Lorna Dee's Best Random Thing On The Net: Clinton's Lamb Chop & A Work of Mirth
Here's a little piece I wrote last year that tells more of the story behind the factoid. Enjoy!
A Work of Mirth
I miss his laugh the most. I miss making him laugh, the way I could make him laugh daily. I miss that strange power of our mutual mirth. Hearing it again brought back our first time. He'd picked me up at the bus stop near his house and drove me through the city-suburb maze to get there. On the way I told him my story about meeting Clinton. How we were both the last two at the banquet buffet table, both former poor kids, now laden with baby lamb shanks (my vegan downfall) and delicate cookies. He held a lamb chop in one meaty fist and a tiny plate piled high like a mini earthworks sculpture. He gazed longingly at the cookies, set down his plate after trying to hold it along with the chop, and, not seeing any room on his plate for the cookies, grabbed a huge handful and stuffed them in the pocket of his expensive suit (no cares for dry cleaning bills with Bill); and then he noticed me, also still eating, and sheepishly saluted me with his lamb chop. The President with a pocket full of cookies saluting me with a greasy lamb chop! The Secret Service, tugging at his sleeve and talking on their phones at once. "Yes, he's on his way..." "Why don't they just wheel the whole table into his office?" I thought. "I'm sure he's done worse."
It was funny the way I told it to him. In real life it was surreal, or like a skit on Saturday Night Live, the one where he jogs into the local Burger King and asks the guy at the counter, "Are you going to eat those fries?" And grabbing a handful. Yup, someone who knows Bill well wrote that skit. He had to pull over, he was laughing so hard. We were laughing until the tears made it hard for him to drive. Every word I said just seemed to him to be funnier than the last. That was the way it was with us. When we did talk; me, making him laugh. He thanked me, after he had composed himself enough to drive again. A widower, he said it felt good to laugh again. He hadn't laughed for years, thought he'd forgotten how. After that, I considered it a wifely duty.
Yesterday, on the phone, our easy connection. I don't remember what I said, telling some story or other, that brought back that laugh, a huge wheezing guffaw that made it hard for him to catch his breath. We laughed the entire difficult conversation (a finalized divorce, a house that still needs to be sold, some form needing a notarized signature) - an hour of laughter, catching up on the year. I remember what I'd written to someone: I'd like to find that again. Someone who gets my jokes and vice versa. Someone for whom I am both vice and verses. Someone I can make cry with my laughter. Nice work if you can get it. And, anything but logical. I want to dance in that surreal reel again. What, with the real realm, hey, sometimes you just gotta laugh.
Lorna Dee Cervantes