Disaster Fantasy Dating: An Evening with Condoleezza Rice
One of the problems with trying to maintain an active imaginary dating lifestyle is that it’s a tough thing to control. I had fully intended to take up an imaginary relationship with Jodie Foster after things unexpectedly went south with Liv Tyler. Really, I did, but damn if I didn’t find myself imaginarily dating someone completely unexpected …
See, I keep this other blog. It’s imaginary. And I only update it when I’m jogging. Maybe you didn’t know that about me, but I jog all the time. I mean, I’m not one of those “running is my life” kinds of people, but I’d probably die if I didn’t run. I used to be a fat bastard, on high blood pressure pills (beta blockers) and all. But I changed my diet and continually run my ass off (and am proudly off that pharmaceutical-grade crack for good, not to mention under 200 lbs. for the first time since college).
All this running means I spend a considerable amount of time on the pavement, which gives one ample time to think, which seems to happen easily and freely while running since the blood’s coursing through the veins and organs faster than normal.
I’ve noticed that running is conducive to idea generation as well. Unfortunately, I’ve also noticed that the ideas that come while running often have that dream-like quality of seeming excellent while you’re thinking about them on the road, and then perhaps not so great once you’re back home with the ol’ heart rate back down to normal.
When I worked in D.C. at a major publisher, we often went jogging at lunch time, when we weren’t hitting up Planet Fred or downing huge-ass burritos from the Well-Dressed Burrito. On jogging days, we’d change at our various pricey gyms on M or L Streets (our gym being the same one at which, coincidentally, George Stephanopoulos was known as an asshat line-cutter on the tread mill), and then meet up at a corner and head down toward the National Mall. There’s nothing like circling the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial on your lunch break, especially in the Spring. Sometimes we’d cross over the memorial bridge to Arlington Cemetery. Good times.
Once, and I’m not sure if I’ve told this story, we were jogging around the White House. This was back during Clinton’s administration. Most people in town knew that the prez liked to jog (of course, half the time, it was into a McDonald’s for a double cheeseburger). So, I jogged up to a security guard and asked if we could jog with the prez if we showed up in the morning. He advised us to forget about that idea immediately. So, I never got to jog with the prez. But, in this imaginary dating scenario, I did find myself back in D.C., jogging around the White House once again.
Ever since GW declared a war against some woman named “Tera,” there had been major changes afoot vis-a-vis White House security. They’ve got that no-fly-zone all coordinated now, and concrete barricades line the whole of Pennsylvania Avenue, one of which (the barricades) I tripped over while jogging.
I’m nursing a nasty knee scrape when I hear a concerned passerby ask, “Are you hurt?”
I don’t look up at first, but the tone of her voice is comforting. Still grimacing, I stand up again. “My knee’ll recover, I think, but these New Balance runners, I’m afraid …” I glance up at her; it’s Condoleezza Rice.
“That’s going to need some attention,” she says.
“No, really, Ms. Rice. I’m sure a little Bactine or something …”
She laughs. “Not your knee.”
At first, I’m confused, but I walk with her for several blocks (toward the capitol) and it quickly becomes apparent we’re heading somewhere specific.
In no time, we’re ascending the grand staircase to the Supreme Court building. Wide-eyed tourists, many the capital city’s ubiquitous Japanese with the obligatory high-end cameras in hand, quickly snap off photos of Condi as we bypass the line and enter through a special side entrance. No one looks twice at me, the unknown, nonfamous boyfriend on the red carpet to some academy award-nominated actress.
Always the diplomat, she smiles cordially to the Japanese. It’s as we’re passing through the metal detector that she first takes my hand. I feel a small electric charge and briefly wonder if it’s a security scan or just my own fascination with our nation’s only attractive Secretary of State (apologies to Madeline Albright, but I just wasn’t that into you ).
“The Supreme Court. That’s where we’re going?” I ask.
“To the highest court in the land,” she replies, leading me toward a staircase. She releases my hand, removes her shoes, giddily shouts, “try to keep up!” and then runs up the first set of stairs. So, I go with it, chasing after her like a schoolboy. When we reach the fourth floor, she bounds through a set of double doors into an enormous basketball court.
Out of breath, I laugh, “the highest court, eh?”
“It’s an old joke,” she says. “Wait here.”
She runs off into a locker room and I have time to mill around. I even begin to play a game of “HORSE” with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but Condi returns toting a shoebox before we get very far into it, Ginsburg about to score her first letter against me with a tricky “over the backboard” granny shot that only an experienced Supreme Court justice could pull off.
“If you don’t mind,” Condi says to Ginsburg, simultaneously beckoning me to follow her back down the stairs. I notice she’s also changed into sneakers.
“Raincheck?” I say to Ruth Bader, shrugging. The old woman smiles and nods enthusiastically.
Later, back at Condi’s pad, she asks if I’m attracted to her. Well, she sort of asks. More accurately, she forms her interrogative as a statement. “You’re attracted to me,” she states for the record, as though I have no say in the matter. Then it gets weird. See, I’m not attracted to her, but also don’t want to be mean, so I deflect. “Look, Ms. Rice —”
“Please, call me Condi.”
“Condi … look, I appreciated the new shoes from your personal secret stock hidden in the Supreme Court building, even though I’m not entirely sure why you’d have a pair of brand new New Balance runners in a men’s size 10 handy (model MR1061 in Silver/Blue). And, I loved that sprint from the capitol to the Lincoln memorial, and the cool-down by the reflecting pool. And — ”
“ — and you’re here,” she interrupts, “which means, on some level, you’re attracted to me.”
My mind turns somersaults. Oddly, you see, it’s true; I can’t deny being attracted to Condoleezza, even though my father believes she’s a warmongering banshee and refers to her routinely as “kinda sleazy.” Also, she’s at least 15 years my senior, which is really pushing the limits for my range of potential imaginary dates. Yet, she is smart, stylish, and a talented pianist.
“Is that a Bosendorfer?” I ask, again avoiding the issue.
She pats the bench, asking me to join her at the keyboard (a Steinway, it turns out). She plunks the opening notes of Heart & Soul, kind of like that scene from Big except completely different in subtext because, in Big, this is the scene during which the protagonist, a 30-something oaf with the mind of a 12-year old, hits it off with a much older famous executive; whereas … okay, maybe it is more similar than I initially thought.
So, we play a little Heart & Soul, a little Brahms, even a little Joplin (which Dr. Rice doesn’t like as much as I do, but she nonetheless finds my interest in early African American composers refreshing).
I hate to be anticlimactic, but the imaginary date pretty much ends there. We part friends, though. Sorry, it’s not you, Condi; it’s me.
Jim Dee maintains his personal blog, “Hawthorne Crow,” and a web design blog called “Web Designer | Web Developer Magazine.” He’s also contributes to various Medium.com publications. You can reach him at: Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com. Photo atop piece is adapted from “082912_CondoleezzaRice_002” by PBS NewsHour (Flickr, Creative Commons). Please 👏 👏 👏 for this article if you liked it.