Presidential Training Results in Pretzel Injury
President Bush took an unfortunate step back Sunday night
in what had been a carefully planned training regimen spanning
more than three decades - one that had finally produced results
just a few days earlier.
After over 30 years and countless hours of extensive training
sessions, Bush finally succeeded Friday afternoon at what
most insiders believed he would never be able to do: he successfully
completed nine full steps while chewing a piece of bubble
gum. With the help of the Multi-task Training Team (MTT) assigned
to him, Bush achieved his (and his family's) long-standing
goal of being able to walk and chew bubble gum at the same
time without falling down.
"It was such a wonderful day," according to one MTT agent,
"and we were all just so elated - especially Mr. Bush."
The celebration was short lived, however, as Mr. Bush decided
to take matters into his own hands Sunday night in an unscheduled
exercise that involved walking and chewing actual food.
According to another MTT staffer, "he was just so excited
and full of confidence, that I think he felt he could do anything.
Unfortunately, he bit off more than he could chew... umm,
no pun intended."
Another MTT specialist added, "I think he probably did okay
until it came time to actually swallow the pretzel he was
chewing. He was most likely faced with overwhelming confusion
at that point because he has only been training for chewing
and walking, not chewing, walking and then swallowing."
The result, as is evidenced by the dark bruising on Mr. Bush's
face Monday morning, was him falling flat on his face while
attempting to eat a pretzel and walk at the same time during
the Baltimore-Miami NFL playoff game.
"I hit the deck," is how Bush described the mishap as he
left the White House for his current two-day trip.
Bush was initially examined by a White House nurse and then
by Dr. Richard Tubb (an Air Force physician) on Sunday, and
ran through a series of tests that included a cardiopulmonary
workup, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. Tubb told reporters
Bush reported a pretzel "did not go down right."
Bush said he believes he lost consciousness for only a few
seconds at about 5:35 p.m., because when he opened his eyes,
he said, his dogs were in the same location as his last memory.
"It's no surprise that the first thing he mentioned when
referring to his latest mis-step were his dogs. He's always
been thoroughly amazed with - and a little bit jealous of
- his dogs," one MTT staffer said after the event. "I can't
tell you how many times he would just stop and stare in awe
as his dogs would walk while chewing and swallowing their
food at the same time. He [Bush] would just point and say
'if they can do it with four legs then, by God, someday I'm
going to do it with two'."
Bush Jr's inability to walk and chew bubble gum, among other
things, has always been a touchy subject within the Bush family.
Many believe that he tried to mask his problem by drinking
to excess, so that if he mistakenly tried to walk while he
was still chewing gum, it would quickly be blamed on his inebriation.
"When he decided to run for political office, it posed tremendous
problems for our staff," said Emily Watson, one-time leader
of the Bush family's private team of trainers. "We always
had someone within a few feet of Mr. Bush so that if he started
to get up, but had forgotten to remove the gum from his mouth,
our staffer would prevent him from walking until the gum could
While this situation prevented hundreds of accidents, it
still wasn't foolproof. "We worked closely with Mr. Bush for
years coming up with ways to keep him from falling flat on
Then, during the summer of 1981, a member of the Bush training
team came up with a wonderful trick to help prevent public
mishaps. "We were able to teach him to stop chewing when he
walked - without actually having to spit out the gum - and
we were amazed that something so simple could prevent so much
damage," said Mrs. Watson. "It took months, but we finally
got it to the point where he would remember to tuck the gum
under his tongue about 80% of the time he got up to walk.
This was just incredible and it reduced his accidents ten-fold."
As Mrs. Watson reminisced about the breakthrough they enjoyed
those years ago, she said she has almost no doubt that Mr.
Bush will someday conquer his inability to walk, chew and
then swallow food at the same time. "It may take another 30
years to do it, but he is more determined now than ever."
President Bush sent a big bag of pretzels back to the press
cabin on Air Force One this morning with a note scrawled in
black on the plastic: "Chew slowly, swallow, then walk." One
can only hope he takes his own advice.