Who Wants To Be Governor of Virginia?
In the mid-1990s an editor at The Virginian-Pilot decided to toss Dave Addis and me together on Sundays for a column called He Said/She Said. It was the best fun I ever had in journalism. Dave is a witty, natural writer and I’m still in awe of his talent. Persuaded my old partner to come back for one more after he left a comment on the website Thursday saying he was ready to return to Virginia to save us from our lousy leaders.
Serene as retired life is down here, across the harbor from Charleston, I’ve been watching the news and find myself regretting having left Virginia.
Y’see, I never once appeared in blackface and always kept my hands to myself with the ladies — I merely groveled and begged, “Pretty, pretty please?” — but I now realize that if I’d stayed in Virginia, I’d be maybe 4th or 5th in line to be governor. I could be just steps away from ... The Mansion!
The only embarrassing yearbook photo in my background involves an unspeakable display of bleeding Madras, not blackface. As for the ladies, even my first wife would grudgingly admit that I was hardly a monster. She has yet to leak any claims to the contrary to The Washington Post.
Actually, Kerry, you are the only person in Virginia who could deny my ascent to The Mansion, and it doesn’t involve any groping of your lovely Irish butt. Instead, you have mentioned that you maintain an old copy of an embarrassing unpublished column I’d drafted that was titled, rather regrettably, “Mr. Varnish.” You’ve held it over my head all these years like the proverbial sword dangling from a thread.
My memory is aged, cabernet-hazy. I believe I was struck by an Associated Press wire report of some vengeful jamoke who’d been arrested for coating his wife with varnish while she slept.
As I recall, I rose to the wife’s defense by arguing, rather chivalrously, that retaliation for whatever offense she’d committed called for no more than a light coat of shellac. Any decent married handyman would know that.
You’d deny me the governorship of Virginia for that? Good luck, lady, ‘cause y’all don’t seem to have much luck finding anybody up there whose reputation is any less ... varnished ... than mine.
Not so fast, Mr. Varnish.
Your cabernet-hazy memory is playing tricks on you. Rather than leaping to the defense of the DEAD woman in the AP story, you quipped that most women would benefit from a light coating of marine shellac. You postulated that the victim had some previously undiagnosed allergy to the substance. How could her poor hubby be expected to know about that? It was hilarious.
But you will never get to The Mansion with that gem in my desk.
That’s OK. After careful consideration - a weeks’ worth - I have decided to throw my sports bra into the ring to become the next governor of Virginia.
I can’t find my yearbooks but I’m pretty sure I got the editor of mine to delete that quote some high school smartass had stuck under my picture: A carpenter’s dream. Flat as a board and easy to nail.
And I’m positive I wasn’t in blackface.
I will admit that over the years I sometimes padded my resume - but not as badly as, say, Elizabeth “Wigwam” Warren.
Truth is, I wasn’t all that good of an ice hockey player. During my brief, forgettable career with the Washington Redcoats I was not a standout. Or even a starter. I was picked to play defense on that semi-professional team because I was one of the only girls - yes, that’s what we called ourselves - at tryouts who could skate backwards.
I was slow and excessively worried about my teeth. Had I known about crowns and implants I would have been far more aggressive.
I never exaggerated my academic achievements either, as so many politicians do. I was a reliable C student who was terrified in August of 1984 that the Pilot editor who was rumored to always ask job applicants about their SAT scores would ask for mine.
He never did. I got the job. Hah!
No one ever called me “Coonman.” Or Coonwoman.
In fact, the only nickname I ever had was “Thumper.” That came during a house renovation when workmen got hold of my size 10 running shoes and marveled at their length.
Stay in South Carolina, Mr. Varnish. Thumper’s going to Richmond.