“I’m embarrassed and sorry for having embellished my resume. People do stupid things.” – George Santos
“I never claimed to be Jewish. …I said I was ‘Jew-ish’.” – George Santos
My fellow Americans, I’ve read the tweets and seen the articles. I’ve watched my on-air interviews replayed ad nauseam – all I can say is that I am sorry. I can and will do better and I’m here to set the record straight.
See, when my parents left Brazil they had a vision of a brighter future for their children. They looked north to the United States and saw a beacon of hope where freedom of religion and the exchange of ideas were paramount. A place where individuality and determination were lauded above mere socioeconomic status. A land of opportunity and vibrant culture.
Instead we moved to Long Island.
Soon after our arrival my parents enrolled me in prep school where I excelled in academia and theater. In a local production of The Merry Wives of Windsor I was hailed by the Times as “a quintessential Falstaff” and word of my performance rapidly spread across the acting community. A week later Christopher Plummer’s agent asked to represent me. I told him I’d think about it.
After high school I attended Baruch College where I graduated alpha cum laude, an academic honor that was created for me after shattering the previous GPA record. Then I worked a few odd jobs around the city: finance at Goldman, cable TV. But my fortune didn’t turn until 2007.
At the time I was living in a cramped SoHo triplex. Glen Hansard and I had just finished writing the musical “Once” when he laid down his guitar and said: “Santman, you know why people respect you? It’s not your gift for melody or your brilliance for orchestration. Nor your sub five-minute mile or that you speak six languages (seven if you count two dialects of Mandarin). It’s your integrity.”
He was right. And although I was unable to attend the Tony Awards that year, it was after we won Best New Musical that Glen facetimed me and insisted I run for office.
It was a long shot. I didn’t have any political experience or connections.
I had bubkes!
But I was no stranger to adversity. In between jobs I had done a brief stint with the Belgian Navy. One winter our ship, the SS Neuhaus, ran ashore near Dunkirk and I managed to save the entire crew. I was awarded the maritime medal for heroism but when they couldn’t find my documents I was discharged (honorably, of course) and the medal was transferred to Captain Teugels. To this day, on every anniversary of the wreck he sends me a nasty text message, too explicit for reprint.
Such hardship only strengthened my chutzpah. This kind of experience can’t be bought. It can’t be learned online or in a classroom at a university that has no record of your attendance. It has to be earned. Then you know how to make lemonade when life hands you lemons. Or mix them with paint thinner and call it Limoncello, like my uncle who became a spirits mogul in Sicily.
Did I make a few fibs about my income along the way? Maybe. It’s not entirely my fault, though.
There was that thing at Maya Angelou’s annual solstice party when I thought Sting had asked me, “Are you South American?” To which I answered, “Brazilian”. But what he actually said was, “How much money did you make in 2008?”, and he thought I said, “A bazillion”. An honest mistake, and I realized later but didn’t want to correct him. I mean, it’s Sting.
I know what you’re thinking. What about the so-called “fraudulent” checks? Well I’ll tell you.
They’re a big, fat nothing burger. A lie spun up by the radical left. Did I obtain and use checks that didn’t belong to me? Sure. Did they belong to my mother’s male nurse? According to multiple independent sources, yes. But if God didn’t want me to spend $1,313.63 on designer footwear, then why was Mr. Alamao’s checkbook left unattended? My ancestors didn’t wander the desert for forty years so I could squander a great opportunity like some schlemiel.
And what’s this I hear about my eyeglasses, apparently people think they’re fake? Oy gevalt. They’re not prescription if that’s what you’re implying. They just filter out blue light. Because we all know that blue is bad and red is good. Ha, ha. A little political humor for you.
Seriously though, my eyesight is 20/20 but I like how the frames accentuate my cheekbones. It’s because I’m one sixteenth Cherokee. The latest genetic test still thinks I’m European but that’s nonsense. I’ve always felt more of a connection to Native Americans, especially after watching Dances with Wolves with Hilaria Baldwin and Rachel Dolezal.
Oy vey, this has become long winded. Forgive me! Words are cheap and the proof is in the pudding. So, my fellow Americans, I am determined to prove that you made the right decision by electing me. I look forward to being your humble servant, working across the aisle, and making the quality of life better for everyone in the new year. Sorry, I did it again. New-ish year.
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Ben Bynum is a software engineer based in New York where he spends his free time playing instruments. As a musician he has performed internationally and appeared on NPR Tiny Desk, the Late Late Show, and Prairie Home Companion. He’s also a proud winner of the New Yorker Caption Contest.