As we turned into the parking lot near One Observatory Circle, the butterflies in my stomach began fluttering faster and harder. I saw the shuttle that would drive us to the Vice President’s Residence, but before we could board, we had to be cleared by a Secret Service Agent. Once we were seated on the bus, another Secret Service Agent checked our names against her attendance list.
In moments, the bus departed. A short time later, it pulled up in front of a mansion festooned with wreaths in every window.
Another security check, and then we got into the line that snaked across the wrap-around porch. Christmas music played over the speakers. Hot cider and hot chocolate stations were set up so we could enjoy drinks while we waited.
We inched closer and closer to the room where the Vice President of the United States and his wife stood, posing with every person who visited that day. Before I knew it, we were at the front of the line. I could see Joe and Jill Biden warmly greeting the couple who had been in line just in front of us. My heart was pounding.
“Please don’t let me say or do something stupid. Please.” I’m not sure if I said that out loud or only with my inner voice.
The couple with the Bidens were ushered out. My husband and I stepped into the room. Mrs. Biden embraced my husband. The Vice President’s face lit up with recognition upon seeing him – my husband had been a member of his flight crew for nearly four years.
“Hey, buddy!” He said to my husband as he slipped his arm across my shoulders. He looked me in the eye. “Thank you for coming.”
The Vice President is thanking ME for coming? As if this was an invitation I would decline!
It was the most surreal moment of my life, but I think I managed to actually speak coherently. “Thank you for inviting me,” I think I said.
We crowded in for a photo. The photographer didn’t even warn us. Click, flash, done.
The Vice President thanked us again and that was that. We were ushered into the main part of the house, where a holiday reception was already in full swing.
Themed Christmas trees stood in every room. Hungry guests were lined up at the elegant breakfast buffet. Servers weaved through the throngs of people, carrying trays of orange juice and mimosas.
We ate and mingled and drank. Mimosas for me. I apparently had enough to make one waiter decide to come to me first thing after he replenished his tray. Mimosas at the Vice President’s Residence, though. You only live once.
But the thing about mimosas – they spill. In this case, all over the Vice President’s hardwood floor.