Jared Changes The Water Cooler

And General John F. Kelly teaches everyone a lesson.

GENERAL KELLY has moved most of the White House’s desks, including JARED’s, into the corridor. It’s a makeshift classroom, and GENERAL KELLY is standing in the middle of it. There are four bullet points scrawled across the white board. The first reads, “Need adults in all rooms.” The second reads, “Adults plural. Rooms plural.” The third reads, “Do NOT erase ever.” The fourth reads, “The President reveres all generals/cops.” KELLYANNE CONWAY is distributing two half-sheets of paper to each staff person present. JARED walks in, headphones on and listening to Pharrell’s song, “Happy.” He is singing along, and smiling to himself as he remembers that he is not, in fact, happy.

GENERAL KELLY [literally waiting for JARED to stop singing]: Don’t stop on account of us, Mr. Kushner.

[JARED stops singing as he sits at his desk.]

GENERAL KELLY [confidently, like a teacher from the movies who gives tough love to his students]: The first sheet Mrs. Conway is passing out to you is duties and responsibilities for the week. Mrs. Conway, you’ll note, is listed as the beadle. That’s why she’s passing out the handouts. She’ll also assist me generally, and function as my laugh track when I point to her like this. [GENERAL KELLY points to KELLYANNE CONWAY like he’s hosting “The Price is Right.” She claps and laughs accordingly.] Ms. Trump is assigned to monitoring her father’s Twitter usage. And Mr. Kushner, it’s your job to ensure the water cooler is filled.

[JARED flashes back to third grade, when his mother would drop him off to class, after his appointment with the speech teacher. “Don’t allow anyone who hasn’t greeted you to use your Gameboy,” she’d whisper to him, as she nudged him into the classroom.]

GENERAL KELLY [manically, like a teacher from the movies who will later be fired by an icy schoolmaster]: The second sheet is your daily quiz. This administration is a farce, but it doesn’t have to be a stupid one. Every morning, you’ll be quizzed on the previous night’s reading. There was no reading last night so today’s quiz has been pulled out of my ass. By the way, only I can swear. The rest of you, if I hear you swearing, will fill out one of these. [GENERAL KELLY holds up another sheet of paper, this one with fifty lines across it.] “Clean language enables the learning process for all.” Fifty times. Handwriting will be neat or you’ll do it over. Mr. Kushner, lead us in the Pledge.

[JARED feels faint. There’s crosstalk as the STAFF realizes JARED doesn’t know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance. Finally, KUSHNER DAUGHTER recites the pledge on her father’s behalf. Then wheels loudly clang across the floor. It’s STEVE BANNON pushing a mail cart. His cargo short pockets are stuffed with green plastic baggies.]

STEVE BANNON [whispering to KUSHNER DAUGHTER]: Dog shit baggies I pilfered from the park by your house. We’re going to use them to make water balloons. Why is the government subsidizing these? Do you know our enemies the Egyptians first domesticated dogs?

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [not looking up from her daily quiz]: You’re talking about cats. And they’re not our enemies.

GENERAL KELLY: Is there something wrong, Ms. Kushner?

STEVE BANNON [boldly]: You were hired to be the adult in the room. This is a corridor.

GENERAL KELLY [pettily]: Do we have any mail or are you only here to perpetuate drama and toxicity?

JARED [reading his daily quiz and mouthing the words to himself]: True or false: The media will say the administration has pivoted but we’re all still independent operators with our own agendas. Nothing has changed.

[STEVE BANNON dumps the contents of the mail bin into the middle of the corridor before he skulks off to the utility sink in PRESIDENT NIXON’s old bowling alley. GENERAL KELLY wields his box cutter and slices open the Amazon Prime box addressed to THE MOOCH. It’s a stack of books, including Tim Ferris’s self-help guide, The 4-Hour Workweek.]

KELLYANNE CONWAY [deferentially, coquettishly, and above all, thrilled that the Catholic ethnics are ascendant again]: We can’t waste them. That would be a sin.

