Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My Failed Assassination

Several years ago, my husband, Flip, and I flew to Portland, Maine, to visit my older daughter. While there, we went to lunch with E and her fiance, B, at a restaurant in nearby Kennebunkport.

E dragged me excitedly by the hand through the restaurant to our table on the deck overlooking many pleasure boats, one of which belonged to ex-President George H.W. Bush. He was at the table next to us with three guys dressed as fishing buddies who were probably Secret Servicemen, having an animated conversation over lunch.

Flip was seated back-to-back with the Elder Mr. Bush. Their chairs were about three inches apart, and I was across from him with a good view of the neighboring table as well.

It was chilly, so I went out to the car to get a sweater for myself and a flannel shirt for Flip. When I returned, I walked around to his side of the table to place the shirt around his shoulders. Flip is over 6'3" , while I am 5'1", so I had to lift my arms high to accomplish this, even though he was seated.

I was also suddenly inside Mr. Bush's personal space as his chair was so close to Flip's. With his peripheral vision, he saw a shape, much too close to him, with raised arms. He snapped his head toward me with a look of absolute horror on his face, quickly noted that I was no threat to him, and went back to his conversation.

In that moment, I realized that for the rest of his life, he would fear assassination. That all ex-Presidents and other public figures must be on guard wherever they go. It was also clear to both of us that if I HAD been there to kill him and willing to die, his Secret Servicemen would not have been able to prevent it.

I do not think that fame is worth the price of losing ones anonymity and peace of mind. When young, we often lust to be cultural icons of some kind, so well-known that people treat us like gods. Whether we hope to accomplish this through music, art, politics, or even modeling, it dangles a shiny lure for so many.

When we stop assuming that famous people are somehow better than the rest of us and that only the most accomplished rise to the top in any field, fame loses its luster. I have always believed that in the political sphere, the most dangerous seek power. Events, both recent and historic, would seem to bear this out, while some of the best minds and hearts of all time have not become well-known at all.


But until I scared George Bush senseless over lobster, I never realized that fame is also a trap from which there is no exit short of death. John Lennon, Anwar Sadat, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mohandas Ghandi, the list is endless.

Fame is not all it's cracked up to be.

29 comments:

thethinker said...

I'd never want to be famous. Way too much pressure, and as you noted with your entry, you lose out on a few of the comforts us normal people have just by being who we are. I'd never trade the anonymity I now enjoy for the paranoia that would inevitably come with fame.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Thinker,

We are totally on the same page about this. Even without fear of being murdered, losing ones ability to wander the world freely would be too great a sacrifice for me.

Pickled Olives said...

I think it would be worse to have anonimity with a paranoid complex that thinks people are out to get you.

I see your point and I never really thought about it. But I too wouldn't want that kind of life. Yo gotta figure, he even needs to be concerned about the people he hires. How do the famous live long without having a heart attack from the stress?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Olives,

I had to smile at your suggestion that being an anonymous paranoid would be even worse.

I wonder, too, how they manage the stress when everybody is suspect.

Nicole said...

It would be fun for a week or 2, but then I would want to be normal again. It would NOT be worth being freaked out at any sudden close movements. FOR SURE!

An explosive said...

Considering all the celebrity's available today you would think differently. Yet... one wonders... well I do... were all these celebrity's really lonely people seeking to no longer be lonely? Hmmm... I agree... I love being able to wander the world un noticed at times but I imagine the paycheck and the perks make it tolerable... well at least a smidge. It's the death warrant I have the biggest problem with. That's just horrific! ~M

Lex said...

I agree that it is not all it's cracked up to be. I would be content with one of the famed one's bank account, but short of that, you can have it.

I was talking to a friend just this week about why he thought celebrity marriages fail...almost always. I think you've hit on something with a lack of peace of mind that comes, at least in part, with anonymity.

I don't know too many famous people, but I know quite a few great ones. You're a star in your own right.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Nicole,

It would be hard on the nerves for sure.

My heart,

The paychecks and other percs are the main attraction for most people. But they don't realize all that they would have to give up. Kind of like a pact with the devil.

Lex,

I think most celebrity marriages fail because of clashing egos. Since both are "stars," they insist on prevailing in all things, and competition rather than cooperation becomes the rule.

When two people commit to each other, they create a third entity, the marriage. Both parties must agree to put the marriage above their individual wills, or it will fail.

Thank you for always saying such lovely things to me!! I am grateful.

Oh, The Joys said...

Remind me not to sit behind YOU! (Kidding!)

Cece said...

Its as if any Tom, Dick or William Hung can become a celebrity at any given moment. It doesn't even seem special any more.


