Astonishingly enough, my now-frequent luncheons out have gone completely unnoticed by The Media At Large. It would seem that Hillary is Doing It Wrong. I've given this quite a bit of thought lately since the former Secretary has been all over the television news, print media, and Interwebs munching on salads with President Obama and rumoured to be lunching with Vice President Biden soon. If Hillary wants to have a nice afternoon meal (or snack, or cocktail with nibblies) with her friends, and she does not want it to become Journalistic Fodder and a Media Event, she should pay attention to the points I delineate below.
1. Location: Hillary went to the White House for lunch. I go to relatively pedestrian, often chain, restaurants. There is no way that a bunch of reporters are hanging out in a press pool at the Ruby Tuesday or the Olive Garden. Additionally, I lunch in Northeastern Ohio, where no one of any consequence lives or works, (unless you count members of the Cleveland Browns football team or the Cleveland Indians baseball team. Right. I didn't think so.)
2. Location 2.0: Hillary and Barack ate (ahem) outdoors. As in, outside. As in, not inside like People. Also as in, They Were Asking For It. Now, while I applaud the Secretary for considering being photographed in natural light, this is an Invitation For A Photo-Op. I, on the other hand, always ask if we can be seated along a wall with no vents so that I am not cold, which pretty much guarantees an obstructed view for cameras. (It is a Given for all Dept. readers that I will not eat outside. How silly.)
3. Companions: Hillary's lunch companions are Washington D.C. elites. My lunch buddies are retired teachers, teachers on summer break, friends, and family. I would venture to say that a good 80% of the people who Hillary pals around with or is related to probably are newsworthy on their own. I would say that a good 99.9% of the people who I can call up and who would know who I was are not. Newsworthy, I mean. This is how I can maintain my Cloak Of Privacy and Anonymity, but Hillary cannot.
I feel like Hillary isn't even trying. That we have in common.
For me, this whole Going To Lunch Thing is part of my new Retirement Philosophy, which I add to every now and then. Of course, I forget what I already adopted as part of my Retirement Philosophy in the past, but I just go ahead and assume that I've mastered it and move on.
Anyway, this latest tenet is inspired by a quote from a favourite book, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. In it, a pariah countess tries to explain to a straitlaced admirer why she is going out that evening to a dinner even though it is hosted by a man she does not care for. She says, "I must go where I am invited or I should be too lonely."
I decided to be mindful of this, so when I was invited to a retirees' monthly luncheon for the staff of the junior high where I served one year, I went. And I also went to the retirees' lunch for the high school. Both were pleasant, and at both, my colleagues said, "I never expected to see you at any of these!" And even though I normally do not care to eat lunch, I found that having a Bloody Mary can be wonderful.
One drawback to that, however, is that it often ends up costing as much as a Lunch. Incredibly, my Bloody Mary at the Olive Garden cost eight bucks. And all I said was, "I'll just have a Bloody Mary." What arrived was a tarted up Bloody Mary containing a skewer with a few olives, slices of pepperoni, and cocktail onions. A couple more slices of pepperoni lay atop the drink. There may or may not have been celery. I was so stunned, I can't remember. When my check came, I was glad I had an old gift card my husband's boss had given him. We don't care for the Olive Garden, but I'm happy to eat Bloody Marys there for lunch on his dime.
Oh, and one more drawback to the Luncheon Bloody Mary. I am often not tall enough to drink it using a straw. Who the hell are these things for, the starting centers in the NBA? Why are they served in fourteen inch tall glasses full of ice, slippery with frost, garnished with a half-cup of foliage, then set down in front of me like a challenge? Yesterday, out lunching with my friends Pam, Sheila, and Sue, my drink arrived and I felt like a toddler who refused her booster seat.
Amid the laughter, lunch was lovely. We talked about things International and Cultural (Croatian customs and Belgium); Education (why are the wackos afraid of Common Core?); Nature (the Pony Swim at Chincoteague); and lots of other things. Probably not much different than what Hillary and the President talked about, topically. And all without the crush of reporters and photographers.
So, Hillary, give me a call or zip me an email. We should definitely do lunch.