There I was. Palms sweaty, heart beating a little faster than normal, and the constant reminder to myself to use my inside voice. I was not just anywhere. I was in the White House.
Wait, back up. How did I get there? It started a few weeks ago when I got an email from Joe: Can we treat you to lunch on the 15th at the White House Mess? Why, I asked. Um, because it's your birthday and you're turning 30 and it's the White House so you don't ask why. Stage 1: disbelief.
Then came Stage 2: bragging. Everyone that I knew would actually care found out that I was going to the White House. And that I might see someone famous.
Stage 3: anxiety. What does one wear to lunch at the White House? What if I talk to loudly? What if I run into someone famous but I can't remember who they are and I just stare? Surely they're used to people staring.
Stage 4: chaos. I'm supposed to be there in 30 minutes. How do I even get IN to the White House? Which entrance? Will it take long? What if I walk in the wrong door? What if I get tackled by the secret service? Joe's going to be REALLY embarrassed.
Stage 5: relief. Sarah's going to pick me up on the way. If anything goes wrong I blame it on her.
Stage 6: starstruck. So here we are again. Palms sweaty, heart beating faster. David Axelrod just walked by. There's wood paneling everywhere, flowers on every desk. Digital pictures of Obama yawning in the garden. And everyone is so quiet. Must use inside voice. Must use inside voice.
Stage 7: delight. The food. It was good. Sarah got the seared tuna salad. Joe and I got the jerk crusted sea bass. They were served on the biggest plates I'd ever seen, the sea bass perched lightly on top of a bed of lemon scented rice with some baby zucchini on the side. Joe had the good sense to order chocolate decadence for dessert, with vanilla ice cream. Aside from Joe's slight embarrassment that Sarah and I added a little lavender sugar that she gave me to the dessert, I managed to make it through lunch without any major incident. The room was smaller than I imagined, adding to the appeal of the place. Perfect to bump into a high level white house advisor. Only Special Assistants and above have "privileges" there, you know.
(The menu of the day and a box of presidential M&M's)