GENERAL KELLY [to KUSHNER DAUGHTER]: I’m sorry, I know you wanted to start with American novels, but I think we should just use these as our first text. [GENERAL KELLY asks the beadle to distribute the books to his staff.] And don’t think for a second that after this afternoon you’re going home. We’re using the other thirty-six hours to do another nine weeks of work. [GENERAL KELLY checks his watch. Time is up.] Mrs. Conway, can you review with us your answer to question one?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Approval ratings don’t matter because even the people who disapprove of us are still watching the show.

IVANKA [interrupting]: And the show is a good one. A prestigious one.

KUSHNER DAUGHTER [interrupting]: We disapproved of Tony but still loved “The Sopranos.”

IVANKA [powerfully]: Democrats are going to keep pushing policies that make white people aware of their whiteness.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS [correctly]: Our voters don’t care if we actually accomplish anything for them. They’re happy so long as we stop accomplishing things for people who are not them.

GENERAL KELLY [proudly]: The women have come to play. Jared, are you taking notes?

[JARED is not taking notes. He’s thinking about his old Gameboy, and the time a classmate poured soda into it, as GARY COHN swoops in.]

GARY COHN [barking into his phone]: Travis. Listen to me. Where else would the money go but the stock market? It’s not like people are buying bonds. To give that motherfucker money to build his wall? You’re fucking nuts. [GARY COHN hangs up his phone.] That guy. I told him, focus on flow activities now that you have time. You’re not CEO anymore. [GARY COHN picks up JARED’s daily quiz and examines it.] Jared, what are you doing here? What would your mother say? You sitting here, in this—[His eyes fixate on the crucifix someone has hung on the wall.]—fucking Catholic school.

JARED [ashamed]: I thought we had to. My desk was out here.

GARY COHN: Look, Jared. You teach people how to treat you.

JARED [only wanting to play his Gameboy]: Why is the stock market roaring?

GARY COHN [mentoring]: The money has no place else to go, kid. It’s like City College last century. None of the real schools let us in, and so City College got Stanley Kubrick, Ed Koch, Kissinger, Woody Allen. Where else were we going to go? [GARY COHN reads from the daily quiz.] A merit-based immigration plan, but a legacy-based college admissions plan? Jesus fucking Christ.

[GENERAL KELLY points to KELLYANNE CONWAY and she laughs and claps.]

GARY COHN [finally responding to JOHN MARA’s email from earlier this week]: Come on, Jared. I have tickets to Giants training camp. We’re working out with Odell Beckham Jr after. Within a decade, watching football will be like smoking cigarettes. Only people who voted for your father-in-law will be doing it.

[GENERAL MATTIS walks through with his coffee urn. He approaches the water cooler, but it’s empty. A good soldier, he doesn’t fuss as he looks for a full container of water to replace the one STEPHEN MILLER drained earlier this morning.]

GENERAL KELLY [not sure whether he’s pulling rank on GENERAL MATTIS]: No. Jared needs to learn how to do it

[JARED is already putting on the Eli Manning jersey that he always carries with him. He looks to GARY COHN for rescue.]

GARY COHN: I mean, you should know how to fucking refill a water cooler. He’s not wrong about that.

GENERAL MATTIS [seizing the water cooler as a teachable moment]: This tray catches the drips after you’re done pouring and it regularly falls off whenever you place the new container into the bowl. But if you lift your knee thusly [GENERAL MATTIS leans his knee against the collection tray], you can hold the tray in place as you replace the container. Now, you try, son.

[GENERAL KELLY nods aggressively. JARED peels back the protective label, lifts the bottle and then clumsily slams it into place. The tray falls out because JARED forgets to keep it in place with his knee, but only his daughter notices. EVERYONE ELSE is reading and highlighting The 4-Hour Workweek the same way MIKE PENCE reads and highlights his Bible.]

Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr