Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"A Highly Interesting Quasi-Encounter"

I once almost met Hillary Clinton.

There’s an opening line for you – interesting, with an inherent capacity to disappoint.  Preannounced, it should be noted, so there is no possibility of a letdown.  This is an acknowledged “almost” story, with no illusions or claims of being anything loftier.

Still, on the scale of exciting stories, what kind of a story is “I once almost met Hillary Clinton”?  It seems to rank with the likes of “I once almost won the lottery.”  Which is the equivalent of  “I bought a lottery ticket and I lost.”  Which, unless you came within one number of the announced “winner”, is really not much of a story at all.

At yet, for me at least, “I once almost met Hillary Clinton” remains memorable.  (Exemplified by the fact that I remember it.  What more tangible proof do you need?)

This recollection came to mind, as a result of having recently seen this broadcast on television – C-SPAN I, to be precise – showing Hillary and her former president husband Bill attending a “steak fry” in Iowa (traditionally the first primary state, so they were not dropping by because they enjoy frying steaks, which, I believe Bill doesn’t even eat anymore.)  There is a picture of them at the event is this morning’s paper.  What stands out for me are their professional smiles.

(NOTE {for which I have no concrete evidence whatsoever}:  I have it stuck in my brain that when Bill Clinton misbehaved with an intern, he implored Hillary not to depart, offering the solemn promise that if she didn’t, one day he would make her President of the United States.  This notion sits right beside my equally unsubstantiated belief that Michael Jordan was once suspended from the NBA for gambling, but was permitted to instead claim that he was taking a hiatus from the game he dominated to play baseball, which he absolutely stunk at.)

Hillary’s and my near-miss encounter occurred during the 2008 Democratic primary.  A part of this is hazy.  We were apparently guests at some political fundraising event for Hillary (who came alone) that would cost a substantial amount of money to attend.  And yet, we have never in our lives spent a substantial amount of money to attend any political fundraising event.

So what were we doing at this one? 

I mean, it’s not like we are never invited to such gatherings.  We are apparently on a list that we should not be included on because we are nowhere near as wealthy as the other people on the list, and, although the “Attendance Fee” may have not been entirely beyond our means, we are disinclined to fork over the equivalent of a grandchild’s year of college tuition to shake hands with a potential candidate for political office. 

(And that’s literally just for shaking hands with them.  The charges escalate with increased access.  At similar events, you can occupy an adjacent urinal with the president –  “Pee with the President” is the penultimate “Level of Access” – but it would cost you an arm and a leg.)   (The highest level, I do not even want to talk about.)


Here’s what happened at the event.

There we are, standing in a beautifully manicured Beverly Hills backyard on a balmy Sunday afternoon, sipping club soda, our glasses wrapped strategically in napkins, so that if there were any handshaking to be done, it could be accomplished with dry hands. 

We know nobody there, including our hosts.  We are like paid “Extras” at a fundraiser – make that paying “Extras”, killing time in our carefully selected “Casual Attire”, visited exclusively by white-coated serving people offering trays of hors d’oeuvres penetrated by toothpicks.  Waiting for the hopefully mercifully brief speeches, so we can politely applaud, and then immediately head for our car.

And that’s when it happened.

I am passing a bored glance across the opulent garden, and there, standing alone, is Hillary Clinton, her face and subdued body language reflecting all that standing alone at a gathering of people implies.  And that gathering was for her.

The former First Lady appeared wallflowerishly forlorn.  It was uncomfortable to look at her.  She seemed like she needed a hug.

It was then that I fantasized (but never carried out) my “Rescue Mission.” 

I walked over to Hillary Clinton, standing inobtrusively beside her, and I said,

“You don’t have to say anything.  I’m just going to stand here, so that you don’t look so pathetic.” 

I did not actually do that, because I am cowardly, socially inept, uncomfortable with power, and not as nice nice as my inner intentions.  Shortly thereafter, others, perhaps noticing what I’d noticed, arrived to the rescue.

And it was over.

I once almost met Hillary Clinton.

Though I may have learned more about her than if I actually had.

1 comment:

Frank said...

Hillary was probably wondering why Bill was taking so long finding interns for her.