The rest of the day was the Barnes & Noble version of a DisneyWorld line. The crowd was cheerful in spite of the heat and many were decked out in Kerry/Edwards pins, shirts and hats. I was lucky enough to be between two families with pre-teen girls. The girls were as excited as if they were going to meet a boy band. It was refreshing that this fandemonium was caused by President Clinton. One of the girls explained the 22nd amendment to her group when a younger girl asked why President Clinton wasn't able to run again so I got a knowledgeable refresher on that topic.
They spent a good deal of time deciding what they would say to him. One girl said she wanted to tell him that she wanted him back as President because the current one sucks. I almost spit out my water. A couple of the other girls were daring her to really say it before the mom of the group intervened. The mom said, "Under no circumstances are you to say the word 'sucks' to the President. But you can figure out another way to say it because he does suck." I laughed out loud at that!
Just when I thought I was making progress toward the inside of the store and air conditioning (it was 90 degrees), I was routed to a hidden line even longer than the first. Once inside the store, I gave up my keys, camera and change because I could only have one book and a wallet on me in the final line to see the President. And I was wanded for weapons by Secret Service. Ooh la la!
After that I was snaking through the aisles on the entire first level of the store to reach the area in the back corner where the signing actually happened. And then someone a little ahead of me spotted him and the girls ahead of me began squealing. I was barely able to stop myself from joining in. He looked very distinguished from a distance as he stood at a counter signing the books.
As we approached the counter, we handed our book to someone who actually presented it to him. The girls in front of me had on Kerry/Edwards pins and Clinton immediately commended them for wearing them. He was very sweet and funny with the girls and they were practically swooning by the time they left him with their signed books.
When I got to the counter, he shook my hand and said in that unmistakable sexy drawl, "Thank you for coming." He looked into my eyes as he held my hand for that brief moment. His interest and his attention were not forced or phony even after signing books for at least 500 people ahead of me. Then as he signed my book, I said, "We really miss you, Mr. President." He looked into my eyes again and replied, "Why thank you." I was now ready to swoon. And I am not embarrassed to admit that I got teary as I walked away because I desperately miss him as our President. I miss him because I always felt like he was a real public servant who was truly interested in the welfare of the citizens of our country.
I was thrilled as I walked back to my car. I was standing next to a lady and as we waited for the light at the intersection to change I said, "He was so worth the wait!" She agreed. She told me that she was from Honduras and moved to the U.S. in 1999 but she had admired him from the time he became President. She regretted not being able to vote for him. But she just had to meet him when she heard he was coming to New Orleans because he had such an impact on her. She said she was casting her first vote in a Presidential election for John Kerry and was working on getting friends and family registered to vote.
I spoke later in the evening with a friend who was behind me by about a half hour in line. He had the same impression I did about the genuineness of President Clinton's focus on him when he shook his hand. My friend felt like he truly cared about making a connection with each person.
I was very sorry to hear yesterday that he was hospitalized. My friend had actually commented on Wednesday about his coloring and thought he looked pale. I attributed it to his not wearing makeup but apparently my physical therapist buddy was very observant that day.
I love Bill Clinton and wish him a speedy recovery from his bypass surgery.