map before a trip…or during a trip…or at any time, for that matter. He also believed it was poor form to accost strangers with questions like, “Where the hell are we?” And he nursed an instinctive fear of policemen bordering on divine awe. (There must be genes for all these traits, because I regret to say they were passed on to me!)

Unfortunately, when the 2CV was fully locked and loaded with Luches it was unable to exceed 35 miles per hour, 10 miles below the minimum. A state trooper (who probably thought he had stepped into a remake of “The Grapes of Wrath”) soon pulled us over and advised Dad that he would have to leave the main highway and use back roads with lower speed limits the rest of the way. When we turned off the main road we got lost immediately and stayed lost. Mom held the thankless post of navigator. Her pathetic attempts to read the map by flashlight while in motion so infuriated Dad that he snatched the map away from her, wrapped it around the steering wheel with one hand and turned the flashlight on it with the other. This maneuver caused us to narrowly miss an A&W Root Beer truck.

The afternoon wore into twilight. It began to rain. The winter solstice drew near. I don’t remember when — or if — we ever got home, and I don’t want to remember. And I’ll thank you not to mention the word “vacation” again.

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My Diorama: A Proposal

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Dear Mr. Hansen,

Hi! It’s me, Brandon Willheit, from your 4th grade class? I plan to sign this letter at the bottom, but I figure why not tell you right away who’s going to make this the best year of your life ever. (Start writing your Milkweed School District “Teacher of the Year” acceptance speech!) In fact, even though your 1989 Chevy Cavalier is totally sweet, maybe it’s time buy a new ride. And why stop there? You really should get a mailing address.

It’s me, Brandon Willheit. (5th row, 3rd seat, next to the window?)

About our assignment to make a diorama of “a major event from Kansas history” — can I run this proposal by you first? My diorama is going to be so “kick-A” and I’ll need to get so much stuff for it (glue, cotton balls, 750 gallons of water, etc.), I’d hate to get started without your go-ahead. So please spend some time with this – maybe during one of your frequent smoking breaks. Or when you’re not screaming.

Hold on to your hat! (Or, in your case, your lime-green beret.) My diorama will rule all other dioramas. It won’t be just 3-D, but 4-D! (Possibly 5-D!) It will mean the end of dioramas. So find something else for next year’s 4th graders to do. Collages, maybe. Finger painting. When is it due again?

Yes, I know that my report cards, standardized state testing and the school counselor all say the same thing about me. (Luckily, my diorama won’t require the use of improper fractions, long division, short division, math in general, science, social studies, music, physical education, or “life skills.”) But I’ve got something a report card can’t report on: INSPIRATION! I’d also appreciate it if “poor personal hygiene” would stop showing up on my report card, too.

Drum roll! Here it is: My diorama will show Kansas as it was 65 million years ago, when our state was covered by the Western Interior Sea of the late Cretaceous period. When giant mosasaurs and plesiosaurs prowled the waves. When sea turtles grew to the size of race cars (I’ll use actual toy race cars). And don’t forget the big megalodon. (Big shark!) All made of pipe cleaners, toothpicks, clay, “found objects” (from my sister’s room), that 750 gallons of water I mentioned, and 90 canisters of bathroom caulk. I can see it all in my head. And soon, we all will see it in our classroom — through a special viewing window that will have to be cut through the wall.

Sure, I’ll need a few things from the school. Especially a very long hose and a faucet. And we’ll need to move the desks into the hallway and re-tack all wall hangings to at least four feet from the floor, clear of the water line. Will the custodian be mad? I know you two “hang out” in the boiler room during recess. Maybe you can smooth it over with him then? Ask him if he’s got a power saw I can borrow.

Mr. Hansen, this is your chance to grab greatness. Think how great my diorama will be for the school! Maybe Milkweed Elementary will be on the Discovery Channel for a change instead of A&E’s Justice Files. (By the way, that actor didn’t look like you at all.) Mr. Hansen, they might even let you teach class without the assistant principal watching you on that video camera that moves whenever you do. The buzzing sound and the blinking light are kinda scary!

I could go on and on about my diorama, but the cafeteria is serving carrot coins today. So please, make this happen for me. You and I have a lot common, Mr. Hansen. We both cry in class. The court makes us take the same kind of “mood pills.” Well, at least take them. (Backslider!) Who else but you can understand my diorama? Like I said, it’s going to change your life. And, considering the way things have been going, not a moment too soon, am I right?

Yours truly,

Brandon Willheit, 4th grade. (5th row, 3rd seat, next to the window.)

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