I thought about my meeting with Hillary last week and how badly it had gone. And then I remembered that she had had a concussion only a few months ago. She was obviously still experiencing some residual confusion. I decided to give her another chance.
I tracked her down at Et Voila! the pricy D.C. restaurant.
She was having a late lunch with an elderly gentleman who I immediately recognized as the author Phillip Roth. As I approached their table, he blew out a candle on top of a luscious-looking mille-feuille. They were obviously having a belated birthday celebration of his 80th birthday. Throughout most of the interview I tried to act as if I didn't know who he was. I was there, after all, to focus on Hillary.
Linda Urbach: Oh, Hill, I hope I'm not interrupting.
Hillary Clinton: You are. And please don't call me Hill.
LU: OK, ma'am.
HC: Don't call me ma'am, either. That's what they call the Queen.
[I gave her a long meaningful look.]
HC: Well, all right, ma'am it is.
LU: I was wrong to try and push the It Takes a Dog idea down your throat at our last meeting and I wanted to apologize.
HC: No apology necessary.
LU: You should write what you want to write. Write about what you know. But I do think too much government stuff is boring and I have a few ideas to liven it up. For example, I know Simon and Schuster are expecting you to cover things like the critical role of women and girls in developing economies. Boring. But listen, how about if you throw in some recipes? You could do a fusion thing. Like Chicken Maklooba/Chicago-style pizza. I could do a sample paragraph to show you...
HC: You certainly have difficulty taking no for an answer, Ms. Urbach.
LU: Au contraire. My books have been rejected by some of the biggest publishing companies in the business. I've got "no's" coming out of the wazoo.
[I laughed. They didn't.]
HC: Let me explain, Ms. Urbach. I already have some highly qualified writers lined up to help me with my book. Besides, I'm perfectly capable of writing much of it myself.
LU: You're kidding!
HC: Perhaps you're unaware of the fact that I was the first student commencement speaker in the history of Wellesley College. I wrote my own speech and I got a standing seven-minute ovation.
[I suddenly realized whom I was dealing with here. Not just possibly the next president of the United States but someone who got through college without cheating. My whole attitude toward her changed. She was in a position to help me more than I could help her.]
LU: I'm wondering , ma'am, if you would consider writing me a blurb for my next book?
HC: I really have very little time to read.
LU: You don't have to read it... I'll write the blurb and you can just sign it.
HC: I'm sorry. I can't do that.
LU: Well, maybe Mr. Roth here would...
PR: I remember you now! You were the one who trespassed on my property last year.
[He remembered me! I was thrilled beyond belief. A review from him would be even better than one from Hillary.]
HR: Get her out of here! She's a menace.
[I was a little taken aback by his irritability. Well, he is 80, after all.]
LU: Ma'am, can I ask you one last favor before I go?
HC: What is it?
LU: Would you say that thing that all the presidents say?
HC: But, I'm not the president.
LU: Not yet.
[She smiled for the first time. I just love her smile!]
HC: All right. [She stood up and placed her hand on my shoulder.] God bless you and God bless the United States of America.
Mr. Roth had summoned the maître d' and they both escorted me out. I was surprised how strong Roth's grip was. I don't care what he says, he definitely has more books in him.