Thursday, March 11, 2010

Massa Tickles, Richardson Headlocks

Somehow I never figured that our governor would end up in a national publication's discussion of the Rep. Eric Massa saga.

But this piece in The Atlantic by reporter Marc Armbinder tickled my interest.

Former Rep. Eric Massa's description of tickle fights in his office reminded me of my own brush with powerful men and their wandering hands.When I was a cub reporter for the Harvard Crimson, I attended a 1999 Democratic primary debate between Al Gore and Bill Bradley. The then-Vice President had asked several cabinet secretaries to attend the event as his surrogates. After the debate ended, I approached the Secretary of Education, a genial man named Richard Riley, and asked for his impressions.

After I had identified myself, Riley reached out his right arm and proceeded to tickle me in the Pillsbury dough boy-style. Then, he answered my question. A few moments later, I walked up to the Secretary of Energy, Bill Richardson. Same scenario. I identified myself as a reporter with the Crimson. Richardson proceeded to put me in a headlock. Then he answered my question.

I wasn't sure if there was an epidemic of personal space violation virus in the Cabinet -- I had to make the connection at the time to the president's imbroglio with an intern -- or whether my slightly pudgy body type and earnest college newspaper mannerisms invited these powerful, heterosexual men to grope and grab at me. I was, to say the least, amused. Richardson, I later learned, was touchy-feely by nature.

For the record, Richardson has never attempted to put me in a headlock.