A youthful Al Gore stepped from the Port-O-Potty that served as his dressing room.
He moved toward the octagon set in a hidden field where Bill Clinton stood in the center, drawing everyone’s attention.
No one noticed Al, even though he wore MMA fight shorts and fight gloves.
The crowd riveted their attention on Clinton, but mostly on Michelle Obama who worked the crowd like a pro.
She moved around striking classic body-building poses to the delight of all.
President Obama, Oprah, and Tipper sat ringside laughing together.
Al Gore was not one of the delighted.
No one recognized him in the context of MMA, and no one cared.
“Jesus, I’m a ghost again. This is worse than being Vice President,” he said to himself.
Suddenly, he felt exposed and naked. He stopped walking.
“Come on, Al,” he said. “Keep moving. Just like Vietnam, keep moving. Just like the Presidential campaigns, keep moving.”
A stranger, a young man on the fringe of the crowd, recognized him.
“Hey man, what are you doing in your swimming suit. You look like Al Gore, but he wouldn’t show up to a cage fight in a swim suit.”
Al covered his chest with his arms, then reconsidered.
“It’s not a swimming suit. It’s a…”
“What’s that say on the front?” the man said. ‘Don’t stop?’ Had a girlfriend with a pair of trunks like that. Mine said, ‘Can’t Stop.’ Maybe you’ve got the wrong pair.”
Al turned around to show the other half of the Fleetwood Mac lyrics, ‘Thinking About Tomorrow.’ “It’s part of a song,” he said. “Before your time.”
“I’m thinking tomorrow isn’t looking too good for you, Al, running around here in some cabana-boy outfit at your age. Did someone slip you some X, or what?”
“Excuse me, young man,” Al told him. “I’m the main event in that ring.”
“Actually, it’s an octagon,” the man said. “There’s two people in there, Clinton and Mrs. Obama. You’re gonna fight one of them?”
“I’m not sure, but I’m going in.”
“Going in is the easy part. Coming out is another story.”
Al left the man to make his way to the cage steps. More people recognized him, but stood tongue-tied at his appearance. Al tried shaking hands, but they all recoiled.
“What’s the matter? You never seen a cage fighter? Never got this close to an MMA guy?”
He heard Lindsey Buckingham sing the first lines of what he took for his entry music,
“If you wake up and don’t want to smile,
If it takes just a little while,
Open your eyes and look at the day,
You’ll see things in a different way.”
He passed Tipper, who sang along. She stopped when she saw Al.
“You’ll see things in a different way after you get pasted,” she said. “Your shorts look a little tight, Al.”
He stepped up to the octagon and froze at the door. John Irving came over and pulled him the rest of the way in.
“It’s okay, Al. Everyone gets nervous right where you are. You’ll get the swing of it after you take a few hits and kicks. Let’s go.”
President Obama handed Bill Clinton a microphone just in time.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. Welcome to the one, the only, Rumble on the Ridgeline, featuring Michelle ‘The Menacer’ Obama against Al ‘Nobel and Oscar’ Gore. Today’s event is the last preliminary, with the winner moving to the finals against last weeks winner of the Jonathan Franzen versus Oprah Winfrey fight, OOOOOOOOOOOpraaaaaaahhhhhh Wiiiiinnnnffffffreeeeeey.”
John Irving stepped in and held both Al Gore and Michelle Obama by their wrists. Clinton backed up and snaked the microphone under Irving’s right armpit and up to his face so he could speak into it.
“You’ve both received your instructions. I want a clean fight with clean breaks. Come out on the bell, and step away at the end of each round. I’ll get you to your feet if you don’t show progress on the ground. Are the fighters ready?”
Al Gore looked at John Irving in disbelief; Michelle Obama stared at Al without blinking. If body language counted for anything, the fight was already over.
Clinton moved to the side of the cage and knelt with the microphone.
President Obama stood near him. Both started slow.
“Leeeeettts Get Reeeeaaadaaaaay to Ruuummmmmble.”
“I thought Buffer had a copyright on that,” Clinton said.
“He gave me permission,” the President said. “Office perk.”
The fighters circled each other, Michelle Obama ducking and weaving, hooking and jabbing the air. Al Gore side-stepped awkwardly with his hands straight out like a sleep-walker.
The crowd screamed their approval, and a demand for blood.
At ringside, Oprah passed a book to Tipper, who slid to the front edge of her seat.
Inside the octagon, Al backed up when Michelle moved toward him. He ran out of backing room and found himself up against the cage wall near Tipper. She tried to stand, but Oprah held her back, shaking her head.
The two fighters navigated the cage a few more times before Al backed into the wall near Tipper again. She was looking at the cover of the book Oprah gave her, Bill Clinton’s ‘My Life.’
Oprah gave her a shove.
Michelle threw an overhand right that missed. Al fell down anyway. Tipper jumped from her chair and, through the cage wall, whacked Al on the head with 1007 pages of hardback fury. He didn’t get up.
John Irving knew exactly what to do. He called the fight, declaring Michelle Obama the winner. He thanked the crowd for coming out and urged them to be careful leaving the field.
The ring doctor brought Al Gore around with smelling salts.
Irving leaned toward Tipper. “I think Volume II would have been a better choice. Those extra three hundred pages on the first book drilled him.”
“That was the idea,” Oprah said, fist bumping Tipper. She turned toward Michelle.
“Looks like we’ve got a date to dance, girlfriend.”
“Bring it on, Oprah. I’ll be waiting.”
“No, I’ll be waiting.”
“You don’t keep the First Lady waiting for anything,” Michelle said.
“The First Lady of Daytime Television has other priorities.”
“Like ducking a fight? Are you and Gayle taking another trip?”
“The only trip will be you leaving the octagon on a stretcher.”
“Someone will be on that stretcher. You got that right.”
The ring doctor had Al Gore sitting, but he couldn’t stand. After the second attempt, the doctor waved for the ambulance crew.