As I told you in the previous post, I went to Charlotte to roll around in the festivities at the Democratic National Convention. I was not a delegate so I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who made it into the arena.
Security was tight. No sneaking in for me.
BUT, the feeling on the streets was palpable. This was a gathering of like-minded people from all across the country. It was the place to get the party started.
MSNBC set up a broadcast stage in the courtyard of an outdoor mall near the convention. I saw all my favorites, but my number one guy, Chris Matthews, was the most frequent face.
The political contributors to the shows were there as well. I managed to get a photo with two of my favs—former Governor Ed Rendell and Rep Elijah Cummings.
I was amazed at the vast number of men in attendance. The streets were full. Too many handsome faces to count. Lots of ill fitting suits, though. I thought, they’re Democrats—not much extra cash for Ermenegildo Zegna for the 99%.
I met lots of new friends and I was happy to see an old face from my past. I thought he might attend. A guy I was kind of mad at long ago. My reasons are irrelevant, but it was great to see him and I looked forward to catching up. We made a date for Wednesday night.
When I showed up at the Westin Lobby Lounge it was extremely crowded with convention attendees. I guess the fire marshall had turned away many from the evening activities inside the convention when it became a safety issue. They didn’t seem angry, as I might’ve been, just excited to watch what was going on inside the arena on the multiple flat screen televisions throughout the lounge. Since I arrived before my date I immediately searched for an open table, luckily found one, settled in and waited for him.
I saw him immediately when he arrived. He was a formidable figure in his impeccably tailored black suit and burgundy and black striped tie and all eyes were on him as he walked my way. He always had a great smile and I found myself smiling, too, as I saw that familiar boyish grin.
He knew how to tell a story and started in immediately. I was glad I’d ordered a cocktail and salad because he could do some serious talking so I ate while he caught me up on his life.
He’d been the ultimate Mr. Big Time in his career–the CEO of a major corporation. He was successful at his job and since retirement he had the luxury of being able to focus on philanthropic endeavors. I think he missed many parts of his former career, but was also feeling proud of his do-gooder stuff.
He mentioned how hard his former company had been hit by the brutal economic disaster our country had faced. He said he didn’t think he could’ve done a better job of navigating his corporation through those rough waters than the new CEO. Given his personality and, well, ego, I think there was a small part of him that would’ve liked to try.
I was curious about his take on what companies like his were doing to survive. It all seemed so complicated. He broke it all down for me, step by step. Business has never been an area of strength for me but when he was finished I finally understood clearly the true impact of what had happened.
I remembered he had nice hands and noticed them frequently as he talked and gestured. I also forgot just how funny he was. He had me laughing too many times to count.
I could tell he liked making me laugh.
My anger dissipated. I’d missed him. That’s how life is I guess. We hold on to stupid stuff like anger or disappointment longer than we need to. He’s human, flawed in ways that my younger self just couldn’t accept.
I’m not so judgmental these days.
When our date ended he thanked me for listening and walked away with that same smile he came in with. I hoped to see him again soon. He taught me much that night and I was grateful for the experience. He said one thing that I’ll never forget. It’s not heard very often these days and even if someone else says it I’ll now always think of him. Such a simple thing, basic really, but it summed up everything he had shared.
“It was a highly inconvenient thing for them in our debates that I was just a country boy from Arkansas and I came from a place where people still thought two and two is four.” Bill Clinton, DNC Speech 2012