I regret to say that the weekend mail did not contain my invitation to the Obama family’s White House seder. As the weekend’s NYT story points out, you don’t have to be Jewish to love the springtime tradition of a long ritual dinner featuring matzoh, horseradish, charoset and four cups of wine — but it takes real guts to host one if you’re not, and I admire the first family for doing so.
I understand some Christians hold seders at Passover, as a way of honoring the first of the Big Three of Monotheism, but I don’t know if I could do that. You know how people resent converts to any religion, the way they take the plunge into whatever your particular baptismal font might be, and then surface telling everyone what they’re doing wrong? That’s what it would feel like. You need a real Jew at the head of the table. I suppose if anyone could pull that off, though, it would be our multi-racial, multi-cultural president.
One detail from that story sticks with me:
Then came what is now remembered as the Macaroon Security Standoff. At 6:30, with the Seder about to start, Neil Cohen, the husband of Michelle Obama’s friend and adviser Susan Sher, was stuck at the gate bearing flourless cookies he had brought from Chicago. They were kosher for Passover, but not kosher with the Secret Service, which does not allow food into the building.
Offering to help, the president walked to the North Portico and peered out the door, startling tourists. He volunteered to go all the way to the gates, but advisers stopped him, fearing that would cause a ruckus. Everyone seemed momentarily befuddled. Could the commander in chief not summon a plate of cookies to his table? Finally, Mr. Love ran outside to clear them.
Mr. Love is Reggie Love, whom the NYT calls Obama’s “personal aide.” The job is informally known as “body man.” A politician’s body man — Hillary Clinton has a body woman — is a combination doppelganger, stand-in and walking purse. The body man carries your cell phone and hand sanitizer, gently takes your elbow when you need to be freed from a too-clingy supporter and opens the door for you. The body man frees a big part of your brain for other things.
Remember when George W. Bush, in China, spoiled his exit by trying to open a door that was locked? He should have paid attention to his body man, who was standing by the correct exit.
It goes without saying that the body man has the best seat in the house for watching presidential history in the making, but it takes the right kind of person. If you think you’re too good to fetch a plate of macaroons, it’s not the job for you. On the other hand, note Love’s position in this photo and ask yourself: Would I be willing to carry the Kleenex for this sort of fringe benefit? I would.
It’s a relatively new position in American politics, and I don’t think any have written their memoirs yet. I expect the best ones never will.
Love will be at this year’s seder. Just in case anyone tries to bring unapproved cookies.
So, as long as we’re a little light and gossipy today, someone tell me, maybe someone who follows the gossip columns a little more closely than I do: Is Jennifer Lopez still a diva?* Still buying Creme de la Mer for her ass, still insisting that she be surrounded by her special grapefruit-scented candles at all times? Does she still keep her eyebrow shaper on retainer? Travel with a beauty entourage?
I have to wonder. Not that Lopez is some sort of hagatha at 40, but at some point you have to get over yourself, and if you keep making movies like “The Back-up Plan,” it’s going to come sooner rather than later. Just the trailer — the funniest, most marketable moments of the movie — makes you want to stick your head in the oven. The woman’s capable of doing good work. She did it once (“Selena”) and did it again (“Out of Sight”) so I guess she has it in her. But lord spare us from more rom-coms where the audience is supposed to identify with her in her million-dollar shoes.
Tina Fey — now there’s an everywoman. If she weren’t so busy making television, she could turn out three of these a year and still keep it fresh. I have to watch “30 Rock” on demand, so I can re-run it and catch all the funny lines that slipped past when I was laughing at the last one. This week’s contender was Jack Donaghy’s: “(Irish Catholics) mate for life. Like swans. Like drunken, angry swans.”
“Date Night” — now there’s a romantic comedy. That one I’ll see. Eventually. Maybe I should write one. What do you think of “Body Man” as a title?
Any good bloggage? No. It’s all depressing. Suicide bombers in Moscow, lunatics in the Michigan woods — it’s just not a good day.
So try to have a good one, and I will as well.
* I know I had some comments a few days back about overuse of this word, but I think J-Lo qualifies.