It’s Super Tuesday! Are you afraid? Are you very, very afraid? You should be. But let’s save that conversation for after the results come in, shall we?
Anyway... I have a story for you today. Well, a couple of stories. They're about people I've encountered through life who have taught me about intelligent interaction. Have a seat and start reading.
When I was in high school I became pretty interested in the political process. I used to think it was because I was obsessed with the television series, The West Wing, but it was recently pointed out that I was newly engaged to my husband when it premiered. I was pretty young when A. popped the question at our favorite restaurant, but I was at least a couple of years on the correct side of legal adulthood!
So, I guess all of the credit for this interest goes to my parents, teachers, and the week I spent in the Presidential Classroom program in Washington. However, I can’t leave Congressman Jim Clyburn out of this. One day I was allowed to skip the several hours we were to spend with at the Canadian Embassy* to shadow the South Carolina representative. I was pretty proud of myself when I walked into his office. I’d spent the week learning about the importance of going into a political discussion armed with facts and knowledge supporting both sides of an argument, been offered an internship by a lobbying firm,**and frustrated several boys by besting them in many of our daily debate practices. By the time I started playing authorized hooky I was about as bigheaded as a teenager can get. I wonder if Congressman Clyburn noticed my newfound arrogance when he found me eating cupcakes with his staff in his reception room. He probably did, because it wasn’t the first time we’d met (he and my parents were friendly at the time, and I’d been stung by a wasp on his Lake Marion fishing dock at least twice). I remember his Congressional aide giving him a good-natured roll of her eyes when he emerged from his office, then looking back at me and saying, “Don’t let him give you a hard time, but he’s about to completely wear you out.”
I basically had to sprint to keep up with Congressman Clyburn’s impossibly zippy stride as we navigated Capitol Hill’s underground tunnels. We waved to freshman Rep. Sonny Bono, who chuckled at the sight of a fit sixteen-year-old gulping for air in order to keep up with a man in his mid-fifties. I sat in on a couple of meetings. I don’t remember what they were about because I was too grateful to be seated, but I remember being asked by other representatives what I thought about a thing or two. Hopefully my memory lapse here means I didn’t say anything too embarrassing.
Later, Congressman Clyburn's aide met us and we pushed our way through the crowd heading to the floor for roll call and and voting. The three of us were smashed into an elevator in which the aide and I were the only females, and since I hadn’t yet hit my full height of 5’5”, all I could see was the black and navy fabric of several suits.
When the men exited, I remained on the elevator with the aide to continue further up to a viewing area.
“Did you see him?” she breathed excitedly when the elevator doors closed.
“Who?” I asked, worrying about the extent to which I’d sweat through my brand-new houndstooth blazer.
“John F. Kennedy, Jr. almost got into the elevator with us just now!”