The Blue Bell Sorority Sisters weren’t the only ones who got tickets to the Republican National Committee’s midterm election night party. But they kept going on and on about it as if they were. Who was going to be there. What they were going to wear.
I tried to tell them once or twice I also had a ticket, but it fell on deaf and dumb ears because they were shocked to see their lowly intern there.
Callie was now interning at the RNC and invited me as her wingman. Since my only other invitation was to The Congressman’s biannual election night “Win, Lose, or Draw” party, I took her up on it.
I’m glad I wasn’t expecting the glamour of the White House Correspondents Dinner because instead, I got a mash-up of a Scientology rally and senior prom.
The grandeur of the reception was further downgraded when we learned the bar was cash-only and we were going to have to find some men to pay for our drinks.
I wasn’t the only one from the Burr program; my sweet little elfin roommate was also there. From a picture of us that night, it seems the only thing I could afford was white wine.
I spotted the Blue Bell Sorority Sisters in a small side room trying to fit in with a young group watching the coverage from a rolled-in TV. They stayed there all night. From the little I saw, the only ones they spoke to that night were themselves. I hope they liked what the other was wearing.
Callie had run into some professional and personal acquaintances, and I was stuck with a lot of formal banter.
“What do you do?”
“What are you going to do after graduation?”
“What’s your major?”
“I love this band!”
“Please kill me.”
“No, seriously. I saw a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue back there. Just waterboard me with it.”
I looked around, and someone caught my eye. He was handsome, but that’s not what struck me. He was alone. He stood out like a sore thumb amongst the circle of cliques. Liquid courage had arrived a little while earlier, and I uncharacteristically decided to make the first move.
I stepped back from the bullsh*t banter, took a sip and looked at him until he caught me. I slid back into my clique and waited. Hmmm… didn’t take. Ok, again. I looked to my left and found him awkwardly trying to pull off the same trick.
The f*ck-me eye game got stale quick, but I played a round every couple of minutes. It was almost a stalemate until I was startled by someone behind me. “I thought I just better go talk to her. Maybe get a quote?” And then he chuckled.
He was twenty-four and a reporter for a conservative magazine exclusively read by gun-owners and the retired. He dressed and looked like a yuppie Han Solo; exactly my type.
We chatted and flirted until he excused himself to do a little bit more research. Well, things were looking up!
“My major? Government!”
“After college? I’m moving to D.C.”
“Waterboarding? Oh, no thank you. I can’t afford Johnnie Walker Blue”.
Reporter came back after trolling the perimeter of the party for a story. It was getting late, and at that point, no one cared Reporter let Callie and me into the press-only suite, which was just a conference room with complimentary domestic beer.
We stayed until the backlights were turned off, and the garish white overheads were turned on. Fortunately, the close of the election night party didn’t signal the end of the evening. Callie went home, and the next thing I remember is Reporter and me alone in a booth at The Bombay Club on Connecticut Ave.
I must have been pretty smitten or pretty drunk because I hate Indian food with a passion. It started in childhood after watching Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. At Pankot Palace, Indy, Short Round, and not-Marion were given the royal treatment and served roaches, snake surprise, monkey brains, and something simple, eyeball soup.
While that excuse sounds completely ignorant and ethnocentric, I don’t care. That scene altered my DNA, and my natural instinct toward spicy curry is both fight and flight. I do like naan, but naan a meal don’t make.
Nevertheless, patrons who do like upscale Indian food were finishing dinner while we flagrantly sloshed red wine and ignored the fact we were sitting on a white silk banquette.
Whether it was the wine, the soft lighting of a romantic restaurant, or the colorful images of the Kama Sutra dancing in my head, impulsively I pounced on him like the lions of India pounce on Bambi. We behaved like twelve-year-olds at a movie theater and cleared out the restaurant with our refined behavior.
Our poor waiter was a good sport. He probably bet since we were the last ones there, he could get one final fat tip that night if he ignored us and kept our glasses full. He won that bet.
We left, and Reporter hailed a cab. Two twenty-somethings with frightening tangible chemistry, drunk on politics and booze, of course, we decided to go back to his place.
The next morning I had a hard time justifying my 6:30 walk of shame. Unfortunately, ridiculous Clintonesque reasoning wouldn’t work here. Reporter did have sexual relations with this woman.
To put the evening in context, historically and statistically, this was supposed to be the Republican’s big night. A sitting President’s party had lost seats in every midterm election since The Great Depression. Although they still retained a majority in the next Congress, that night the Republicans lost five House seats while keeping the same number in the Senate. The voters had spoken; they were sick of the Lewinsky scandal. It took a midterm election and losing seats for the Republican leadership to finally understand that the public didn’t want Clinton removed from office.
Democrat leadership claimed victory and hoped the country’s focus was no longer on the President’s legal troubles and libido. Newt Gingrich and the Republicans claimed victory since it was the first time in seventy years that the party kept the House for three terms. Regardless, with the impeachment hearings only two weeks away it looked less and less likely that the Republicans would be successful at ousting President Clinton.
It was a big night for the Bush family. W. held onto governorship in Texas. Jeb! won Florida.
In any case, neither party made any gains in Governorships that year. The most notable example was a surprise win by a third party candidate in Minnesota; former WWF/E wrestler and conspiracy theorist, Jesse “The Body” Ventura. Governor Ventura, of course, paved the way for his fellow muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger to become “The Governator” of California in 2003.