I started to worry about what I was supposed to wear. Since I wasn't going to be on camera, why should I get dressed up? On the other hand, I was certain that Bill would be wearing a suit. And if I were dressed similarly, it would increase the chances of his saying to me, "Hey, Lloyd, why don't we grab a bite to eat after the debate?" And that was my main goal: to end up friends with Bill Clinton - for us to be buddies who'd call each other whenever we felt like hanging out. The idea of being friends with an ex-President - and not just any ex-President, but Bill Clinton - was awfully seductive. I made a mental note to get my one and only suit cleaned.
I fantasized about what Bill and I would say to each other when we met:
Lloyd: (SHAKING HIS HAND FIRMLY) It's an honor to meet you, Mr. President.
Bill: (SHAKING MY HAND WITH BOTH OF HIS) It's nice to meet you, too, Lloyd. I'm a huge fan of your column.
Hey, it's my fantasy.
Once the candidates were onstage, I could ask him the question about his wife millions of Americans would like to ask:
Lloyd: Another pantsuit? Is she ever going to wear a skirt or a dress during the campaign?
Bill: (SMILING) Do you think someone wearing a 15-year-old suit should criticize what someone else is wearing? Besides, I guarantee that if she wins the election, she'll be wearing a dress at the Inaugural Ball.
Lloyd: I don't know about you, but I've lost track of how many of these debates they've already had. The major networks rarely cover them, sometimes they're on channels I've never heard of, and they've already used YouTube. What's next, are they going to use tin cans and string to talk to the few people who are really interested in these things? You must be bored out of your mind to hear the same stuff over and over again.
Bill: Huh? Did you say something? I must've dozed off.
Lloyd: If you don't mind my saying so, it feels like your wife is getting more and more cautious. It seems like instead of trying to win, now she's trying not to lose. Doesn't she seem like a football team that's sitting on a big lead, and doesn't want to make a mistake?
Bill: I love football. The camaraderie of the fans, the excitement of the game. It's a great sport.
Lloyd: Nice avoidance, sir.
Bill: It was nothing. Just Politics 101.
After the debate is over, I ask President Clinton if he and the Senator would like to join me for something to eat or drink.
Bill: I wish you had asked me sooner. We have plans. Let's do it another time. Just call me on my private line whenever you feel like it.
I couldn't believe Bill Clinton was telling me to call him on his private number. Then he started to leave.
Lloyd: Wait! I don't know the number.
Bill: No problem. I'm in the book.
And then he left. My new pal. My new buddy. My new ... Wait a minute. Who is he kidding? His number isn't in the book. I shook my head and smiled. Even after all this time, even in my fantasy, he's still pretty slick.
It probably won't shock you to learn that I didn't win the lottery. Somebody else will be going. I didn't even get a consolation prize like a toaster oven or a potluck dinner at the Kucinich house. No, my evening with Bill Clinton was all in my head. But it did force me to think about the election, how politicians talk, why there are so many debates, and whether I need a new suit.
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them fantasies.
By Lloyd Garver