I’ve never been much of a social climber. I grew up in a middle-class neighborhood in Los Angeles, where all the other kids were just like me. Sure, the families across town in Brentwood or Beverly Hills could shower their children with nicer clothes, vacations in Europe, and a new car for their 16th birthday. But generally I was content to wear my no-name sneakers, vacation at Sea World, and ride the RTD bus to Santa Monica beach. (Is my age showing here?)
All right, my sister will probably read this article and call me to account, so I might as well confess proactively: Sure, I went through a stage in high school when I longed to sit at the cool kids’ table during lunch. For that was the land of the pretty popular girls, who could give me instant social validation and a boost to my fragile self-esteem.
Such is the lot of a teenage boy in the big city.
But alas, some people never seem to overcome those insecurities of adolescence. For as they grow up, the cool kids’ table evolves into the “right” college, the “right” fraternity or sorority, the “right” restaurant and country club. And of course, they absolutely must be seen at all the “right” parties with the other similarly ambitious upwardly mobiles.
Enter Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the now-famous gate-crashers at the White House. They gained entry to the hottest party in town, schmoozed with the coolest kids, and had their pictures taken with the most powerful people in all the land. Superlatives all around.
But wait, how did they get in? They were invited, they say. Invited by who? Apparently, they knew someone at the Department of Defense, who intervened on their behalf. Am I the only one who finds it strange that the president’s social calendar might be managed by a mid-level bureaucrat at the Pentagon?
For anyone who might be tempted to believe this story, there’s more: Just a few weeks ago, they showed up uninvited at a dinner for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. According to a report by Fox News, they entered through a back door and mixed easily among the other diners until they were found out and escorted out the door without incident.
The Secret Service has promised a quick and thorough investigation, which just might lead to criminal charges. But exactly what crime was committed here? Some have speculated that the couple could be prosecuted for trespassing, the least of all misdemeanors. But their “trespass” was made possible only through several improbable security lapses; they managed to make it through several security checkpoints unchallenged – and even had their names announced upon their arrival. Can any prosecutor really make that case with a straight face? Hardly seems worth the trouble.
In an interview on this morning’s Today show on NBC, the Salahis reported that they were “devastated” by all the attention and the prospect of going to jail. Oh, really? It sounds to me like they dropped a banana peel on a wet floor and slipped on it purposely. And now they want to blame Chiquita for their injuries. I don’t think so.
Secret Service, you screwed up. Just accept it and move on. These uninvited guests were harmless pranksters, but you probably won’t be so lucky the next time around.
Mr. and Mrs. Salahi, you’ve had your fun; now give it a rest. You should be grateful that you weren’t arrested on the spot. These guys have been known to shoot first and ask questions later. And they rarely miss.
Incidentally, my high school reunion was quite an eye-opener. Twenty years out, most of the cool kids were fat, bald, unemployed multi-divorced alcoholics. Thank God for unanswered prayers.