TWO FREE TICKETS to "Un Ballo in Maschera" at the Kennedy Center: another benefit of working for a generous (and wealthy) congressman. Early in the day Pete's secretary asks if I am interested. Then, about 3, shortly after Pete said he wanted to send a "Dear Colleague" letter to House members about the resolution to expel Abscamer Ozzie Myers, I am on my way out when Pete asks if I am leaving for the day. Scenting the impending availability of the tickets, and even though my normal hours are 8 to 3, I say, "No, I'll be back about 5."
I quickly bike to the South Capitol tennis courts and rally for about an hour. It is windy and Jesse doesn't want to pay a set. I am irritated. Although my game might improve if I worked on my weaknesses, for me competition is the thing.
I was right. The tickets are mine. No need to ask Shelly. She's always ready to go, although it is Friday and we are both usually tired at week's end. I give her the good news as I barge into our Southwest Washington apartment.
After a quick dinner, we walk the half mile to the Federal Center Southwest Metro stop. Along the way we keep our eyes peeled for discarded M&M wrappers. Shelly's hobby is couponing and just now there is an offer of a free M&M T-shirt for 20 wrappers. I tell my wife that we are certainly the only $30 ticket holders going to the opera on the Metro with litter in our pockets.
The opera is a smash. Later we look up Paul Hume's review in The Post and find that our untrained critical faculties are apparently sound. Saturday
Up early, read, think about the Myers case, play tennis, do the laundry -- a typical Saturday except that in the evening we watch the PBS telecast of Verdi's "Manon Lescaut." Two operas in two nights and I enjoyed them in spite of all the singing! Sunday
Football on television is our religion. The Redskins play Seattle at 4 in the second televised game. Before that, we do our house cleaning and I leisurely jog to the office. I open and distribute the weekend accumulation of mail and look at the committee report on the Myers case. Early last year, Pete came back from a debate on expelling Charlie Diggs, praising remarks made by Ab Mikva. Several days ago, I looked them up and after clearing it with Becky, Pete's top assistant -- his AA, in Hillspeak -- I refreshed Pete's memory. Now my task is to draft the "Dear Colleague."
It's a blessing that Redskin losses don't affect me the way Green Bay Packers defeats did in the 60s. If they did, I couldn't function tonight, although I'm not making much progress on the letter. Newspaper people seem to do well on the Hill -- they crank out this stuff much more quickly than I can. After the game, I reread the committee report and the Diggs debate and then, with one eye, watch "Crime and Punishment" on Channel 26. I fall asleep with "Crime and Punishment" still on -- both the TV and my mind. Monday
I'm at the office by 7:40 and there is more mail than I expected. I've always liked to open and distribute the mail. I can do it quickly and it keeps me in touch with what is happening. Somewhere I read that Speaker Albert opened a lot of his mail. By 11, I have a draft letter on Pete's desk and he soon okays it. I make arrangements to get it out today. I'm glad it is behind me.
Now my worry is the CIA secrecy bill scheduled for debate on Wednesday. Pete strongly opposes this bill that makes disclosures that identify covert agents a crime even if the disclosed information comes from public documents. Pete wants to help defeat the bill, resorting to delaying tactics if necessary. We have run about a dozen amendments past a legislative counsel. Around noon, I get a call that they can be picked up and I decide that I had better familiarize myself with them and prepare for possible floor action.
It is difficult for me to concentrate in our crowded office -- always a minimum of four people in a medium-sized room -- and I follow my usual practice and walk to the Library of Congress. After a couple of hours, I return to the office and distribute the afternoon mail. Just as I'm about to depart at 4, Pete gives me a note about a telephone call from the chief of staff of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I think I know what it's about and decide to return the call tomorrow. Tennis with Jesse. Later I fall asleep watching Monday Night Football. Tuesday
Arrive at the office at the usual time. I'm a creature of habit. Pete's "Dear Colleague" is in the early mail. About 9, we get a call from the Foreign Affairs Committee. I recall yesterday's message and quickly return the call. It's Pete's resolution of inquiry on Iran. The administration has responded to Pete's questions about who lost Iran with a thanks, but no thanks. The Committee will consider the resolution and the response at 9:30; does Pete want to testify (10 minutes from now)?
