24 February 2008

23. An American Woman In Taiwan

It started in a crowd, an urgent, threatening crowd. I got Hillary Clinton into the car, in the driver's seat. I sat in the passenger seat and had a hard time clicking the seat belt closed. We drove in silence and I kept looking over at her, trying to figure out what to say. She was a good driver, though a bit of a tailgater (which makes me nervous). At some point, I was suddenly in the back seat, right behind her, and I had a big stack of papers on my lap that I was sorting into piles on the seat next to me. I was holding some paper clips between my teeth, which is perhaps why I spoke with a German-Russian accent.

I told her, Senator Clinton, ma'am, I would be happy to drive if you have something else you need to do, but she just smiled and kept driving.

On a highway we had to stop short just as we would have passed under a bridge, since a road crew was blocking almost the whole road, filling in a giant, muddy, watery hole right in front of us that had an orange road barrier sticking out of it, with more barriers around the hole. The workers were very focused on their jobs and didn't look up.

Hillary opened the door and got out, looking around, and so did I, thinking she wanted me to drive now. The workers began elbowing each other and muttering in South-of-the-Thames accents, Isn't that Hillary, love? Then we got back in the car and she drove - backing up and turning to drive across the wide median to the other side of the highway, and we headed back the way he had come.

She looked at me through the rear-view mirror and asked why I wanted to drive. I said, surprised that it wasn't obvious, Well, ma'am, because you are the next President of the United States, and I want to help you. I'm sure there is something you want to do besides driving the car. Even if it's thinking. Thinking is very important. I want to help you become the next President of the United States. She grew thoughtful.

We arrived at a dining hall at the University of Virginia (my undergrad). Bill Clinton was there. My heart leapt and I blushed when I saw him. Hillary and I got separated. I knew I was supposed to be meeting someone else there, yet I also knew that I was responsible for bringing the Clintons to the dining hall.

Strange security measures were in place there: trays bolted to tables, everything brightly lit, only one direction to walk in. I got a tray, silverware, an empty glass, and a monkey dish of pineapple.

The Clintons and I sat in a row at a table and started talking. Then my parents -- as they were 18 years ago -- came up to us. I introduced them, but the Clintons already knew who they were. My Dad did a happy little jig, kicking his feet up, then my Mom pulled him away. I felt guilty, because it was my parents I was supposed to meet, and I apologized to the Clintons because I had to go with my parents, but they were like, No no no, stay here.

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