The brave little smile does nothing to hide the pain in his eyes.

Embittered McCullough Faces Summer Alone

Dwarfed by the easy chair in which he sits, his little nose pushed up close to the pages of volume 'R' of the Encyclopedia Britannica, one begins to realize just how painfully young Noah McCullough really is. And yet, as is necessary in wistful puff pieces such as this, he has the look of one who has seen much and traveled far.

"Once I used to travel with the president," Noah says wistfully, setting down the big red book and scooching from his chair. "And that day shall come again." The words are brave, but his little voice betrays him. He thinks back to a time, mere weeks ago, when a nation hung upon his every word. This is a boy who has clearly touched greatness, only to see it recede away from his grasp.

"I had a birthday last month," Noah told us, holding up both of his little hands. "Now I only have twenty-five more years to go before I'm eligible to be president. And fifty-seven years until I'm eligible for Social Security, if it still exists."

Give it up, we told him.

"You think I'm washed up, don't you," asked the little warrior, moving to the little chair at his little desk, and pulling up Google News on his little PC. His little fingers quickly typed in MCCULLOUGH, and he turned to us with a smile on his little face as 1330 matches were displayed.

"Noah..." we said, shaking our head in disapproval.

"Oh, all right," the cute little devil sighed, adding NOAH to his search criteria. His face dropped. "Only seven," he said, his lower lip sticking out in a little pout. "That's not very many."

"No, it's not. But it's still more than you deserve. Now you turn right back around and add those quotation marks."

"Nooooo," he whimpered, but we insisted. "Don't you remember? I ran rings around Katie Couric."

"She thought you were just adorable. How many hits now?"


"Speak up. We can't here you."

"One," he shouted. "Just one. But I've been busy. I have to go to school, you know. I'm going back on tour. I'm going back on Leno."

"Let's just look at this piece," we said cruelly, having already read the small item in US News & World Report. "Gosh, this is two weeks old... You're about too fall off the charts, little Mister."

"Am not!"

"Hmm, let's see... Oh, this is a little roundup piece. 'Kerry in '08'... No, no Noah... 'Sunday morning TV wars'... is that it?... No... Oh wait. 'The man who paddled the prez'. Ah, ha. Says here you're writing a little book of presidential trivia, zat right?"

"It's going to be real good. I told the president about it."

"That's right... It says here that you were lurking behind the stage when Bush was in Dallas talking about Social Security reform. I bet he had you out on stage, didn't he?"

"Uh uh. Nobody told him I was there."

"Oh, that's too bad... Well, I'll bet he was real glad to see you when he went backstage, wasn't he? Did he take you to Chucky Cheese? All little boys like Chucky Cheese. I bet that's what he did isn't it?"

"Stop it! Stop picking on me!"

"You gonna cry, little man? Come on, let's see those waterworks. Did the president buy you a milkshake?"


And so our interview ended, as we were escorted to the front door by mommy. No, Mrs. McCullough, we should not be ashamed of ourselves. We only wished to catch a glimpse of the littlest presidential advisor, and convey the best wishes of our loyal reader, who pause sometimes to wonder about the whereabouts of a little boy sitting by a little telephone that never rings.


2005, Mark Hoback