Was at Madison Square Garden on Friday night for the Big East Tournament. Found myself in a room with Bill Clinton. It all just kind of happened. One minute I was sitting there with my brother and a friend. The next minute, secret service was coming in and Bill Clinton was with them.
There weren’t very many others in there. Maybe 20 total people. One of which was the former president of the United States.
He has an aura around him. A presence. Felt almost immediately when he walks in the room. Everyone just watched him. So did I. Couldn’t help it, I guess. I like to observe and he is as good a subject to observe as there is.
A lot of people approached him. Pretty much all of them kissing his ass. A bunch of the people trying to find some thread of a connection with him. ‘I went to Georgetown,’ and ‘My aunt lives in Arkansas.’ He answered politely and nicely, responding with fake enthusiasm to most. I’m sure it made them feel great. They would go home with the story and no doubt each echoing, ‘Really nice guy.’
And honestly, he was. I’m sure he gets this every time he steps out of his door. I imagine I would grow tired of this after two minutes. This is this guy’s whole life.
One of the guys we were with, was with Clinton a year earlier, got a picture with him then, and said to him, ‘I have our picture together hanging on my wall.’ Clinton thanked him. And my brother, who does as well, added, ‘So do I. I use mine as a dart board.’ It was funny. Caught Clinton off guard. He laughed.
The friend I was with is a marine and served under Clinton when he was president. He mentioned that, and that was the one time I saw Clinton light up and actually engage.
Almost everyone in the room asked separately to get a picture with the former president. And he obliged each one.
I didn’t ask him. I didn’t get a picture. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to bother him. It wasn’t that I don’t think he was a great president. It wasn’t that I despise him for making any mistakes he made with a former intern. Or for not giving the green light to kill bin Laden when he supposedly had the chance. It was that I just don’t care if I have a picture of him and me.
Does that seem strange?
I’m not better than anyone who asks for a picture. Obviously. I just don’t see it the same way. I don’t see the lure.
I don’t even know what I’m getting at with this post. I guess it’s more the question. What is it that I am missing? What is it about me that not only doesn’t need a picture with the former president, but doesn’t even want one? I genuinely don’t care. And if I wasn’t writing Urban Samurai, I don’t know that 3 other people in the world would know that I met him.
I came home and told my wife. I haven’t told anyone else until now.
Would I use a picture of us to prove that I met him? Would I use it to show people? Do I need that hard proof? Do you guys not believe me? Would I use it to make people jealous? Are you jealous, of my two minutes talking to the former president? Do you think there was any deep connection made? Do you think I have plans to talk about him and I joining together about a cause I really believe in?
Did it change my life? That meeting. That hand shake. Did it make any difference to me?
Maybe it’s just that I have a bigger ego than I realize. But he is a man, just like any one of us. Here is a man who has done some great things and some bad things.
Maybe that’s why people like him so much. Because that makes him regular. Not cheating mind you, but just the mistake. That made him human in our eyes. Just like us.
Still, I didn’t need a picture.
He seemed like he was trying to get to the bar. I went over to ask him if he wanted something to drink, but was cut off by a guy telling him that they used the same dry cleaner he used in Washington, D.C. He seemed really moved by that connection. Then another telling him he knew a 2nd cousin of Clinton’s. Then another with something else.
In a room with the one of the most powerful people in the world…he looked thirsty. I wanted to get him a drink.
If I was in a room with you and you looked thirsty, I’d want to do the same.