This Monday we were priveledged to by whisked past President Jimmy Carter as he signed books for us at Borders in Westwood.
The lines were EXTREMELY long, out front there was some sort of protest by an Iranian group (not sure about what, but they were MAD) and there was general mayhem in the store. But I have to say the Borders staff were really on top of it; they spotted Cole, me and Ilia in line to get our wrist bands and squired us right upstairs.
It was surreal. President Carter was seated about 50 feet away from where we stepped out of the elevator. He spotted Cole immediately and rarely took his eyes from him as they passed one book after another beneath his pen. He was flanked by Secret Service, who surveyed the crowd disapprovingly. No one was really allowed to speak to Carter and the one man who tried to shake hands was quickly shuffled on.
I can’t blame them, I guess. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there (which I took as a sign of hope) and they had to get them through efficiently while keeping Carter safe.
We rolled up for our turn with two books to be signed; Carter’s new release, “The White House Diary” and a book he’d co-written with a young poet and peacemaker named Mattie Stepanek a few years back. It’s partially comprised of their e-mail correspondence and is called Just Peace. We bought one from Mattie’s mother Jeni when she was on tour promoting it. In it, Carter talks with this 13-year-old boy about how to achieve world peace. A boy whose muscular dystrophy was so severe it eventually took his life before he turned 14, but not before he took his message of peace to the world through his poetry.
As we were shunted past, Just Peace was slid before Carter. He looked up hopefully at Cole, then locked onto me with the most piercing, clear blue eyes (at 86!) Nodding at Cole, he said, “Did he get to meet Mattie?” Craning my neck around backward so that he could hear my reply as I was escorted past I called out, “No, but he got to recite one of Mattie’s poems to Jeni!”
A huge, beaming smile.
What’s not to love about a man who thinks it’s more important to talk about peace with a child than to be leader of the free world?