Yesterday I had one of the most memorable experiences of my life: I visited the Obama’s at THE WHITE HOUSE. To be sure this was not my first time meeting the Obama’s ( I meet them during the CBCF weekend a few years ago) but it was my first time being inside the People’s House. 🙂
The trip to the Obama’s actually begin around 4p.m. yesterday. I was torn between rushing to get dressed and watching THE BIG O’s (Oprah) exclusive on the life a modern-day geisha and nuns. After I peeled my self away from the tv, packed a just-in-case-I- get-stuck-in-the-snow bag and a hurry-up-and wait bag ( you always need one of these when you’re the infamous person at the tv taping), I tucked my tuxedo pants in to my winter boots and ventured out in the historic SNOWPOCALYSPE 2010. Most of the streets were fairly clean but since the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) is home to probably some of the worst drivers in America, you can imagine the driving experience was…well… A PAIN!
After 40 or so minutes of gushing through snow and slush and awful driving, I arrived at Howard U, parked the car, and boarded the important looking Black SUV. ( I’ve come to associate Black SUVs with important people :Oprah, Senator Obama, Colin Powell and tons of others .) Since I was the first singer there, I was subject to Dr. Norris’ musing about this and that and then his rants about the other late singers and then his hilarity about fat people, senile students, and just “poe-dunk” inefficiencies in general. After about 10 mins the other singers arrived and we were on our way… off to the Obamas. ( I should mention that our driver, who said very little except to answer his phone, galloped through the snowy DC streets as if there was not 3 inches of snow and ice on the ground.)
…and like Presto we were at the East Gate… and still at the East Gate… and still at the EAst GAte and then parked at the East Gate. Apparently, several of the singers had not been cleared including our manager, Brandon who coördinatedour being there.
Even with all the checking id’s though, I manage to help Amber (a tall, lacrosse playing blondie who didn’t bring or couldn’t find her state issued Id) evade the entire security check process. Because she was still shuffling through her duffel bag purse thingy after the guard had walked away with the other ids, it was clear that she hadn’t presented her’s. ” stop looking, amber. if he comes back and says something then look for it. If not, just play it cool. It’ll only be an issue if you make it one” ( I’ve been to enough of these ritzy sorta affairs to know that once the “official” people are distracted, unless they are moving very slowly and bring very attentive, they probably wont notice something as minor as one choir lady who didn’t have an id… even with a huge sign that says 100% id check. )
After waiting at the gate for about 15mins or so, the guard asked those who had been cleared to proceed inside, which required that I moved into the “under- surveillance SUV” with the other singers who had not been cleared. BOMBER! Here I am at the WHITE HOUSE, surrounded with a sea of wet looking cotton, and stuck at the gate. Thanks God.
So we waited… and waited.. and waited… During the lulls and moments of awkward 7-guys -stuck-in-a-car silence, I commenced to asking BOB, the driver all sorts of question. He was happy to answer IN DETAIL, pausing for Brandon to speak to White House staffers on the phone when necessary and amazingly picking up at precisely the place where he left off… almost as though there had not been a 5 minute pause. (Everyone noticed and laughed in amazement when this happened. Bob was clueless). Bob was at least 60 years old and had taken up driving 16 years ago after he retired from the Department of Defense. It was clear that he enjoyed driving as much as I enjoyed being driven. ( This is why Bob has been tapped as the official driver of the 2021 freshmen Senator from Natchez,Mississippi. Thanks Bob) Bob gave us details about the White House Party Crashers and how they were able to get in. He talked about TSA and how they only wear the mask of security to make us feel safe. He asked bizarre questions about street cleaning and even coined the phrase ( via his girlfriend) that anything that doesn’t work or works poorly is because: “IT’s the Government”. GENUIS!
After a while, Leon, one of the other singers, needed to use the watering hole and Bob kindly drove us up to the W Hotel, where we ran into the Blind Boys of Alabama and Smokey Robinson. Our field trip must have signaled to the White House security that the wait was getting a bit out of hand because no sooner than the last of our gang was returning to the car, we got word that we had all been cleared. FInally. ( Some lady at the hotel with a clipboard and white ear cord thingy who worked for the White House or WETA was attempting to ask me some question about something but after Brandon gave me the thumbs on being our clearance, I just kinda walked away…sorry ma’am.)
So back in the car, back to the gate, guards hands us our id, stop at the bomb sniffing dog tent, move to another gate (the folks at this gate clearly just needed something to do because their being at this.gate was POINTLESS!), gates open and finally we arrive at the EAst appointment gate. more security, show id’s, through the magnetometer.and finally in… ( i should mention that despite all this Amber, the tall, lacrosse playing blondie who didnt bring or couldn’t find her state issued Id, got in and Micah Robinson’s Faygo Ginger Ail that he was told he couldnt bring in, all made it in.)
.. to be continued….
Signed ~The Guy in the Red Fitted