It's Presidents' Day -- well what's left of it. I've never met a president up close and personal, although I was THIS CLOSE to President Clinton one day at lunch, when he and our beloved Mayor Daley, along with their entourage, sat at a long table near my group.
Mayor Daley made a concerted effort not to look around, for fear of
seeing someone who wanted something from him, no doubt. But President Clinton was
scanning the room and smiling like a rock star when people like ME swooned like teenaged girls at their first rock concert. I
understood immediately why his Secret Service name was Elvis. He
was a head taller than the mayor. Goodlooking too. And yep, he's a
player. [It's all in the eyes.]
Another brush with
presidential-ness happened when I went to a friend's graduation from a
fancy Ivy League school in the sixties. The 1960's. There was this kid named Tweed hanging around
all the time. He was short, barely five foot five, wore glasses, and
looked a lot younger than twenty-one. In any other milieu he would have
been a dweeb. Even in that milieu he was a dweeb.
Physically he looked nothing like my friend who was tall
and athletic by comparison. He also wasn't graduating, since he'd taken
some time off from school and had at least another year before he
finished. He was pleasant enough, but didn't have much of a personality, although everybody was very nice to him.
Tweed invited a group of us to his family's cottage on Cape Cod
graduation. It was my first trip to that wonderful place. I still
remember the ferry ride, his family's ancient blue touring car
we used for driving around, and the spectacular view of the ocean
looking out over Gay
The cottage was loaded with antiques and chintz. Quaint as shit would
be an appropriate description. Clearly Tweed's family was Olde Money.
That was most obvious in the bathroom where there were rows of family
photos to peruse while one was seated on the toilet. I wasn't paying
attention to all the old black and white pictures until I looked a
closer and kept seeing someone who looked an awful lot like Teddy
Roosevelt. He had a huge mustache along with that funny park ranger
looking hat he used to
wear, and he was always surrounded by lots of younger people. It
finally dawned on me -- that IS Teddy
Tweed was his great grandson. Since those college days he has spent his
as a professional relative of a president, as near as I can determine.
He took a trip down a wild river in the Amazon or some other
alligator infested place, following a map of the same excursion great
grandpa made a long time ago. He wrote about it in the New York
Times Magazine. The last thing I found about him was via Google.
Tweed was presented with a posthumous Medal of Honor for his
presidential predecessor by President Clinton. Apparently Teddy had
quite a ride or two
up San Juan Hill in 1898.
Another professional presidental relative I met was a direct descendant
of the Harrisons. She used her DNA to get meetings with and work from
folks in the White House. Her real claim to fame was more
interesting however. She had huge blue eyes and a cute curly bob. If
her hair had been black instead of gray, she would have looked just like Betty
Boop. There was a reason for that. Wouldn't you know her mother had been the original inspiration
for Betty. The resemblance in her daughter was uncanny.
Aside from a family member who was married briefly to one of Ben
Franklin's questionable offspring, I have no familial connections to
our Founding Fathers or the Oval Office.
How about you? How close have you been to a president? Or a relative of a
president? And was he or she a professional presidential
relative? I think that should be a new job description.