If this is Thursday, it must be Richmond. I’m like a politician now, scheduled to the minute by other people. Not to excuse Al Gore, but I can understand how he could end up at a Buddhist temple and not know what he was doing there. When I’m not on the radio, I’m heading to a TV studio, trying to remember if the show is waist-up (at a table/desk) or full-frontal (chairs). Full-frontal necessitates thought about what to wear on your bottom half and, if you decide on a skirt, often requires pantyhose. I noticed this week that big-city anchors solve the stocking problem by wearing bronzing gel topped with glitter on their legs. I’m not going there.
Capital Gang, the show I do weekly, is a half-body show, so my top-half wardrobe is a lot better than my bottom-half one, although many viewers would dispute this (that my tops are decent, that is). I dislike shopping so much that, despite my desire to be a good mother, Courtney can count on two hands the number of times I actually went shopping with her. This is part of the reason I sent her to a school that required uniforms. I kept meaning to go shopping this week, to supplement my one complete, TV-appearance-worthy outfit, but I never did. Now I’m calculating how many shows I can wear the same thing on: Counting Tim Russert today, I’ll have done three shows in one suit. (And boy, do I count Tim. My Irish Catholic journalist friends have really come through for me; I’ll also be appearing on The Chris Matthews Show this Sunday.) I’m going to be in some mismatched outfits for the four shows and one speech that remain this week, unless I happen to pass by a store.
Too bad they don’t sell clothes at Giant supermarkets. I’ve been in contact with them, trying to nail down a job for my brother Jimmy. He worked at the Mechanicsburg Naval Depot for 25 years until it downsized two years ago. Despite diligently searching for a new job, he’s only worked for a few months since, in a temporary position at a Salvation Army thrift store. We’ve been waiting to hear about a bagging job at Giant for months. The story in the New York Times Magazine a few weeks ago, about formerly high-flying professionals reduced to working at the Gap, was heart-wrenching for me to read. Jimmy searches for explanations as to why he hasn’t been called: He thinks it might be because they don’t have an apron or jacket in his size.
Now that , I want to upgrade my “Diary” and talk about the issues of the day. Dick Cheney running again? Is the Pope Catholic? Maybe it doesn’t matter whether those weapons of mass destruction are ever found. Evil—some of it anyway—is gone. Bush could land on the carrier twice, and I wouldn’t whine. Speaking of whining about that, isn’t Sen. Robert Byrd himself the king of government spending and cost overruns? He’s paved over West Virginia and gotten every federal building to move there. It’s not for him to complain about the marginal cost of Bush going out to meet the carrier as opposed to waiting on shore.
Enough of the high road—how about that Bill Bennett? He is to Washington, D.C., as Laci Peterson is to California. The story has legs. I’m fond of Bennett’s wife, Elayne, who (along with Alma Powell) founded and runs “Best Friends,” an organization that raises money for programs to engage girls in after-school activities so they are less likely to engage in after-school sex. Along with Tim Russert, Chris and Kathy Matthews, Bill O’Reilly, and Colin Powell, I compete in a “Name That Tune” skit at their annual “Rock ’n’ Roll Night.” (And one year, I won: Elvis’ parents? Vernon and Gladys Presley.) It’s not every benefit in Washington where you get to dance with the secretary of state. I’ve always thought that being married to Elayne is what kept Bill from being the sum of his virtue-mongering. When, about Day 3 of the story, Bennett said he wouldn’t be gambling any more, dropping the guise that it was an extension of church bingo, I knew Elayne had finally gotten to him. To my mind, gambling as practiced by Bennett was sad—no James Bond in a tux at the baccarat table but solitary at the slots in the middle of the night—but victimless, as Bennett said. I would rather he continue gambling and give up hectoring the rest of us for our weaknesses.
In a few minutes, I’m taking the train to Richmond to speak to the Junior League. In my personal Homeland Security System, planes are the safest way to travel—my teeny-tiny sewing scissors were confiscated on the shuttle Monday—then trains that don’t go through tunnels, and, lastly, my car, a 1992 VW Golf held together by duct tape. (I’d like to get the sunroof repaired, but it would cost more than the car is worth.) I’m not a very good driver. As the DMV is aware, my inability to produce a utility bill is not my only problem. I also have a camera-caught speeding ticket for going 29 mph in a 25-mph zone. Learned something new that time: When the limit isn’t posted, it’s 25 mph.
But enough of that. This is my lucky week. Yesterday, for the second time this week, I met Courtney and her friend Kristin for lunch. I’m trying to lose a few pounds left over from last summer’s Margarita-and-coffee-ice-cream diet. What’s holding me back is that every time I get hungry, I think I’ve been dieting successfully, and so I eat with abandon at the next meal. That Black Russian hot-fudge banana split you see in the picture is the last hot-fudge banana split I’m having. Well, this week anyway.