Wednesday, July 2, 2014

me and dubya (day 2)

mostly, it was because the self-appointed "politics" reporter (a senior philosophy major with a thing for big red and slim jims) called in sick that day.

i like to think it was because of my stellar reporting skills which had thus far covered a cloned sheep named dolly and a pat green concert. it was my second week and i was on my way to cover an event where then-governor of texas george w. bush was supposed to speak.

people in the newsroom said something about everyone in the country waiting for dubya to announce a presidential bid for the fall. i heard "birthday party for a state senator" and i thought about the cake.

it was a birthday party at a popular dancehall. balloons. confetti. the senator's doting wife and bored kids were there, but really, the only reason anybody showed up at all was the hope that the governor was going to show up.

the media, which included myself, our photographer brandon, and two news crews were herded into a closet-like office and told to wait. security officers milled around the outside of the door and once we were in, we weren't allowed to leave until dubya came and went.

twenty minutes later, and twenty minutes late, he arrived. my first thought was something like: "this guy is SHORT." we were eye-to-eye and in all my poli sci classes, i was sure there was some written law that would-be presidents had to be taller than the average fifth grader.

he greeted us, "the press," (i snickered and beamed a little at being called the "press" so early in my career). the houston chronicle reporter was there, along with a camera crew and reporter from "inside edition." i was floored. i loved inside edition. they went first, naturally, because i was scared shitless all of a sudden.

houston chronicle asked about him running. he shot them down. inside edition went next, prodding him to give the public hints about his plans. he got mad and told them "i'm not talking about THAT right now, we're here to celebrate ol' senator "what's-his-name's" birthday, dagummit."

and swear to gosh, he even did that famous creepy laugh of his, even back then. like beavis and butthead meet a lawnmower.

he was frothy by the time he turned toward me and when his uptight little assistant poked at me with a "do you have a question?" eyebrow wiggle, i panicked.

i stammered. i considered shaking my head no, but knew i'd be toast if i went back to the paper with NOTHING, so i winged it.

"do you like barbecue? have you tried frank's country store yet?"

it was the best i could do, ya'll. i'd just eaten a pulled pork sandwich on the way over, i probably had barbecue sauce on my face. it's what i was working with.

poor dubya looked almost as confused as i did and then he smiled. he SMILED!

he dubya-laughed a good few seconds and then he gave us a 10-minute sound bite about how much he loved bryan/college station, how much he loved the aggies, and how proud his family was of his dad's presidential library that was currently under construction out by the political science buildings (my homies.)

dubya liked barbecue and dubya was eventually elected. twice.

as i grew older, graduated and moved on, i had my disagreements with some of dubya's politics, but i never forgot the day he did me a solid and saved me from one of the worst questions of all times.

and to this day, barbecue sandwiches
are still my good luck totem...

1 comment:

  1. I love Texas barbeque (especially Coupland Inn) and the twang in your writing style, Megan.

    Had to think of the late, great Molly Ivins when I read this. Look forward to more.