“You’re a shambles,” she recalls the policeman telling her.
“Officer, yes, I am!” she told him.
Just then, it dawns on her what’s been bothering her all morning.
“I didn’t zip my dress! I’m like, there’s something itching,” she says. “Oh, it’s my dress!”
Now she’s digging under the ruffles of her jacket collar and waving over a photographer for help. Ah, relief. The whole thing cracks her up.
Sinema likes to crack herself her up. She likes to crack everyone else up, too, even though this last tendency — the aspirationally comedic — is forever getting her in trouble.
“I think there’s this pressure to get rid of the fun that makes us human,” Sinema says a few minutes later. “It hasn’t worked on me.”
Sinema is a bracingly unfiltered talker, a precocious achiever, a high-energy persuader, an adjunct professor, a lawyer, a marathon runner, a lover of designer clothes. She is a holder of many, many degrees — this she’s happy to tell you in a humble-braggy sort of way. And she can be a lot of fun to hang out with, a rambling, kind of kooky monologist who can pivot from whimsical and wacky to substantive and earnest without a pause.
Krysten Sinema is also — and it irks her to no end that this is such an object of fascination — an openly bisexual woman. And not just any openly bisexual woman, but the first openly bisexual person to be elected to Congress, an undoubtedly historic figure whose very presence on Capitol Hill could serve as an inspiration when she is sworn in Thursday and joins six openly gay and lesbian members in the most demographically diverse Congress in U.S. history.
In an era when gay men and lesbians getting elected to public office is trending from “oh, wow” to almost ho-hum, it’s a real bummer for this 36-year-old Arizona Democrat that news reports around the world have distilled her to a single distinguishing characteristic based on her sexual orientation (although Sinema has been open about her sexuality for years and welcomed the endorsement and financial support of gay rights groups). And when Sinema is bothered, she isn’t that fun-loving, self-deprecating, laugh riot with the quirky ways. She can turn lecturing, hectoring, defensive, accusatory, pouty and curiously repetitive. Even a softball question about how her sexual orientation has informed her thinking about public policy — she was, after all, the architect of a successful campaign to block a same-sex marriage ban in Arizona — peeves her.
“I don’t have a story to tell,” she snaps. “I don’t think this is relevant or significant. I’m confused when these questions come up.”