the 41st president of the united states yelled at me for making him look bad on tv…

…which, to be fair, I kind of did.

It’s 4:30 AM as I walk toward him, cold enough to see the steam rising from his coffee at a dozen paces. Less than two years out of office, George Herbert Walker Bush doesn’t need to introduce himself of course. That would inevitably come off as condescending, and that’s not his style.  (He does however introduce  me to the member of his security contingent who’d be accompanying me. “This is Keith” was about the sum of it.)

I’m just saying that when 41 extends his hand and smiles, and his first words to you are, “Ready to go fishing?” — your heart skips a beat as you second guess yourself about how firm is firmly enough to shake his hand, and you smile back and say, “Yes sir, Mr. President. I sure am.”

And you try not to smile too big. You don’t want to look like a starstruck idiot. Sure, he was the leader of the free world just 20 months ago, but here, now, two hours before sunrise, you’re just a couple of guys going fishing. Except one of you is the 41st President Of The United States, and it ain’t you.

It turns out that being president isn’t conducive to good fishing, and now that he’s off the clock, the first President Bush has a score to settle with some bonefish.

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“before i forget: don’t wear any underwear.”

“Before I forget: don’t wear any underwear.”

That’s what my contact was telling me to prep me for my first helicopter ride.

“What? Why?”

“If the helicopter crashes, your flight suit will keep things from catching on fire, but it can get hot enough to melt the rubber in your waistband. It’d burn right through you. Slice you in half.”

Makes sense, I thought as a I hung up.

Wait — keep THINGS from catching on fire? Which things? Why were we talking about my underwear again?

I began to think that this was all a ploy to distract me from “if the helicopter crashes.” It wasn’t working, but alligators all of a sudden didn’t sound so scary. They could tear enormous chunks out of my flesh, but it’s not like they could slice me in half with burning rubber.

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