A lot of folks are screaming about the gall of Hillary Clinton running for the Senate from New York. Gimme a freakin' break, pal. Who's more New York than Hillary Clinton?
I know what I'm talking about. Hillary grew up around the corner from me on Long Island. I didn't really notice her until sixth grade, when suddenly everyone noticed her. She broke every heart in Hewlett Elementary. Boys were scavenging in garbage cans for empties so they could play spin the bottle with her.
In junior high Hillary had a tough-guy boyfriend, Frankie, who would have been a senior in high school, if he hadn't dropped out in 10th grade. To impress her he tried sticking up a Texaco station, and got his head caved in with a tire iron. That was when Hillary first expressed an interest in health care.
Hillary and I took driver's ed together in high school. She used to sit in the back smoking Salem 100s and polishing her nails, so that when it was her turn to drive she could dry them by hanging her hands out the window on turn signals. One day in the parking lot when we were juniors she got in a big fight over the Kennedys with a fat girl named Mary Evelyn Schecter. Mary Evelyn said something unflattering about Jackie's outfits, and Hillary ripped her dangling earrings right out of her ears. Hillary always was passionate about politics.
The night of our junior prom we stayed out all night on Jones Beach and got totally blasted on Rheingold, the official beer of the New York City subway. (Hillary bought it. She loved driving up to liquor stores and putting on a lousy Puerto Rican accent to order, "Sees-pack, Rrrhinegold.") Hillary's date was this total loser named Rudy, who wore a Yankees cap and kept saying, "Let's go to the Yankee game. Let's go to the Yankee game." Hillary said, "Keep it up, Rude, and I'll have you whacked. You could end up in a meat locker."
We moved on to Boone's Farm (which is why we called her "Strawberry Hill") and put away quite a few bottles by the time the sun came up. Rudy went to kiss her. Hillary took her gum out of her mouth, stuck it behind her ear, kissed him once. I knew she wasn't really interested, but this moron Rudy must have thought the cheap wine had softened her up. He reached for her blouse and she popped him in the side of the head. "Fuhgeddaboudit, sissy boy," she said, then laughed in his face.
Hillary drove a candy-apple red '64 GTO with a 389 engine. She had a bumper sticker that said "What are YOU looking at?" You should have seen her on the Cross Bronx Expressway late at night. In our high school yearbook, under "goal," Hillary wrote: "To leave rubber in all four gears."
But her senior year was a disaster. She had gotten into her first-choice college on "early decision," which meant she was locked in by October. She took that as an engraved invitation to become a total party animal--and I don't mean the Democratic Party. She started hanging out in Greenwich Village coffee houses. She dressed like Joan Baez in black Danskins and smeared on thick black eyeliner. Most of the time she looked like a raccoon. I remember when Dylan went electric, Hillary wanted to jump off the Triboro Bridge. She called me up, weeping, and said, "You believe this sellout weasel? I worshiped this guy. Men are pigs. I'm never going to let a man fool me again."
Hillary's grades bottomed out. When the college admissions office got hold of her senior transcript, it canceled her acceptance, "with extreme prejudice," which meant in order to apply again she'd have to have two-thirds support of the United States Senate. I remember when our history teacher found out Hillary had been booted, he stood up at the front of the room and said: "You'll never amount to anything. I wouldn't be surprised if they got a special prosecutor to go after you someday."
Hillary ended up going with me to the State University of New York at Binghamton. I asked if she felt bad that she didn't go to a fancy out-of-state school, and she said, "You mean some Junior League dog track like Wellesley? Are you kidding me?"
In Binghamton, Hillary went psychedelic. She had the lyrics to "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" blown up, and she plastered her dorm room with them. She dragged me to Woodstock to see Santana play "Black Magic Woman." I lost track of her after the second day, frolicking naked in a mud pit. A week later she showed up in ethics class with a guy she claimed was Jimi Hendrix's drummer.
She met Bill Clinton in our senior year at a Hillel Club mixer at NYU. Hillary and I had driven down to the city because she had a craving for a Hebrew National salami sandwich and a Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Tonic. Over the years Hillary spent so much money at the Carnegie Deli, they put her picture on the wall. "Can you imagine what life is like for hicks?" she said as we drove over the GW Bridge into Manhattan. "Folks from East Bumcluck, Arkansas, for example? They go their whole lives without riding the subway, without getting in a cab driven by a suicidal maniac, without ever emptying a can of Mace in some geek's face. I'd rather be cleaning up after the elephants in Madison Square Garden with my own personal toothbrush than be the Queen of Arkansas."
By the time we got to NYU we'd been awake for 30 hours, and the reds we'd taken upstate had just about worn off. We blew into the mixer like an evil wind. Over in a corner was a tall guy carrying a saxophone case, surrounded by the trashiest women I'd ever seen, every one of them blond, brassy and busty. I thought I'd taken a wrong turn and ended up at a stock car race. He had eyes for Hillary right away.
"I just love New York girls," he told her in this syrupy drawl, "and I can tell a New York girl a mile away."
Her first words to him, and I'll never forget this, were, "You and what army, Guido? Hey, look down my dress again and I'll have your eyeballs for hors d'oeuvres."
He said he'd come to New York to find some sharpie doctor who'd write a bogus letter to the draft board. He'd made bus fare by selling mescaline out of a Young Americans for Freedom knapsack.
"What's your sign?" he asked her.
"What's my sign?" Hillary replied. "What are you, from the moon?"
She turned to go. Just then somebody put on the Doors album, and Bill grabbed her by the arm and said, "Come on, come on, come on, come on and touch me babe. Can't you see that I am not afraid?"
That was the last time I saw Hillary.