Excuse me, young man?
Could you help me?
I need a black suit
Size 38, I think
What is the occasion, sir?
I’m going to The White House
Did you say The White House, sir?
Yes, the correspondent’s Christmas Party
My son invited me and I have a message for the President
We’ll have to tailor these pants, sir
I must be shrinking
Excuse me, sir? Did you say sinking?
I’m sorry, I have Parkinson’s Disease
Sometimes it’s hard to understand me
I said shrinking
Oh, yes. I’m sorry sir. My grandfather has Parkinson’s too. He used to be a farmer
I used to be an artist
I’d like that Garcia tie
And a coral silk dress shirt
9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time
Northwest Terminal Sea-Tac Airport
3478 miles to go
His hand-carved maple cane with the cherry wood handle
His very own Parkinson’s disease
And his message
4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time Washington D.C.
Belt looped in black suit pants—6 minutes
Eight small buttons on coral silk shirt –3 minutes per button
Garcia tie knotted—12 minutes
Walking through the door—2 minutes
Message in pocket
5:30 p.m. Official limousine
Bullet-proof windows, snow on the road, slippery, could be late, can’t be late
Don’t look outside
Don’t talk to the driver
Focus on the message
6 p.m. arrival
Under the portico, red carpet
Secret Service, CIA buffed in black leather
The West Wing, awesome power
Focusing on the door, the door
Christmas lights, music, surveillance, clearance, speed
Name, sir? Social Security number, sir? Guest of? You are a guest of whom? Sir?
All right. Cleared!
Right through that door. Follow that escort.
He froze in the doorway, stuttered forward, almost fell
Sir? Line up here and keep moving. You’ll have ten seconds. Shake the President’s hand. Have your picture taken. It’s important to keep moving.
Ten, nine, eight, seven
Half a handshake away
Inside his black suit
Cell phone rings
Too many deep pockets
Fumbling, stumbling, feet stuttering, arms flailing
Cane flies, message aloft
Secret Service advances
Bush’s hand appears, official photo flashed
Sir! Keep moving. . . . Sir.
He’s frozen but his carefully written 5- second message keeps moving
Stuck on the ribbed heel of the secret service agent
Please, Mr. President reconsider your policy on stem cell research.