By Sandy McIntosh
The three of us—Albert, Tom and me—were seated on the steps of the Academic Building at New York Military Academy, reminiscing about our school days there in Cornwall 50 years ago and our friendship with Donald Trump. In the shade of the summer sun, we speculated about the possible near-future, when Donald might win the presidency and take up residence in the White House.
“When we were in school,” Tom said, “John F. Kennedy had just been elected president. There was a big to-do about the transformation of the White House from Eisenhower’s day.”
“When Ike and Mamie were there,” Albert said, “the high point of their day seems to have been TV dinners on little trays in front of the television.”
“But when the Kennedys arrived, that changed,” I said. “They called the Kennedy White House ‘Camelot.'”
“Jackie Kennedy could speak French, I think.”
“She hired museum people to redecorate the White House.”
“The place was full of culture.”
“But then Kennedy died and Johnson set up a spit in the Oval Office and roasted a hog. Didn’t he?”
We didn’t think so. Not quite.
“So what will the Trumps do when they’re in the White House?” I asked.
“First thing, they’ll put up the big TRUMP sign on the White House roof, right? So big and shiny you’ll be able to read it from Mars!”
“I don’t think they’ll let him do that.”
We sat for a while, the sun slowly setting behind us.
“You don’t think he’ll try to redecorate the White House in the style of his casinos? Faux Greek statuary everywhere, and everything made of gold?”
“Maybe they’ll work at creating a Trump Camelot. I mean, JFK had his famous PT-109 rescue, and his book, Profiles In Courage, to build on.”
“But what does Donald have to build a myth on?”
“Mar-e-Lago, Maureen Dowd said. That’s not in bankruptcy yet.”
“But that’s slim pickings, for a myth, I mean.”
“Let’s think about it. He’s still a handsome guy, hair and tan aside. And his family is beautiful!”
“I saw a picture of them at a Sunday dinner in his condo. All of them dressed to the nines. The kids so neat. It took me back to our family dinners in the 1960s. Something so retro.”
“And they all have such white teeth.”
“Yes. Shining. Reflecting the sunlight.”
“Don’t get carried away,” said Albert.
“Well, Trump’s White House won’t be Camelot,” I said.
“What will it be?” said Albert.
“I got it,” said Tom, clearing his throat. “Not Camelot. More like Ken and Barbie’s Dream Castle!”
“Ah!” one of us sighed. But we all saw the vision: the little plastic people on the White House lawn. And Vladimir Putin, perhaps, a snotty kid sitting there kicking the pieces around, creating his own little dream worlds, showing us how it’s supposed to be done.
Sandy McIntosh first met Donald Trump at the Atlantic Beach Club in 1961. They spent the next four years together as military school cadets. He’s written about these formative experiences for the Long Island Press and The Daily Beast, and subsequently been interviewed by Le Figaro (France), Die Zeit and Zeitungsverlag (Germany), Jyllands-Posten (Denmark), Politico and The Washington Post, as well as Israel’s Channel 10, German Public Television’s ZDF, and for an upcoming Frontline program set to air on PBS Sept. 29, 2016. He is the author of 13 books. He has taught creative writing at Hofstra University and Long Island University. His A Hole In the Ocean: A Hamptons’ Apprenticeship was published in February 2016 by Marsh Hawk Press.