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Hallelujah, the cable is out! This gives me an opportunity to write my latest ode. Time Warner blessed me with enough hours of service to cover Martha Stewart’s White House Tour (granted on the eve of moving day, her first invitation—clearly Martha will not meet extortionate demands). Hostessing duties were shared by the (nevertheless) senator-elect, and her assistant, whom I used to speak with on the phone when I worked for H.R.C.’s old Wellesley College roommate.

This assistant’s name I would always repeat to myself with wonder at its aptness to the peculiar tone both roommies seemed so bent on setting in my workplace and my nation; but I could never memorize it! Not Charisma, not Candida—ten minutes later I’d go to tell people about her and I’d just have to give up in the middle, it was annoying. And I never wrote it down, except on those pink WHILE YOU WERE OUT slips when she’d call my boss on H.R.C.’s behalf and miss her; and I never saw it written down except when I’d have to get something at my boss’s desk and I’d notice that she’d saved every slip that said—


From Martha’s lips I finally hear this name again. I turn from the computer and see her talking to pleasant-looking dark-haired person. Not at all what I’d imagined: of course, my effete mental Capricia would never have lasted so long. Eight years as that woman’s social secretary—from day one, down to the furniture-packing. Did Capricia get some furniture too? Even if she did, I wish her well. But as for the former first lady:

Pardon me
Senator Clinton
for carrying a vial of antivenin in case I ever accidentally cross your cordon at Lutece;
pardon me for noticing that your cheek pouches are stuffed with safe deposit box keys;
pardon me while I go put on blackface so as to be able to worship with you on the news;
pardon me while I go help Martha Stewart into one of the armchairs you haven’t already stolen before she faints in horror at your choice of fabrics for the Blue Room—
she’s barely managing to brace herself on the edge of a table—
pardon me for using your unauthorized likeness in my Powerpoint presentations when I seek venture capital for the development and manufacture of miniature electronic fetal ear filters which will block out the sound of your voice from birth.

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