Corporate entertainer and motivational humorist Greg Schwem is not a fan of politics. But he is a fan of family discussions.
“Everybody downstairs,” I barked, as I adjusted my sport coat and straightened my tie.
“I’m busy,” came individual replies from my wife and two daughters.
“I said NOW! The light is perfect and the camera is all set up.”
“Camera? What camera? Dad, what are you doing?” my eldest asked, peering down the stairs and seeing the tripod-mounted iPad in the living room.
I scurried behind the couch, alternately opening and closing draperies, trying to get the sunlight to cooperate. The girls had now joined me and were sharing their best, “Has Dad lost his mind?” look. It’s one I’ve grown to instantly recognize due to its frequency.
“What is this?” my wife asked.
“It’s the first ever Schwem family town hall,” I said. “Starting today, we’ll be conducting these on a semi-regular basis, discussing family issues, sharing different ideologies and working together to make the Schwem unit great again.”
“When did we cease being great?”
“Don’t you have to run for president to be part of a town hall?”
“Why are you calling us a unit?”
“All good questions,” I responded. “Yes, I think we’re a great family but other families have overtaken us in terms of success. They’re laughing at us.”
“Dad, just because all the Ivy League schools rejected me…” my oldest responded.
“And excuse me for only being VICE president of student council,” her sister chimed.
I continued. “This is our chance to set the record straight on a variety of issues. I invited Anderson Cooper to moderate but he hasn’t returned my emails. So, we’ll be using Facebook Live and I’ll ask the questions. Everybody ready?”
“Girls, why don’t you stand backstage for now.”
“You mean the kitchen?”
“Whatever. I’ll interview Mom and bring you in shortly,” I said.
“Or you could not bring us in at all.”
I ignored my daughter, pressed “record,” and the town hall had begun.
“Good evening, 1 billion Facebook users,” I said.
“Wait. One BILLION people are watching us now?” my youngest said from the wings. “Mom!”
“She has been called a wife, mother, chef, bill payer, chauffeur and nurse. But who is the REAL Mrs. Schwem? Viewers want to know.”
“Then they’re wasting their time,” my wife said.
“We’ve talked about making the Schwem family great again,” I continued. “Mrs. Schwem, if you had to equate another presidential campaign slogan with this family, what would it be? Would you channel your inner Ted Cruz and ‘Reignite the Promise for the Schwems?’ Or as Bernie Sanders suggests, assure America that a ‘Schwem revolution is coming?’”
“I was always partial to Chris Christie’s, ‘Telling It Like It Is,’” she said. “Want to know what I think of this interview?”
“On that note, let’s bring in our daughters,” I said, switching gears. “Girls, welcome to the town hall. Stop slouching. And Instagramming.”
Both girls stared at their shoes.
“What is your main goal for the future of this family?”
“My own car?” my oldest responded.
“Not you personally. What I mean is, are there goals you would like to see achieved in America that can also be applied to the four of us?”
“Absolutely,” she said. “Even though I’m 19, I’m in favor of less government intervention. And less family intervention as well.”
“Can you clarify your position so you aren’t misquoted tomorrow?”
“It means, please stop ‘liking’ everything I post on Facebook, Dad. And cool it with the emojis. Everybody in my dorm agrees.”
“I will respectfully disagree and say this family needs more transparency. No more secrets,” I said.
“Like not telling us we were gonna be part of a town hall,” my youngest said.
“I’m certain I sent you all an email,” I said.
“From where? Your ‘private server?’” my wife said.
“Let’s take a question from a viewer. Kirsten from Akron, Ohio just typed, ‘Your dad is beyond bizarre.’ Uh, thank you for your question, Kirsten.”
“Looks like you aren’t going to carry the Buckeye state, honey,” my wife said.
“Well, I think we’re just about out of time. Thank you for your participation, girls. And tune in again next week for our second town hall, when both sets of in-laws will join us. You won’t want to miss, ‘The Scuffle in the Suburbs.’”