Dear Robert Mugabe:
I realize that you are busy man now, what with arresting opposition leaders and closing independent newspapers, but knowing a few Zimbabweans who are right tired of wandering about southern Africa as pariahs, I would like to offer you a deal. I would like to offer my apartment as your sovereign and undisputed territory.
Now, before you reject me out of hand, let me note that the apartment has hardwood floors (could use refinishing), nice high ceilings, and a fireplace (the landlord has insisted it is only for show, but once you’re here you’ll be the boss, right?). The kitchen leaves a little bit to be desired, but given your recent famine it should have plenty of space. The bathroom is quite small and has only a shower, but for a world leader on the go, who has time for a bath?
There are a number of advantages to transferring your reign of terror to this downtown corner in Ithaca, New York. The first is that there are no opposition parties here (I live alone) and so no need to fund a dishonest and repressive police force (we all know the cost of graft on an economy don’t we?). There are also no white farmers. (There are a few organic co-ops on the outside of town, but they haven’t actually found their way into my apartment yet.) And you won’t have to put up with that smug, annoying “You-know-you-owe-me-a-favor-after-this” look on Thabo Mbeki’s face during state visits.
Perhaps the most important feature is that there are no citizens, so to speak, who, tired of being hungry, disenfranchised, and mistreated, might come to tear you into pieces and drag your mangled corpse through the dusty streets shouting revolutionary slogans—which would, I suppose, would put a crimp in anyone’s day. I certainly would find it uncomfortable. Hell, I find it uncomfortable when the guy on Blind Date doesn’t realize that the woman thinks he’s a dweeb and continues to swagger well into the after-dinner-drinks section. (Do you get that show there? You should check it out; it’s hysterical!) I, of course, would be stopping in now and again, but I will slavishly follow orders until such time as I have to go to work, where my bosses are even more overbearing than yourself.
Anyway, there should be enough room to comfortably house your top staff, and the center of town is within walking distance, which means quick ice cream in the summer! In the winter it does get very cold, but one grows accustomed to it.
So, in short, I would be glad to sublet this new and—let’s face it—safer territory for a modest price that we can haggle about over coffee with soy milk and spelt-flour bagels when you arrive.
Think about it!
Ian P. MacDonald
P.S.—Lose the mustache.