“Mnyah, myehh–well, ehh, kids–ehh, mnyehh…”

Senator Ted Kennedy stood in front of the Peanut Gallery, attempting to introduce a “Tom and Jerry” cartoon. The children shifted uncomfortably in their bleacher seats.

“This, ehh, impending cah-toon, ehh, mnyehh…” Ted Kennedy struggled to find the words to explain to the kids what they were about to see. “It, ehh…is about a cat, who, err, ehh…”

A little girl in a frilly dress daintily raised her hand.

“You, little gull,” said Ted Kennedy. “What, err, uhh, have you to say at this, ahh, juncture?”

“Well, Tom is a cat who is always trying to catch a mouse named Jerry,” said the little girl. “But Jerry always outwits Tom, and…well, ha-ha, sometimes it’s pretty funny.”

“Oh, err, is that so?” said Ted Kennedy. “Myehh, ehh…well then, let’s, ehh, proceed with this err, uhh, cah-toon, then.” He looked offstage at the producer, who was shaking his head.

“Well, err, it appears, then, that due to some, err, technical difficulty…err, mnyah, the, uh, cah-toon will not be, actually, err, presented here today, mnyehh, and so says old Ted Kennedy.” He shrugged stiffly and grinned at the kids, which scared some of them. One of them actually thought Ted Kennedy’s head was Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which he had seen a picture of in an astronomy book once.

Ted Kennedy had a sudden inspiration. He pointed offstage and said, “Look ovah there, ehh, kids.” With their attention thus diverted, he turned and wobbled on his tiptoes behind a large piece of set dressing which resembled a circus wagon. When the children looked back, they wondered where he had gone. A few moments later he stepped into view again, his arms outstretched. “Ha-ha, look, it’s, ehh, me,” he said. “Ehh, surprise.”

The children weren’t quite sure how they were expected to respond. They knew they were on TV, and they were aware of shows like “Howdy Doody” and “Romper Room”, but none of these had prepared them for the experience of being in such close proximity to Senator Ted Kennedy for an extended period of time without proper emotional support. Some of them were slightly nauseated by the physical sensation of his gravitational pull; others felt somehow certain that before the show was over, he was going to eat them.

Ted Kennedy looked around until his eyes lit upon a baseball bat that was intended to be used later on in something called “The Happy Piñata Game.” He picked it up and said, “Ehh, watch this, kids.” With that, he swung the baseball bat directly into Camera Three with both hands and began to smash it to pieces. In the control room, the director winced as one of the monitors sputtered and went blank. “What is he doing?” he said into his headphone. The man on the other end answered, “Beats the hell out of me.”

Ted Kennedy kept swinging the bat until he was satisfied that Camera Three was totally destroyed. “Heh-hehhh, ehh, look at that, kids,” he said. “You see, ehh, with a nice, big bat like this, err, you can wreck things but good.” He hefted it in his hands with a satisfied grin and then waddled over to Cap’n Ted’s Treasure Chest, which was filled with prizes intended to be handed out to the kids during the show. “And now, mnyehh, if you’ll observe this, ehh, what I’m about to do, err, I’ll smash the hell out of this crap, myaahh, and so says old Ted Kennedy.”

Awkwardly, with a furious physical exertion that his sedentary body was unaccustomed to, he began to shatter the toys, games, and other colorful items into a million pieces that went flying all over the soundstage, while muttering things like “ohh, look at that” and “mnyehh, that’s a good one” during the process. A grinning Bozo the Clown head landed in a little girl’s lap at one point, and she started to cry. The little boy sitting next to her patted her shoulder consolingly, his lips quivering. All of the children had begun to form a bond–the kind of lasting, deep-seated bond that only those who have suffered through a traumatic experience together, such as prisoners of war or political hostages, will ever know.

“Senator! SENATOR!” the producer whispered hoarsely from offstage. “The cartoon! We’ve got it ready to go!”

Ted Kennedy angrily hurled the baseball bat aside and went over to stand on his mark in front of the Peanut Gallery. “Fine, then!” he wheezed. “Show the stupid, ehh, cah-toon!” The jolly strains of the “Tom and Jerry” theme piped into the studio as a monitor flickered with images of the cartoon characters going about their lighthearted antics. By now, most of the children were openly weeping.

“Grrrr, mnyahh, I wasn’t done smashing those, ehh, things!” Ted Kennedy wheezed petulantly. “I’m firing that stupid, ehh, producer person. And what’s this ridiculous, ehh, display?” he added, pointing at the monitor. “Is this what they call, mnyehh, a ‘cah-toon’? It’s rubbish! Ehh, RUBBISH!” At that point, he noticed at last that the entire Peanut Gallery had broken down into violent, wracking sobs. Every last child cried uncontrollably, totally unaffected by the breezy fun of the cartoon.

“You’re all, ehh, fired, too!” he exclaimed. “And so says old Ted Kennedy!” And on the next episode of “The Ted Kennedy Show”, there were no children in the Peanut Gallery. And there were no cartoons. The bleachers were filled with senators, and they all had baseball bats. And Cap’n Ted’s Treasure Chest was filled to overflowing with toys, games, and other colorful items, but they weren’t to be handed out to children–they were to be smashed. And there were extra cameras to smash, too. And prostitutes. And everybody was drinking a whole lot and they were all drunk, and Ted Kennedy wasn’t wearing any pants. And the people watching at home thought to themselves, “This is all some kind of thinly-disguised political commentary, isn’t it?” But it wasn’t. It was just a silly, pointless series of events.


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