I'm stunned. That message yesterday was not the routine inquiry I assumed it was. I call Pete. He's upset but not a bear about my error. We decide to send a letter asking the committee not to consider the matter at this time. The committee tables Pete's resolution. Then the news inquiries start. The first is from the International Communication Agency. I decide to avoid them by heading for the library.
My goof and my inability to focus on the CIA amendments concern me. About 2:30, I return to the office. Things seem calm, but it is the calm before the storm. Pete comes in with information from the parliamentarian that Pete's resolution is dead for this session of Congress. I react with a strong sense of having failed Pete and I decide that this is as good a time as any to bail out of this legislative assistant's rat race that I've begun to be sucked into again. I worked for Don Fraser from 1969 to 1979 and long ago decided that an LA's work is a young person's work. And to top it all, my mail is beginning to stack up again. I really owe Pete some notice but this 49-year-old instantaneously feels that the best service he can do his employer and himself is to resign.
I gather up my three prints hanging over my desk and quickly walk home, arriving drenched in perspiration. I feel good. I win two sets of tennis before Shelly gets home. I decide to tell Shelly in the morning. We skip the special meeting of our co-op and watch "Head Over Heals" on HBO. Not bad, but our viewing is interrupted by a fire alarm in the building. I sleep well. Wednesday
Shelly says she's not surprised. I guess the signs were there. We discuss my decision as we walk to the Metro station. There's a story in The Post headlined, "Administrative Fends Off Hill Inquiry Into Iran Policies Until After Election." It mentions that Pete "felt the White House opposition meant no inquiry would be even debated in the House until after the election."
I spend a couple of hours going over our finances and conclude that we'll manage. Between 10 and 12, I lose to John in three sets as usual. About 1, I head for the Library of Congress to finish reading an edited version of Thomas Carlyle's "Life of Friedrich the Great." I've been at this since early summer. Shelly says that I've found the perfect soporific for myself. I fight sleep and start worrying about health insurance. It's strange, but when Fraser left Congress and I faced unemployment in 1979, health insurance was my major concern then too. I figure it will cost about $60 to $75 a month. Thursday
The CIA bill didn't reach the House floor yesterday. Maybe it's dead. I hope so. Walk to Metro with Shelly. M&M wrappers abound. All of our friends and relatives will be walking M&M advertisements in their T-shirts. At 9:30, Ted calls for a 4:15 tennis date. I walk to the library for more Carlyle. I consider going to the House to listen to the debate on Ozzie Myers' fate but I guess that it will be very crowded. I know Pete will vote for a delay but will he vote to expel? I doubt it.
Our tennis match is ended by a storm. I'm soaked when I reach home. We watch "Dracula" on HBO. Both of us like Frank Langella. We first saw him in Albee's "Seascape" many years ago at the Kennedy Center.
Ozzie Myers was expelled, 376 to 30. Friday
I head for The Post as soon as my feet hit the deck. Pete voted against expulsion. There is a front page story on Bob Bauman. For the first time in my life I feel something other than contempt for Bauman. There can be strong pressures on Hill people. I'm not sure that they are stronger than pressures elsewhere. It all depends on the individual and how he or she copes. A good marriage, a simple life style, no kids and being unambitious help me.
Walk with Shelly to the Metro and then on to the scene of my recent crime. Pete is in California campaigning. He should have no problems, but every election is trying for a politician (and the staff). Gloria is obviously pleased to see me and Becky isn't unfriendly. I pick up a few more possessions, including 70 cents that I left in my desk drawer. Small sums loom larger. Perhaps this is what retired people on fixed incomes experience.
I head for the library and Carlyle. By noon, I've finally finished, making note of Carlyle's thoughts on the dying king: "Atheism, truly, he never could abide: to him, as to all of us, it was flatly inconceivable that intellect, moral emotion, could have been put into him by an Entity that had none of its own."
As a sometimes atheist, this thought confirms my faith -- it's been a wild, unpredictable, traumatic week, but aren't all weeks. Surely, no higher rational Entity would subject us to this world!