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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

From my Front Porch

Thursday, October 24, 2002

The President's Visit -- Chapter I: Victoria's Secret Service

Last week the president of the United States delivered a speech in Springfield, Mo., -- less than two-hours from my home. As a freelance journalist, I strive to do my job with perseverance and integrity, so I seized the opportunity. I contacted officials in our nation's capitol and submitted to an FBI background check. Soon I received the required press credential qualifications, as well as, "Sensitive Information" concerning when I was supposed to be where and a general listing of the President's itinerary.

I then did what any responsible journalist would do and went shopping.

Since clothes make the reporter, in a manner of speaking, I wanted to look as professional as my budget would allow, so, I went to my favorite department store and headed straight for the sales rack. Being a large woman, it is often difficult to find apparel that is both sensible and stylish. For some reason, fashion designers think big gals want to look cute. Well, I have news for them. The last thing this size 20 wants is a big ol' bow on her big ol' behind and they should forget about those over-sized collars, as well.

While shopping, I took into consideration that security during the President's visit would be very strict. I didn't want to wear anything too fussy just in case my camera wasn't the only thing examined thoroughly. I had no idea if the security process would involve a pass through a metal detector, a pat down by a cute secret service agent, or, heaven forbid, a strip search. Just in case, I wanted to be exceptionally stylish. So, I followed my mother's advice and, not only did I wear clean underwear, I splurged on a set of coordinating undergarments featuring a fashionable leopard print that would have made Victoria proud.

I eventually found the perfect outfit -- an olive green flowing crepe polyester bowless number featuring a knee-length tunic and matching slacks. I decided not try on the one-size-fits-most ensemble. Big mistake, though the olive green went well with the leopard print underwear.

The morning of the President's visit, I was dressed and on the road well before the crack of dawn. As I prepared to leave, I took one last look in the mirror and realized, to my dismay, that the flowing tunic style of my outfit was reminiscent of a Middle-Eastern cleric. (Normally, this would be just fine. After all, the look is slimming.) Not only that, but in anticipation of a possible shoe check, I was wearing my most comfortable pair of sandals. If I draped the scarf accessorizing my neckline over my head the effect would be complete. Unfortunately, it was too late to change clothes.

I arrived in Springfield, parked my car and began walking. At every corner, uniformed officers requested proper identification. Each time I held my breath. Soon, I was standing with other reporters at the press entrance to the building where the President wasn't due to arrive for another three hours. Nevertheless, a hopeful excitement filled the air and the ticketholders' line already extended halfway across the parking lot.

Eventually, a secret service agent came to the press entrance and directed us to a serious looking woman holding a folder. He explained that no one could enter unless their name was listed. Once again, I held my breath. She finally found my name and gave me a pass. I breathed easier, but only for a moment. When I tried to open the appropriate door, it was locked. The same agent looked at me and requested I step back three feet. Though, he didn't say please, I disregarded his lack of manners and complied immediately.

Other than that one moment, the security process wasn't very exciting. While my five-compartment camera bag was searched thoroughly, I simply walked through a metal detector and was done. It was a little disappointing, since apparently, I had worn leopard print in vain.

But there's always hope. Who knows, maybe next time, Victoria's Secret Service will be called into action.