I’ve met Donald Trump on two occasions, in the way that when you’re in the same room with a celebrity you feel like you’ve met them even though you never got within more than a few feet. The first was in 1992 at the Super Bowl in Minneapolis. I remember the event far more for Doug Williams and the Redskins decisive victory over Denver than for having been in the presence of “The Donald”. He was with a mini entourage, one of his wives I think Ivana was with him. He was in a suit and a Kojak looking overcoat and she was in a full-length mink coat. The game in Minnesota was played inside in 75 degree weather in the Metrodome but I suppose one had to get from the limo inside and he had people to hand all his stuff. I thought how uncomfortable it must be to watch a game in that attire but I guess when you’re Donald Trump you have an image to maintain.
The second time was maybe 10 years later in New York on the grounds of the US Open Tennis Tournament. For anyone that’s attended that event. Inevitably during the first week the temperature reaches approximately 100 degrees every day, and at some time during the second week the temperature breaks and then it gets cold, catching the uninitiated unawares who then have to buy one of the fleece items sold on the grounds or go home. There is a lot of open space on the grounds of the Open and there is no way to get around and avoid the elements. Donald Trump was there when the temperatures were hot, yet he still wore a suit and was accompanied by a new wife who looked considerably like the first. His hair had acquired a new tint that I couldn’t really attach any color to that I knew by name. He was a bit larger, not larger than life simply larger and he had the feeling this time of having become a caricature of himself that got up each day trying to maintain the image he imagined.
As Donald and I (now having met twice and on a first name basis) don’t really run in the same circles we haven’t had occasion to get together again. Of course, he is on TV from time to time and I might stop to watch my friend but it was during this election season with his myriad appearances that I began to see him as if for the first time.
Donald had become shrill in voice and was constantly calling out for attention. I was now finally able to understand the phrase concerning Don Quixote tilting at windmills. His obsession about the President’s Birth Certificate was clearly much more about his vanity and desire to stay in the spotlight than anything else. It was at the White House Correspondents ‘Dinner that he reached rock bottom I thought. When the President of the United States on national television having released his long form birth certificate days earlier, took the time to publicly humiliate my friend Donald with the camera’s pointing at him slinking in his chair. And when it became known that he did so while Donald occupied only a minor portion of his thoughts as he was involved at that moment with the raid to get Bin Laden. I wondered who near him would step in with an intervention.
Donald disappeared for a time, but obviously his crack like addiction for attention still needed to be fed so he got back up off the mat and inserted himself back into the public eye. He took credit for having been the one that “got the President” to release his birth certificate while at the same time doubting its authenticity. He stood by Mitt Romney and endorsed him in his own hotel which has more to do with the shamelessness of Mitt than the significance of Donald. And as the election wound down and his name seldom mentioned, Donald knew he had to do one last thing to throw himself into the spotlight making his big “announcement” less than two weeks before the election.
Being his friend I don’t even want to talk about the aftermath. I can usually associate life scenes from old or obscure movies and this time, two came to mind. The first was from “Sunset Boulevard” at the end where the aging Gloria Swanson let Mr. DeMille know she was ready for her close-up when the only interest in her was for her car. The second was from “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” again at the end when Betty Davis was being driven away from a crowd and reporters, smiling when all around her just thought her sad. For those who haven’t seen those movies, just understand that Donald has become what he would have least desired… the joke. Fortunate is he that he has been spared the shame of the depths of his fall. I don’t want to watch this story’s conclusion when he’ll inevitably start approaching strangers and asking “Don’t you know who I am?” I brushed away a tear while writing this because the Donald I once knew is alas no more!