A famous alumnus is visiting the university. I got an invitation several days ago to a small, socially distanced, masked, focus group. It was to be early on a Saturday morning - so, why not? I was excited to see her - I’m a fan.
We were a diverse group of about 20 (covid tested before admittance) students and I was in the back row. Seating was offset so everyone could see everything perfectly. I craned and swiveled, when her entourage came into the room. Then, there she was - I’m sure I was grinning ear to ear (behind my mask), we clapped, excitedly. She wore a navy business suit. A jacket over a black blouse with slacks and black shoes.
She gave a talk, about the challenges America faces. On YouTube, her speech-giving voice always seemed artificial, cold, harsh and brittle. Here, she was low-key, motherly, whip smart, personable and humorous - everything I had hoped for.
Then there was a question and answer session (NOT easy questions - did I mention whip smart?) followed by a no touching reception line. And ***, she’s a foot away. She seemed a lacquered and corrected sort of person - professional - I guess you’d say.
Everyone was gently elbow bumping with her, so I did too. You’d say your name and class. “Anais Vionet, freshman,” I said. I wanted to say “I’m a BIG fan” but I thought I might come off as either fawning or even worse someone bent on wasting her time.
We both smiled, me behind my mask and I bobbed a goodbye nod, but as I went to step away she said, “How’s your Grandmother?” I was shocked but I managed to say, “She’s fine, thank you.” To which she replied, “Please tell her I said hello.” I just nodded, “yes” as a sort of “I will,” and stepped away.
I glanced around, there was no handler by her side and she wasn’t wearing an earpiece - how she knew me I have no idea - but now I think she’s considering a run in 2024. My grandmère would be a whale of a donor.
What a bizarre encounter.