Hmm, do Ex-President's sign autographs?

Michael C said...

Very interesting story. I remember going through Kennenbunkport a few years ago and wondering where the Bushes lived. You have a great point about fame.

I got to meet Ronald Reagan in his office in L.A. in 1997. After I passed a background check, I got to go up and meet him. Of course when I got off the elevator at his floor, I was greeted immediately by one of his secret service agents. Very surreal...

Stewart Sternberg said...

I sometimes sit and ponder what makes a person run for the presidency. Why would anyone want to bring that pressure to bear on their shoulders? And you are right, after the maximum of eight years, you are still the president,still within the cocooon. Still the target.

I remember when the World Trade Center was bombed, G.W. Bush was everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Even at Yankee Stadium. Cheney? Hiding out in an undisclosed location. Made me wonder who was really the expendable one.

Your story is a fascinating one there, Ms. Frisco. Fascinating.

mist1 said...

Fame was a great show.

velvet girl said...

I've never desired fame, but I always thought that people like ex-presidents have a really bum deal. Imagine having to have a bevy of secret service folks around you at all times for the rest of your life. It would be enough to make me want to scream.

But then again, with flannel wielding potential assassins on the loose, perhaps it's for the best. ;)

-velvet

Le Nightowl said...

An eye-catching post title :)
Quite an interesting & thought-provoking little adventure.
The lust for power is strongly ingrained in political personalities, I guess the collateral effects are the price they have to pay for this.
Marie

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Joys,

You should probably take that up with your Secret Service people.

Cece,

I didn't ask for his autograph. He saw my face. I had to kill him.

Michael,

Maine is beautiful. The water is so cold that falling off a sailboat could be fatal.

You should write a post about meeting Reagan. It sounds like an interesting story.

Stewart,

I think it takes a special kind of overweaning ego to run for President.

Ms. Frisco? I'm from New York, although I live in SF. I grew fond of Giulliani in the aftermath of 9-11.

Mist,

Uh huh. Cool shoes.

Velvet,

I think you nailed it. Flannel-wielding potential assassins on the loose can really mess up your afternoon.

Marie,

I agree completely. Everything is a trade-off, even for the rich and famous.

Open Grove Claudia said...

You and George Michael have a theme here....

Of course, here in Denver one of our NFL football players (24 years old) was killed over New Years for absolutely no reason, except fame. It's amazing to think of.

meno said...

It is my opinion that anyone who wants to be president should not be allowed to be president. I mean, what is wrong with them that they would WANT to have a life like that?
Here's to anonimity.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Claudia,

I hadn't heaerd about that. It's terrible. Nobody should die at 24.

Meno,

"If drafted, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve." There you go! Eliminate everyone who wants to be President and make someone else do it.

I wonder if this will fly.

Lee said...

Lord, I say and do the stupidest things ALL the time. If there were reporters around me recording my every word, I would probably look as bad as Brittney or Dan Quayle. But then again, I'm smart enough not to go after a lifestyle like that.

Lex said...

This is random, but I love your well-worded title. Don't you hate when the media refer to failed assassination attempts? If it's a failed attempt, wouldn't it be a success?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Lee,

I'm not very good at covering my tracks either. Luckily, I'm not famous, so the one most offended by some of the things I do is usually me.

Lex,

Depends on your point of view. If you're the would-be target, the assassin's failure is your success. And vice versa.

Flip thinks I'll be under surveillance because of the title of this post. I would hope they have more likely prospects to snoop on.

Liz said...

You have had some pretty incredible experiences in your life. Wowzer!

You know, I think we probably all want to be a little bit famous deep down inside. We can't help it. Our society has trained us well.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Liz,

You're so right. We want to be famous without losing any of our freedom, though.

Yes, I do seem to attract (or notice) strange experiences. Today I was in line at the Post Office behind a Japanese transvestite. I'd love to turn it into a post, but that's all there is, really. Except that when (s)he finished a rather loud cell phone conversation, (s)he said "Hai, hai, arigato" and I learned that "arigato" is accented on the last syllable, not the penultimate one, as I'd thought.

Odat said...

Thank you for bringing this to our attention...Great post!
Peace

Anonymous said...

That's a pretty amazing story. I'm surprised you weren't wrestled to the ground by secret service agents.

Crankster again!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Odat,

Thank you, Lovely One!

Crankster,

I was surprised, too. They were obviously slackers.

I am not Star Jones said...

excellent points about fame and its perils -- needs to be emailed to the millions still flocking to American Idol.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

You Are Not Star Jones,

Now that I do not get. Amateur Nite at the local Kiwanis Club is not my idea of a good time.