Linda made me promise to behave. My reward would be a placemat sized, engraved invitation for the Inauguration of George H W Bush. I would be attending the biggest Texas party since Lyndon Johnson propped his boots on the Oval Office desk. I packed my Stetson and shredded my Democratic Party ID card. I was on my way to Washington with Linda.
I met Linda at Girls Raised In The South meeting held in Seattle. We stood around the buffet complaining about the Northwest, while we stuffed deviled eggs into our mouths. We became fast friends. Linda was from Texas and had big blond hair. At SMU, she was the head majorette. It earned her a gold sequined outfit that accentuated her Texas sized boobs. Even though I had no big hair, I had lived in Dallas. I knew how to say, “Shit howdy,” with the best of them. My favorite line from a jukebox was, “Don’t cry down my back, baby, you might rust my spurs.” My twang was twanging up like a banjo in anticipation of the Inauguration. I could hardly wait to be in DC with the Texans.
We packed our chiffon evening gowns, curling irons, and a Brinks truck full of jewelry. We arrived at the posh, private University Club. We were knee deep in velvet, polished mahogany and American flags. Our first stop was Linda’s friend’s suite. They had personally seen that Bush had crushed Dukakis in every state but ten. Shit howdy. They were pleased as punch to see us.
They handed us our inauguration tickets, and explained that we had responsibilities. We were to work the event. We would seat the diplomats right below the presidential podium.
The next morning, we dressed in our knit suits with the fancy buttons and cloaked ourselves in mink. Linda took the command. She would stand in the center aisle and personally guide the guests to their seats. I would wait at the left side of the grand marble steps that led to podium. I held in my hands the list of all diplomats allowed entrance into our secure area. We were very important. We were the mink barricade.
I was drawling out, “Welcome to Bush’s Inauguration,” to a silver haired man with glasses and his aide.
“May I see ya’ll’s invitation please?” The embarrassed aide stated that he had forgotten their invitations.
“I’m sorry. This area is reserved for diplomats. Ya’ll can find seating in the public area.” I pointed to the tiny dots of people, about a mile back, standing behind the television trucks. Both men looked perturbed.
“Madam, this is Javier Perez de Cuellar.”
“Why that’s nice.” I smiled at the older man. “But rules are rules, and you must have an invitation. I can’t let just anybody in.” I stood firm in my fur coat.
“Madam, this is Javier Perez de Cuellar, the Secretary Gen-er-al of the United Nations.” He stressed the word general by slowly pronouncing every syllable.
Cuellar? I had never heard of this guy. What happened to U Thant?
I looked at my list. There he was. In my best southern Spanish accent., I said, “I am ever so sorry Seen-yors.” I pointed them to Linda who was staring in our direction.
Later, I noticed there were papers on the marble steps blowing in the breeze. I snatched them up and stuffed them into the trashcan by the center aisle. There was a man standing near the trashcan.
“Excuse me sir, you’ll have to move.” He did not speak, so I continued, “You’re blocking the view.” I pointed behind me to Cuellar.
“I’m CIA,” he said with no expression.
“I can’t help that. You’ll simply have to move.” It’s impossible to argue with a lady in a mink coat. “Do you see that man there? That’s Javier Perez de Cuellar, the Secretary Gen-er-al of the UN. He cannot see because of you!” Everyone knows that in Texas Hold Em, a general trumps an agent. As he slid off to the side, Linda charged up.
“What do you think you are doing?”
“What do you mean? That guy was in front of our area.”
“No. You let someone in without an invitation.”
“That was the…”
“Nobody gets in without an invitation.”
“But, he was on my list.”
I looked at my hands. I was holding no list. I had lost my list! I remembered the trashcan and picking up papers off the steps. Had I thrown it out? Maybe that CIA guy did a sleight of hand and stole it. He was pissed off that I made him move.
“Forget the list,” she said,” Just make sure that, from now on, everyone has an invitation.”
That’s when a man with twinkling eyes walked up to me.
“Welcome to the Inauguration. May I see your invitation?”
With a deep voice and a smile, he said, “I don’t have an invitation.” His thick black eyebrows and matching mustache made him look like Groucho Marx without the cigar. He was obviously a gatecrasher.
I went through my rehearsed dialogue, pointing to the tiny crowd of people in the distance.
“I’m on the list. I am Saddam Hussein.” The twinkle in his eyes became knife sharp.
“I’m sorry, Mr.-Whose Sane?”
“President Hussein. I am the President of Iraq.”
No, no. Hussein was a king from Jordan. I knew that. Did he think I was stupid?
“That’s nice,” I said, “but you must have an invitation.” I bristled my mink.
“Let me see your guest list,” and he grabbed hard at my coat. I heard the stitches pop in the seam of my sleeve. He had ripped my mink! This was war.
He began to shout in a weird language. The CIA man rushed over. He threw himself between Hussein and me.
“What’s the problem?”
“This man was not invited, then he assaulted my coat! ” I stared at Saddam.
“I’m leaving. You’ve not heard the last from me!” Saddam shot me a glare.
“Oh, go hide in a hole,” I muttered under my breath.
I thanked Mr. CIA, who was whispering into his lapel pin.
Linda came running up. I told her about the gatecrasher and being saved by the CIA. We seated ourselves on the front row and watched Ronald Reagan hand George Bush the reins of power. Ronny’s neck was wrapped in a good guy white scarf, and George sported a silver tie. I turned to Cuellar behind me and gave him a big thumbs up.
Later that afternoon, while we looking for ourselves on television and getting gussied up for the Black Tie and Boots Ball, we heard Dan Rather talking about an Arab man at the Inauguration. Apparently he felt snubbed and had stormed back to Iraq in his private jet. Could that have been same the man who claimed to have forgotten his invite? What a pissy guy.
Saddam Hussein was like a toddler begging for attention. After the Inauguration, President Bush gave him attention. He blasted the hell out of him in Desert Storm. Perhaps if Saddam had been a bit more responsible and held on to his invitation, he could have danced the Texas two-step like the rest of us.