I was invited to a White House dinner in honor of Eunice Kennedy Shriver because of my book, Making Peace With Autism, and my writings about Special Olympics. The trip was like a dream, the pinnacle of my career as a writer thus far. Our hotel was beautiful and also kind of cool, with its federal-meets-hip-contemporary-sixties-air.
After some fretting about the wrinkles my gown had acquired on the flight, we got dressed. Took a cab there and were stopped by Secret Service, who did not have Ned on the list. Turns out he was listed as "Ned Senator!"
Walked in and immediately saw Tim Shriver, who had invited me. There was a small reception where I met Barbara Walters, Tim Russert, Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, Eunice Shriver, and several World Games S.O. Athletes.
Then, onto meeting the Prez and his wife, and W and I joked a little about how it was hard to remember protocol like where to stand in a formal photo. (I had not paid attention to Secret Service's instructions. The President said, "It's hard to remember these things, isn't it?") I liked that he was so quick to put me at my ease. I'm still a total raving liberal Dem, however...
Dinner followed. All spouses were split up; I was at Maria Shriver's table, Ned was at Mark Shriver's. Eunice gave a wonderful speech about starting S.O. that brought tears to my eyes, thinking about Natty.
I made good friends with Leonard Flowers, who was in the movie "The Ringer," and was seated on my left. A really good guy, who shunned his chilled avocado soup (I wanted to eat his bowl, too, but restrained myself). Sighed in ecstasy over the chocolate S.O. medals stuck in Eunice Shriver's birthday cake!
The best part, aside from seeing Ned in a tux, was the after party with the Shrivers and some S.O. people at the St. Regis!