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She's Back, and Everyone Knows It

Monica Lewinsky Surrounded by the media, Monica S. Lewinsky (right) is escorted Saturday through the lobby of a downtown Washington hotel. (AP)

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  • By Peter Slevin and Christina A. Samuels
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Sunday, January 24, 1999; Page A14

    She stepped out of an ordinary car at a most extraordinary time, and she was immediately surrounded. Photographers and cameramen, not called shooters for nothing, raced across Connecticut Avenue NW and opened fire.

    The woman in the baseball cap hurried into the elegant foyer of the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel. She moved down the marble corridor, and as she moved, the camera horde moved with her.

    "I've never been to a fox hunt," fellow Mayflower guest Jeff Kirsch said, "but it must be something like that. She was like a trapped animal."

    Monica S. Lewinsky is back in Washington, back in the place that is her stage and her jail. Long before she arrived, the professionals and the merely curious were waiting at the Mayflower to see her. After she arrived, the hairdressers and the manicurists started calling.

    They called the hotel switchboard. They wanted to do the famous guest's hair and nails. For free. Could the operator pass the message to Ms. Lewinsky, please?

    "I guess a lot of hairdressers watch CNN," said Colleen Evans, a spokeswoman for the Mayflower. "At this point, we aren't making any appointments for her."

    Discretion is the Mayflower's byword during Lewinsky's stay. As Evans was explaining the code of privacy to a reporter on a house telephone, there was a sudden burst of applause in the lobby, a flash of cameras.

    Monica? Monica! A flurry of excitement! No Monica. It was the arrival of the Michael and Nancy Corrigan wedding party. The bride's parents, who planned a reception for 200 guests months ago, were suitably bemused. They were not, however, likely to invite Lewinsky.

    "No way!" laughed Maguid Mansour, father of the bride. "The woman is not our type."

    Over in the Mayflower's lobby shop, cashier Fernando Vega was hoping Lewinsky might stop by. He would like to be friendly, say hello . . . "and see how she looks." The trinkets on his shelves included U.S. Capitol nail clippers and miniature Washington Monuments but no longer any Lewinsky items.

    "We used to have shot glasses with Monica Lewinsky," Vega said. "They sold out."

    The appearance of Lewinsky at the Mayflower created a Washington moment, a timely intersection of wonkdom and scandal during a week headlined by a president talking Social Security reform to a Senate talking high crimes and misdemeanors.

    As Lewinsky arrived, a conference was just ending. A conference on health care policy. A conference attended by 550 people who care deeply about health care policy. A conference on health care policy addressed Friday by the vice president of the United States, himself.

    Then she arrived. Some of the health care people watched.

    "I was standing right outside the door. Out she came, with a baseball cap," said Joe Craven, a Dedham, Mass., insurance salesman. "I thought there were about 10 reporters who were going to get killed by traffic, running across the street. It was almost comical, the reporters."

    That's not all Craven thought, though, as he watched Lewinsky move down the hall of gilt and mirrors toward cover.

    "I just felt bad for her. It's been a year of it. It's a beautiful hotel, and she won't be able to enjoy it," Craven went on. "She brought it on herself, but God, has she had to pay."

    Outside, most people rolled their eyes and kept walking, but Edgar Brown was staying for the duration. A cameraman with Fox Newschannel, he guessed he had worked two dozen Lewinsky stakeouts.

    "You can't read. You gotta watch what's going on," Brown counseled. He spotted his quarry, and he shot. He bagged 90 seconds of tape, then sat down to wait some more.


    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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