By Emily Rosen
You all must know those “parlor games” people play, as in “Ok, let’s go around the room, everyone, and tell us ‘Who would you like to BE in your next life?’ … or ‘What was the scariest time of your life?’ … or ‘Tell us about your first kiss.’
Well, when they came to ‘What was the dumbest thing you ever did?’ I was hit with a sudden case of déjà vous and I realized that I’d never told anyone this story before.
It was 1992. I was leading two lives and they were definitely fighting each other. On the one hand, I was the perfect housewife, hovering mother of two grown sons, creator of dazzling parties for the right people, country club robot – golf, tennis, luncheons the right clothes.
On the other hand, I was an empty nester, looking for something more meaningful to me. Women of my generation were not scrambling to go back to work, especially if their husbands’ income was sufficient for their preferred lifestyle. Such an act might suggest a need to supplement that income and “how would that look?” Subtle, but I “got” it.
So I went half way and took a job freelancing for a local newspaper in Westchester County where I lived. And that was kind of fun. It didn’t interfere with my “other” life. I could go on most assignments on my own time and never missed a deadline.
I had always been somewhat of a political junkie, and if you don’t remember 1992, allow me to massage your memory. It was just another political year with the usual cast of many characters vying for the big job: Jerry Brown, Bob Kerry, Bill Clinton, Eugene McCarthy, Paul Tsongas and a couple of other folks long forgotten, but at the time, people who actually thought they could be leaders of the world. And Westchester County, commuter distance from New York City, was pocketed with big money folks who were always anxious to give bucks for a touch of fame – if not something even more substantial than that.
Candidates and their surrogates … wives, mothers, sisters, etc. were on the trail speaking for their “man” at wealthy homes all over the county raising campaign money. And at various times, my editor would ask me to interview some of those very dull people, which I reluctantly did, happy only to see my byline – anywhere!
On this particular day, I was scheduled to play in a tennis tournament when my editor called. I sighed and made a face, invisible of course, across telephone lines. “Who is it THIS time?” I asked.
Her voice barely came through as I heard her mumble an unfamiliar name. “Listen, Sandy,” I said. “No one ever even heard of her. It’s really a waste of time and, besides, I’m on my way to play in a tennis tournament. Sorry.”
Sandy was uncanny in her ability to smell a story, and she was usually very tenacious. But this time, she capitulated. “Yeah,” she said. “I guess you’re right … another nobody. Good luck in your tournament.”
And that’s how I never got to interview the person “no one ever heard of” … Hillary Clinton.