Monday, November 1, 2010

How I Met Rudy Giuliani

“So,” I said to Rudy Giuliani, “….shame about those Yankees, huh, Mr. Mayor?” He just kind of hung his head and said, “It sure is, Susan. It was very painful to watch…”

Yep. Me and Rudy talking about the Yankees….two pals, kicking around some baseball chat.

Okay, maybe that’s the fantasy version.  But I did get to meet Rudy Giuliani this past weekend, at Charlie’s school, down in our nation’s capital. And, since my son is acutely aware that I have a huge crush on “America’s Mayor,” he managed to get the whole family included on the VIP list.

I would now have the chance to meet my hero before he delivered a talk in the school’s large auditorium and I was pumped. Okay, very pumped. Alright, I was a bit hysterical.
Upon learning that I would get a little “face time” with the former mayor and presidential candidate, I went into an uncharacteristic state of nervous excitement.

After all, New Yorkers are accustomed to seeing celebrities and, in my youth, I’d encountered my share (Eric Clapton, Andy Warhol and Ingrid Bergman, among others) Hadn’t I seen Henny Youngman (“Take my wife…please!) often enough to, literally, worry that he was stalking me?

But I never imagined that I would be face to face with the man who’d fearlessly transformed my home town from the crime, filth and graffiti-infested city (accurately depicted in Martin Scorcese’s “Taxi Driver,” in case you don’t believe me)into a place that, for a time, the FBI declared the safest city in America.

And, we’re all aware of his heroic stewardship of a devastated city through the nightmare of 911.  By God, I was going to say thank you to Rudy!
Several days prior, I began preparing for the big moment. I dug out some clothes that were neither jeans nor sweats, began flossing frantically on the off chance there would be a dental inspection, and—most importantly—began formulating what I would say. 
I knew I’d only have a few minutes and wanted to pack much heartfelt eloquence into the small conversational window I would be allowed. And, hell-bent on pointing out that he and I were born but a few blocks apart, I silently and repeatedly rehearsed a coherent statement that I hoped would convey respect and appreciation for his public service. 
It did not go as planned. When Rudy entered, the room (lit brightly enough for us to decipher each other’s genetic codes) grew hushed.

Everyone hung back shyly except for me and one other lunatic who, literally, rushed towards him at the same exact moment. My competitor had much longer legs and reached the mayor first.

My turn followed but I was wearing brand new knee-hi stockings which were cutting off all but a small fraction of blood flow to my brain and I leaned forward too fast and almost fell on him. Righting myself and grinning like a genuine maniac, I launched into what I hoped would be my prepared statement but instead of the words, “I’m from Brooklyn” I heard myself say, “I am Brooklyn.”  

Even though this gaffe horrified me on one level, on another, it made me want to laugh but I have no memory of what happened next. For all I know I might have claimed to be Luke Skywalker’s father but this man has been through a lot worse than enduring  a middle-aged woman who can’t stop talking.

He gripped my hand warmly, smiled and was as gracious and charming as I'd dared imagine he’d be.
Later, a photographer appeared and when I realized that I had not had my picture snapped with the mayor, I galloped back to the line that had subsequently formed to the concern of one security guard who asked Seth and the boys if I was “stable.”

Charlie assured her that I was but that I just really, really love Rudy.  “As long as she doesn’t  tackle him," was the guard’s nervous suggestion.
So, that’s the story of how I met Rudy Giuliani at American University on Charlie’s final Parents Weekend. I will never forget it. Neither will my family. Or campus security.

Maybe Rudy will even remember the woman who, though a little overwrought, truly appreciates the many good things he did for a grateful city.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a San Francisco Giants fan through and through -- bleed orange and black -- but I've always admired Rudy Giuliani for how he transformed New York City. I wish my town could see some of that leadership.