Why my life is awesome
We head to the first event. The drivers are told to stay with the cars, but the Clintons’ speeches can be heard outside thanks to outdoor speakers. One of Chelsea’s staffers asks if I’m from the area and instructs me to brainstorm places we can go for lunch. An hour later, we’re starting the cars again and heading to the second location. I start my car and former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan hops into the passenger seat. “Hi, I’m Joe Kernan.” I shake his hand. “I know! It’s an honor to have you in my car!” Since he is the former mayor of South Bend, I ask him where I should take Chelsea for lunch and he suggests the South Bend Chocolate Cafe. Duh, why didn’t I think of that? Gov. Kernan rolls down the window to wave and shake hands with people in the street. He’s a wonderful, friendly man and it’s a damn shame he didn’t get a full term in office. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Hoosier politics, Gov. Kernan was Lt. Governor for Gov. Frank O’Bannon who later died in office. Gov. Kernan took over but did not win in the following election.)
At the second event, I broke from the motorcade. Again, I stayed with the car but could hear the speeches through outdoor speakers. Soon, Secret Service agents instruct me to pull up to get Chelsea. Cue my nerves. She hops in the backseat with one staffer and her second staffer hops into the passenger seat. We’re on a tight schedule, so I quickly head to the Chocolate Cafe. I dropped them off and waited, again, with the car. After she gets her coffee and salad and apparently wards off the local gawkers, I take them to the airport. On the way there, Chelsea asks me about the college community in South Bend and I am still surprised by how much she knows about the area. I told her I attend the sister school of Notre Dame and she said, “Oh, Saint Mary’s?” She and her staffer discuss the possibility of an appearance at Saint Mary’s and Chelsea asks, “Are we going to go to Holy Cross at all?” Holy Cross is the even smaller school next door, a former junior college. Very impressive, Chels. She also informs the car that Notre Dame women’s basketball team is still in the tournament. She certainly does her research. When we arrive at the airport, she hands me a handful of tulips that a little girl gave her and says, “These are for you. Thanks for letting us hijack you for the day. We’ll see you Wednesday.”
Wednesday arrives. I meet up with Sarita, another intern, at the airport to wait for Chelsea and Sean Astin (better known as Rudy in Rudy or Samwise in Lord of the Rings). He’s joined her on a college tour. When they arrive, Sean says to Sarita and me, “Welcome to South Bend!” I reply, “Hey, isn’t that our line?” He’s a great person, very warm and likeable. Chelsea hops in my car and I welcome her back. She thanks me and adds, “I like your brown dress!” It’s my new favorite dress. Soon enough, we’re on the road again headed to Notre Dame. We pull up to Legends, a restaurant/club on campus and security lets us in the back. Chelsea stops to greet a small group of people waiting outside the back door. She and Sean head in and Sarita and I turn the cars around. We bypass the line outside and meet up with SMC media relations and the local newspaper. Sarita and I get interviewed for the paper as the photographer discreetly took our photo. I find The Beau Named Joe in the audience and chitchat before the presentation begins. Soon Sean and Chelsea take the stage and take informed, intelligent questions from the audience (unlike Butler University).
Both Sean and Chelsea are engaging speakers and truly know how to relate to a young audience. The things Chelsea said definitely solidified my intention to vote for her mother in the May primary. I love the Clinton family.
When a staffer announces, “Last question,” Sarita and I head out the back door to start the cars. Sarita really wanted a picture but everyone was hurried into the vehicles. She took Sean to his in-laws in a nearby town while I took Chelsea and staffers back to the airport. This means I didn’t get a picture with Sean. Bummer. On the road, Chelsea asks her staff how they think the event went and they sorted some things out. She spent the rest of the time checking the headlines on her Blackberry and commenting on the things she was reading. When we pulled up to the terminal I asked, “Chelsea, would I be overstepping my boundaries if I asked for a photo?” “Oh! Not at all!” She and her staff thanked me again and said they’d be seeing me soon. Sounds like another trip to South Bend is already in the works and, hopefully, I’ll be called to drive again.
What I loved about Chelsea is she’s legitimately concerned about the state of our country and passionate about getting on course to make it better. She’s eloquent, absolutely wonderful, and so down-to-earth. I’m impressed that she turned out so “normal” after having grown up in the White House. I think it truly speaks volumes about her parents and upbringing. Speaking of her mother, rumor has it she’ll be here on Friday. Badass.
It’s official, friends, I no longer want Mandy Moore to be my BFF. I want Chelsea Clinton to be my BFF. We’re already on first-name basis!