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November 6, 2016 / thackersam

Brush With Weiner

My brushes with Weiner have nothing to do with sexting. I’m not his speed. But then, he’s not mine either. Nor do they have anything to do with the accompanying photo that is an actual Avon product and serves as an adequate substitute for a picture of the former Congressman.

I didn’t know him from a hole in the wall when he came to the geriatric center, a large complex of apartments, nursing home, adult day health care, where I worked. He and some other local politicians were there in the large auditorium to speak to the community. Many were residents and many came from the neighborhood, a largely Spanish-speaking area of northern Manhattan. I had met Scott Stringer before at a charitable event, and he was gracious as ever. This little pipsqueak guy, who also showed up, was kind of rude. But I’ll tell you, when he spoke, he came across as smart and passionate. He even got an open guffaw from one of the male residents and titters from others when he started a sentence with “I may not look like much…” He seemed to like the response. He then, quite abruptly mind you, shushed someone in the audience then quickly acknowledged – “oh, you’re translating,” before he moved on without apology. Eyes rolled. He was a bright, young politician, obviously ambitious, and ringing asshole.

Anthony Weiner was not the only visitor to the center that made an impression on me. My position in the marketing department was as publications coordinator, and my officemate was the community coordinator. She hadn’t told me she was expecting a visitor on this particular day, but maybe she only just found out after I had gone off to the cafeteria to get my lunch, that I would eat at my desk. When I got back, she wasn’t there, and as I was busy eating my messy and yummy wings, the director of security was standing at the door calling my officemate’s name. I didn’t know where she was, I told her. “I have Mrs. Cuomo here to go on a tour,” said the director. And there stood, dressed in beige and white, the lovely Matilda Cuomo. She was out campaigning for her son, who was running for Attorney General of New York State at the time. I quickly tried to wipe the sauce from my hands as she apologized for interrupting my lunch, and came towards me with her outstretched hand after I told her who I was. I started to extend my hand that we both realized was in no condition for a handshake.  We each er’d and uh’d until I came up with a brilliant idea. “Let’s shake elbows, like in Young Frankenstein,” I said. And so we did. Yes, I shook elbows with the former first lady of my state, and mother to our current governor.

My second encounter with the not so lovely Anthony Weiner came at my next job at Queensborough Community College at the commencement ceremony that year. I met lots of local politicians as events and activities attracted them to the culturally diverse community and sprawling grounds. Many were helpful in getting the new Holocaust Center built, like the Weprin brothers, and John Liu came and read a story at a performance for children at the college’s theater. They were always showing up for something. And of course, they would show up for the commencement ceremony, which this particular year was held outdoors in weather that was cooperating nicely. They showed up early for socializing and robing, and then would lead the hundreds of graduating students to the rows and rows of metal folding chairs that faced the tiered stage where the politicians would sit with the other dignitaries, which included the school VPs and my boss, who was merely a department director.

My job at the ceremony was to stay by the front gate to greet the late politicians. We had hoped that our junior senator Hillary Clinton would show up, but understood that our State Senators had a lot of ground to cover during this time of year. I wound up on the phone with our senior senator Chuck Schumer’s assistant who told me that Senator was on his way, but would be late, and there was of course the chance that there would be a last minute diversion. Then I see Councilman David Weprin approaching. I meet him in the parking lot used for the dignitaries, which is the school’s bus stop, but because of the event, the buses were re-routed that day. I handed him his robe that I had piled on top of the clipboard and whatever else I was holding, but when he put it on, the zipper would not go up. I tried to help him, but it was stuck, and I told him as much, a couple of times, thinking – okay, you’re late, you got the robe that doesn’t zip, just go on stage, before I realized he was not going to budge without being zipped. So, I shoved the stuff I was holding into his arms and kneeled down to get a better angle on it. Yes, it worked, but in the nick of time as the position I was in, kneeling on the ground before this man, this local politician, with my face to his crotch, pulling up his zipper. I sent him on his merry way before a car pulled into the lot.

I’m still waiting to hear back about Senator Schumer, when a suited young man approaches me and tell me to expect Congressman Weiner. Hmmm. Not on my list, but hey, a congressman. Another car pulls up and out steps that scrawny guy, the guy that rang asshole, from my last job. He refused a robe so I escorted him to the stage and pointed him to an empty seat on the second tier. That one empty seat in the front tier? Well that was reserved for the Senator of course. But that little Weiner, which is exactly what I was thinking, he walked right to the seat in the front row as I watched him from the side of the stage defiantly sit in the front row and turn to me with a look that read, “What are you going to do about it.” Nothing. I couldn’t do a damn things about it. He spoke, he was smart and passionate, because, I believe he is. But I could tell he was just a big jerk from these brief encounters. My opinion was subsequently confirmed as I would read about his inability to hold on to staff members as he was too difficult to work with. All that other stuff was yet to come.

Councilman Weprin, however, with whom I had just formed a relationship in the parking lot, apparently needed to leave shortly after his speech. When my boss, who was on stage, and I compared notes afterward, she then understood what she had seen from there. Our VP, who was seated next to the Councilman, was fussing with his robe, as was he, until finally, he tore it off over his head and threw it on his seat and stormed off. I, still at my post at the front gate, just hearing that Chuck Schumer was called away and couldn’t make it, saw David Weprin coming down toward the gate, walking quickly in his light-colored summer suit. I waved at him as he left, and he smiled and waved back. I guess the frustration he had over his faulty robe that caused him to make a bit of a scene on the stage in front of the entire graduating class, dissipated as he saw me, which I’m sure brought back the fond memories from the parking lot. Weiner had long gone. Made his speech and left. There was no waving between us, and I knew there never would be.

BTW – On a personal note, props to Cousin Bratty for being true to herself, and to my friend from Hoot ‘n Holler for being true-blue.

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