WASHINGTON – The good news/bad news about living and working in the nation’s capital is that friends from out-of-town and neighbors see you as part of the Beltway crowd.
They are either proud of your proximity to the White House and Capitol, or feel you are an out-of-touch elitist.
Living in D.C. also tests your adherence to the truth.
For example, people from Des Moines or Seattle may ask how often you dine at the White House? Or ask about the whirlwind of parties in Georgetown and Cleveland Park … when in fact an evening at Five Guys is what you call a night out.
I have decided that rather than disappoint people (or worse, let them think I am a reclusive dullard), I give them what they want.
Last summer, my daughter and I had dinner at DeCarlo’s in D.C. with TV veteran Roger Mudd and radio talk show host Dianne Rehm. I think it was a birthday party.
I’m not entirely sure because we didn’t actually sit at the same table with them. We were about 20 feet away. But being a long-time listener of hers, and being a very long-time fan of his … I felt a connection, which is why I tell my brother in St. Louis about the evening.
He’s impressed. As well he should be.
I had lunch last fall with Garrison Keeler. It was at the Cafe DeLuxe on Wisconsin Avenue. Again, we didn’t actually sit together, but our eyes met. Maybe he tells folks in St. Paul about having lunch with me. I’m fine with that.
I once bonded, briefly, with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy when I helped push his car out of a snowbank in Georgetown.
A friend and I jogged with President Clinton one Sunday morning at Haines Point. We didn’t actually talk because the Secret Service encouraged us to go in another direction.
The other morning at Starbucks, I am pretty sure I stood behind a well-known NBC anchorwoman. We had a nice chat. As she pointed to my coffee, she asked, “Is that yours?” I said ‘no’ … but somehow I felt (still feel) a sort of bond. Wait till my cousin in Ohio hears about that.
I was once in a room with President Carter and about 10 other people. We didn’t actually talk, but I felt I got to know him. Over the years, the time we spent together, and his thanks for my advice, have grown slightly.
The other day, somebody visiting from Roanoke asked if President Obama has kicked the habit, or does he sometimes sneak a puff?
I looked around, made sure no one else was listening, and said with I hope some authority, “I have never seen him smoke!”
Mike has spent the majority of his life inside the Beltway and has an interesting and humorous perspective that he will share every Wednesday. Mike has spent his career covering the federal government for the Washington Post and now for Federal News Radio.