Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Six Degrees of Barack & Rahm, etc., etc.

I just realized that I am this close to knowing someone important. So close, and yet, so not close. 

For instance, what do Donald Rumsfeld and Rahm Emanuel have in common with me?

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Yes, we're all from the Chicago area. But one of us is a Republican; one is a Democrat. And I'm an agnostic. One is a WASPY swell; another is a first generation Jewish American by way of Israel. And my relatives still raise chickens and watermelons in southern Delaware. 

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Give up? We all went to the same high school. So did Ann Margret [who taught me the cheer for our school song] and Rock Hudson [who grew up around the corner]. You might want to keep track of these things. You know that actor Rainn what's-his-face on The Office? Graduated from my high school. Ashlee Simpson's husband? Him, too. But I digress.

Today I had lunch with a woman whose son was offered an internship at the White House if Rahm Emanuel went to Washington. Are you green with envy yet? My proximity to power simply boggles. Back in the day, my stepmother was friends with Rumsfeld's sister, don't you know. That's gotta be good for something. She also roomed with General Norman Swartzkopf's sister in college and called him "Normy."

Meanwhile, the current communications director at our collective high school is being inundated with requests for Rahm's high school yearbook. You know you've made it when the British tabloids are writing up your bio and come looking for those early photos.

The Emanuel boys were just featured on Charlie Rose [did I mention that Charlie was a year ahead of me at Duke?]. The Josh Lyman character on The West Wing was modeled after Rahm. His brother Ari, a talent agent, is the role model for Jeremy Piven's character on Entourage. [FYI: I knew Jeremy's dad, Byrne.] Rahm's other brother, Zeke, is a noted oncologist who writes essays on bioethics. Can you imagine what dinnertime was like growing up in that house?

Supremely unimpressed? Okay, here's my big finish -- I am not too many degrees away from Barack Obama, either. So there. Any guesses how close I am?

Tick tock. Tick tock.

Yeah, yeah, we're both Chicagoans. But that's not it. [Although, never underestimate the bond Chicagoans have with one another. For example, there is an enormous group of Chicagoans living in LA that get together and party every year. They drink Chicago beer and wash off the dust of earthquakes, the soot of fires and the gunk from mudslides. I think they even play some sixteen inch softball and have stuffed pizza airlifted in].

Better than just being fellow Chicagoans, Barack and I are also White Sox fans. Is that incredible or what? Turns out, I spent the first ten years of my life growing up in his neighborhood, just a few blocks from the Obamas' current polling place. The Hyde Park/Kenwood area is very liberal and very tight knit. It's anchored by the University of Chicago and remains one of the few stable, integrated neighborhoods in the city. My family moved to the northern suburbs anyway. Where they bleed Cubs blue. However, in Chicago your baseball allegiance is forever determined by the neighborhood where you were born -- tattooed indelibly on your soul, no matter where else you may move in the city.  

Am I connected or what? But wait, there's more, she continued, annoyingly. 

At one time Barack and Michelle both worked as attorneys at my grandfather's swank law firm, the bonds of which are often as sacred as initiation into a secret society. Or as long as you make partner. Later Michelle became a college dean and Barack taught constitutional law -- ta-da!! -- both at the same university my father attended. I can feel our DNA intertwining even as I type.
Okay, I've never actually met Rahm or Barack or Michelle. They sure as heck don't know me from a run of the mill stalker.

But in Chicago, when you share history from the same neighborhood, the same college, the same law firm, and even follow the same baseball team, you will greet each other like family. If you should ever meet. No, really, it could happen.  

Just in case, I'm picking out a dress for the inaugural ball. For those who are wondering, I'm thinking something understated, perhaps a simple polar fleece. 

1 comment:

Remo said...

Geesh. I thought you were going to name some important people.

I saw Mike Tyson getting arrested once.