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  • A few years back my mother and I visited my older brother in West Virginia, and we had a couple extra days, so we went to Washington DC for some sight-seeing. We decided to get a room at the Watergate Hotel, just to say we did. Most famous for the Watergate scandal of 1972, when burglars working for the Nixon re-election campaign broke into the Democratic Party’s office, the Watergate complex consists of a hotel and apartments as well as offices. Many politicians and political big shots make the Watergate their second home, where they live when they are in DC. A cabbie we had leaving one night said Bob Dole was a good tipper, but Larry King was cheap. I took this picture from our hotel room window. The hotel itself was not that big of a deal, a faded 60s-70s star.

    But my real brush with greatness was one morning when I made my way to the basement gym to check it out and get some exercise. I sat on a stationary bike and start pedaling, and soon this very old lady with pinkish hair in a blue sweat suit got on a bike near me. I didn’t pay any attention at first, until I looked over and realized it was Sandra Day O’Connor, the Supreme Court Justice. I’m no hick; this was certainly not the first famous person I had been near, so I acted non-pulsed and left her alone. But still I could not totally relax, and just let my eyes wander around the room as I pedaled. When I got off my bike and started on the machines, I was still so hyper-aware of her existence just a few feet over.

    I was surprised by how old she looked, and she was rather small. As I remember this event in my head right now, I picture her as kind-of an Oompa-Loopa from Wilie Wonka. I know that may sound disrespectful, but I realized years ago that my memories of real life experiences have become completely enmeshed with memories of movies and TV shows I’ve seen. She worked up a very good sweat on the bikes, then left.
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