WASHINGTON — I'm tired of being told that I'm not a serious journalist, that I'm not someone like Bob Woodward, who is always on important conference calls with big shots. Well, I'll have you know I am on an important conference call right now.
Me: Paul, am I correct that you are a partner in a thousand-lawyer Washington, D.C., firm that is so big and influential that it has an office in Dusseldorf?
Me: And Michelle, you are Washington's best wedding photographer. You don't chronicle the cliched events of the day so much as indelibly capture the complex emotions behind them. You explore the intriguing ambiguity of love itself. You are an artist.
Michelle: Thank you.
Me: I wanted to bring you two strangers together today, in a professionally arranged conference call. Paul Hamburger, please say hello to Michelle Frankfurter.
Michelle and Paul: Hahahaha.
Me: My goal is to start a process that might ultimately bring the two of you together in holy matrimony.
Paul: Okay, there is an impediment. Your plan would require me to hire a lawyer to deal with a divorce from my current wife.
Paul: Well, getting out of a marital contract is not simply a minor inconvenience. Plus, I have three little 'burgers to consider.
Me: Why does everything always have to be about you, Paul? This is bigger than all of us. The future of Washington humor is in grave jeopardy. All the smart-ass lefty comedians have been numbed by their love of the Obama administration, and there's no one funny at all on the right. One of America's greatest political satirists has become a U.S. senator and has officially declared his intention to be dull. What we need is a counteroffensive. And what better place for it to come from than two ordinary people in Washington who declare, through a dramatic personal decision, that they will dedicate their names — their very existences — to the pursuit of humor? You both could do it with . . . relish.
Michelle: Paul can draw up the contracts, and I can do the Hail Mary!
Me: What's that?
Michelle: It's when a photographer holds the camera out at arm's length and takes a picture of him or herself.
Me: That's the spirit! Can you imagine the hilarity when the stodgy New York Times wedding page is forced to dourly announce the Hamburger-Frankfurter nuptials?
Michelle: Frankfurter-Hamburger. Bride comes first. Believe me, I know.
Me: Fine. My point is, this would be a triumph on all levels. Merely introducing yourselves as a couple at public events would become an act of guerrilla humor. In combination, the natural humor of each of your names doesn't just add up, it multiplies. It potentiates. It exponentiates! There is synergy.
Michelle: My name has some dignity. My father once told me that we are distantly related to Felix Frankfurter, the Supreme Court justice.
Michelle: Yeah. But he also told me that a dog has three eyes.
Me: Excuse me?
Michelle: He said the third was under the tail and insisted I investigate. So I'm not sure he's reliable.
Paul: I once interviewed for a job that would have made me a partner with a lawyer named Joe Fries.
Me: If you and Michelle got married and she cheated on you with Joe, she'd be having her Hamburger with Fries on the side.
Michelle: At Passover dinners when I was growing up, I'd look around the room and we had at the table Frankfurters, Wieners, Bergers and, believe it or not, Carrots. Every major food group was represented. My mother is Israeli.
Paul: I used to live in Israel. When I was in high school, I taught photography.
Me: See? It's kismet! You two crazy kids are a match made in heaven. And should a blessed event occur, Michelle would be able to say that she has . . . a bun in the oven!
Michelle: Okay, this is going to sound silly, but I used to imagine someday finding a soul mate and that his name would be Hamburger.
Me: Paul? Are you listening to this? Can't you see the logic here? Are you going to step up and do what's right?
Paul: Stop grilling me.
Gene Weingarten can be reached at [email protected] You can chat with him online at noon Aug. 25 at www.washingtonpost.com.