December 23, 2016
“Here, write some more.” Michelle Obama urges me on. President Obama is already giving his speech, and I know it is short. I’ll have to write quickly to get a few paragraphs added to it.
“Come on, come on . . .” She leans over me, ready to grab the envelope I am writing on, to get it to him while he still is on the podium. Thoughts are slow in coming to me. Now he is talking about creating a world that his daughters can live in happily. Yes, that is good. “C’mon, c’mon.” Michelle grabs my envelope and hands it over. Too late; he is done. But he will have another chance to use it, if he wants – for the speech he will give later.
So Michelle and I go to the huge hall and he has the envelope in his hands. Maybe now? I’d be so happy, so honored it he uses more of my words. She stands at my left, arm around me, pulling me in. But I had not liked her much before now. What will people think?
“Look,” she says.“People are finding empty seats in the front rows.” She dashes to find one, and I follow. I expect an empty seat near her for me, but no, they are full. Oh, there’s one a few rows back. I grab it though I don’t know anyone nearby. Will they mind? I see the President looking at my crumbled envelope. I wonder what he will say. Are my words the right ones? Does he know they are mine?
Meanwhile Amy Poehler is playing Hillary Clinton in the new movie and I’m on hand to see the rehearsals. Young “Hillary” is coming down the path, about to meet her fate: she is being introduced to Bill Clinton. Amy is flawless. It’s uncanny. How does she do it?
Now I’m meeting the real Hillary in her early days. The car from Texas pulls into the driveway and she gets out. She is visiting my friend; I am just an extra. Will she even acknowledge me? Should I stay silent in the background? Do I even belong here? Her car sports an elaborate hood ornament, four-feet high, sculptured from gold. It looks the inside labyrinth of an abandoned ant hill, filled with molten gold, solidified. A gold crown sits atop the car. She is flawless. I didn’t know about her Texas days.
For awhile I hold back, but now I’m asking her many questions and it seems okay. Maybe I’m asking too many. Well I have a lot of questions and she is an intelligent woman and I don’t have to hold back, do I? The way I usually do, not letting people know how much I know.
The sizes of the apartments in Texas are amazing, she tells us. Sometimes a whole house from some other state could fit into one room of a Texas apartment. She has an apartment that a barn could fit into. I want to tell her about sizes of families – the number of children – being correlated with sizes of homes and apartments found in each state. But I don’t remember the specifics or who did the study, so I keep silent.
I do ask about the caravan car. Looks like an old circus car, with gray drapes pulled across its broad side. It is not a solid drape with sewn seams. “Does it open from the middle, pulling to each side, or does it draws all to one side, as if it were a solid piece?” I don’t think I’m explaining my question well; she looks at me but doesn’t answer. I repeat. No answer. I have to be satisfied with my conclusion.
My questions continue. Her wall is filled with thousands of books and I recognize most of the titles. “You really like 19th century American writers?”
“Yes,” she says. “An exciting time when all the groundwork for the 20th century was laid: economics, politics, technology, industry. So different from the 18th.” I was never that interested in 19th century literature, but I am reconsidering; my interests are changing. I see a book by Washington Irving called “Yonkers.” I want to catch up. I continue to comment about the books and ideas. I’m worried I am showing off my knowledge in the process but I remind myself it won’t bother her that I know these things and I’m not stupid. She knows so much, herself.
Bill Murray is playing the piano accompaniment for the in-house concert. Maybe it’s Tom Hanks. The performer is new and losing his place. Murray covers for him nicely. When the phone rings in the next room, no one moves to get it. Well I guess it’s my place to go; I am not a real guest, just a tag along.
“Clinton residence, Barbara speaking.” Someone following up about a delivery. A bed order I think. I have to relay a message but I didn’t get his name. Dan Carther? Or Parther? “Is it c as in carter or p as in parter?” That doesn’t help. “Is it C as in Carpenter or P as in …. as in Petticoat”? I’ll try real hard to get this right. I want to do right by her.
“Carpenter. Dan Carpenter.”
I can do good.
* * *