One of my favorite newspaper features used to be the “Love Is. . .” cartoon.
I cut out more than my share of the cartoons over the years, and I still enjoy them today. I’ve never seen this one, but I think it could apply to the Curmudgeon and me:
Love Is . . .
Going to “An Evening With the Clintons” because your wife asked you to go.
In case you’re wondering, the Curmudgeon stepped up when I proposed forgoing a quiet evening at home to drive 40 minutes in the driving rain, fight for a parking space and wait in a downpour to see Bill and Hillary Clinton at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, CT.
Getting him to go wasn’t easy. And when we got there, I had to jump out of the car during a traffic jam to stand in line to get our tickets, taking our only umbrella with me.
The ever-resourceful Curmudgeon put his barn jacket over his head to combat the rain, but looked a little frazzled when he finally walked through the theater doors. As he passed through the metal detector, I had a feeling I’d be hearing “I told you so” for the rest of the night.
He really didn’t want to go, and spent the previous two days telling me reasons why he’d rather stay home. “The Clintons are old news,” he said. He cited a list of other reasons, which I’ll keep to myself to avoid being accused of breaching the marital code.
But he wasn’t interested. And it was clear that I’d have to use all of my cunning and guile to convince him to join me. I started with flattery, telling him that he’s always been a fierce political animal, one of the most engaged followers of politics and current events I know.
I suggested that his disinterest in attending the Clintons’ talk indicated a softening of his edge and might even be the first signs of political apathy that sometimes accompanies old age. I reminded him that he’s a political/economics major who’s just slightly less obsessed with politics than sports.
I was getting nowhere when I pulled out the ultimate tool in the marital arsenal: the suggestion that he think about it for 24 hours and get back to me. He seemed to like that idea, or at least he didn’t argue with me.
I’m not a huge supporter of the Clintons, but I was a newspaper reporter and editor for much of Bill Clinton’s presidency. I covered Hillary Clinton’s visit to New Haven, CT., during one of her husband’s campaigns. I had the dubious honor of calling prominent Connecticut attorneys to see if they thought Bill Clinton faced impeachment after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. (Ah, the thrill of being a general assignment news reporter.)
I supported Hillary during her presidential run in 2016, and was among those who threatened to move to Canada if she lost. She did and we all stayed, but you get my drift. I wanted her to win, and I’m not exactly doing cartwheels about our leadership in Washington these days.
The Curmudgeon, who also voted for Hillary, considers himself a conservative Democrat, is anti Trump and is disgusted by the far right and far left. (He just told me how to describe him.) I thought he’d be a good companion at this event.
I got the idea to go to the Clinton talk one morning after seeing a commercial on TV. It sounded interesting, intriguing enough to get me out of the house on a Friday night when I usually want to veg at home. I thought it might be fun to go with the Curmudgeon. A few years ago, we saw Kareem Abdul Jabbar at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and it was really fun.
So I thought I’d give it a shot, sending the Curmudgeon into overdrive with a series of possible scenarios.
“There aren’t going to be women crying in the audience, are there?” he asked. “Because I’m leaving if that happens.”
“I don’t think so,” I said.
“And I hope Bill Clinton is not going to talk about the #MeToo Movement,” he said. “I just hope he doesn’t go there.”
“I don’t think he will,” I offered. “I mean, we all know he’s had his own issues with women.”
After 35 years of marriage, I’m a pretty good judge of when to throw out an invitation to the Curmudgeon, and when to make my own plans. As you’ll recall, he stood firm in his refusal to see “A Star Is Born” several months ago, forcing me to go to the movies by myself to see it.
But a political talk on a Friday night, even by a pair of so-called has-beens, seemed like it might be in his wheelhouse. Knowing him as I do, I had a hard time believing he wasn’t interested in hearing what the Clintons had to say. After all, this is a man who watches “Morning Joe” while he gets ready for work, and carved out time on his vacation to watch the release of the Mueller report.
He finally relented on Friday morning, telling me he’d go and what time we should leave to get there in time. He didn’t balk when I told him I bought orchestra seats for $99 each, agreeing it made sense to sit close to the stage so we could actually see them.
But at the heart of it, I know he came as a favor to me. He told his law partner Sean that he planned to go, but added, “Please don’t tell a soul what I’m doing tonight. My wife roped me into this.”
Seeing and listening to Bill Clinton in person reminds you why he was twice elected president. He’s charming and engaging, seeming more like a good old southern boy than an erudite Yale Law School graduate and Rhodes scholar, former governor and two-term president.
He’s self-deprecating and deferential to his wife, who commanded the microphone more than he did during Friday’s talk. He captured the audience with his tales of chasing Hillary around Yale Law School like a love sick puppy, and she ate it up along with everyone else.
It’s not hard to imagine the two of them sitting at home discussing current events, though Hillary admitted they’re on a strict diet when it comes to news. And though they can both look back fondly on their political careers, they say their greatest joy today is being grandparents to their daughter Chelsea’s family, which will expand to three children this summer.
Though there are some who suggest that Hillary may be open to another run in 2020, it’s not going to happen. At least that’s my prediction. But I’ve been wrong before, so who knows? I didn’t give Tiger Woods a chance of winning the Masters, and we all know how that turned out.