As a StoryTerrace writer, Allison interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below
“Oh my, you dropped our Socks!”
She said it right to me, touching my shoulder in apology.
The commentator about my less-than-nimble fingers was Hillary Clinton (yep, that one) on the occasion of an invite I received to visit the White House during a violence prevention gathering in Washington DC.
As it turned out, she hit me pretty hard while pushing her way to the back of the room, opening the secret paneled door as we all looked forward to seeing the First Hubby come in.
Little did she know that I was standing in the very swipe range of that passage, blocking her way while innocently dunking the cat-shaped cookies they had given us into my cuppa! (The Clinton’s official house cat was named Socks!) I, of course, was dumbfounded and momentarily perplexed, causing me to step on the poor pastry beast’s crumbly head. Which, in looking back, was probably a good thing: I already was so distracted, I couldn’t think of anything to say.
But we have to back up a bit. The year was about 1998, and there I was, standing in line on the street earlier that day, next to get permission to go through the high-security screening house on the prairie of the White House lawn. “Everyone must be searched” someone bellowed consistently. When all of a sudden, a big, bold arm smacks me on the chest, stopping me in my tracks.
“Sorry, sir,” the Secret Service guy says, “wait here a few minutes.”
Out of nowhere, a small entourage of black vehicles, untelling of their occupants, pulls arrogantly up to the curb. Wandering eyes pierce us all as two or three guards jump free, scanning everything. Then, they part, and, reclaiming the feel of classiness, a regal woman lays her sturdy but adorned foot on the walkway, gently glancing about for wrinkles in her attire.
“Mrs. King,” the agent in charge proclaims, “Good to see you. This way with your men, please.”
Turns out, even the good guys with private guns had to go through the scanning. Off they were whisked. Silently, I admired my fortune: “Wow, that was cool,” I say to whoever happened to be behind me.
Inside the house, the armed guards re-dress after their searches, belting back their devices and pistols. I’m pushed past and told to go forth as I’m clearly no threat. “The reception is straight ahead,” someone noted.
Steps outside, as I gazed about in awe, there she was. Standing quietly, alone, unharnessed by anyone. Only before that comes into focus, I see her stumble and squeal with surprise: “Oh, my,” exclaims Coretta Scott King, the wife of America’s own Martin Luther, regaining her posture instantly.
“Oh, dear,” she then says, stepping towards me as she recovers. “I misstepped. Believe I twisted my ankle!” she shares, to me I guess. I’m the only other one there.
Gallantly, and without options to hide behind, I meet her step. She smiles, smoothes her dress again, and says in the most powerfully innocent proclamation of righteousness my mind can comprehend… says it literally this way, words from the mouth of the loving wife of an outstanding legend of justice, capturing what history never got: “Young man: Could you possibly help me make it to the White House?”
Then, needing no affirmation, she inserts her arm around mine and propels us both forward, never to utter another word to me.
In stunned and utter silence, seconds drag and drag in the force of wow. We approached the building, only then to be embroiled in agents who rolled out of the building’s door and swooped up from behind, regaining their assigned expectations.
“We got it, sir,” one of them said, making clear that his offering to continue with Madam King was hardly a suggestion. “Please continue to the reception,” another steward offered. “There are teas and cookies inside.”
And so there I was, flummoxed and confused, holding myself up in delight and wonder. Speechless. Gaining comfort in the stability of the wall, desperately seeking to calm my nerves with a dip and sip, when. BOOM!