Monday, January 21, 2008

"Two Men Look Out A Window...One Sees Mud, One Sees Stars," --- Oscar Wilde

Walb Memorial Student Union
Photo Credit: IPFW Web Site

October 15, 1991 - Should have been a regular fall day but it was not. We were all busy that day preparing the Walb Memorial Union Ballroom for the mayoral debate between current Mayor Paul Helmke and his democratic challenger, Charlie Belch.

While my friends Janet Ausbury (IPSGA right hand woman) and Mike Wills (IPSGA Senator extraordinaire) were ensuring that the meat of the questions were coming together, I was in my office (Walb 224?) juggling the phone calls of local reporters.

The people who served (whether they liked it or not) as my surrogate parents -

Marian Adair Zimmerman, Dean of Students and Bill Frederick, Presiding Officer for the IPFW Faculty Senate and the two men who kept the campus on its toes - Steve Hollander (Prof - English) and

Mike Downs (Chair - Political Science) checked in on me to make sure that everything was going smoothly.

As the evening grew near, everything seemed to be under control. I thought that my biggest issue was about which dress I was going to wear to the event (p.s. - the more "grown-up" version won - it was red/white/blue - I kid you not).

I had responsibility to greet the candidates, introduce them to the audience, ensure that the place didn't get out of control during the formal debate, and then, wrap it up at the end.

A girl had to look good. And yes Virginia - everything had shoulder pads.

The moderator, Victor Locke, arrived.

You're going to laugh. I was a bit star-struck by Victor because I literally grew up listening to him on WOWO and then I watched him daily on WPTA 21Alive. He spent time with the appropriate individuals getting to know the logistics. Always the one who has the appearance of being under control, I was in admiration mode when I met him.

Mr. Belch and his entourage were the first to arrive. I walked with them to their official green room, making small talk along the way.

Mayor Helmke arrived soon thereafter and while he was polite and cordial, his handlers were keeping his busy so the small talk? Not so much.

Although I have extremely strong opinions about issues which are bantered about by the politician of the week, my head wasn't in that space that night. As the hostess with the most-ess, I was all about the guests - the logistics - and keeping to the time schedule.

With only a short time before kick-off, I stopped by Mr. Belch's room to ensure that he had what he needed before going on. Some question was asked by one of his campaign DUDES - something about the questions that were being asked and the order in which they would be asked. That was too detailed for me. There were two students that were appointed by the Student Senate from two separate Student Organizations and they were tasked with working with a group of individuals to come up with the questions. Beyond that - I didn't know if they were being asked in random order or if they were being grouped together by a theme...

As I started to open my mouth to say someone's name (who would obviously know more details than me), Senator X (who still to this day - wishes to remain nameless) - came rushing in to tell me that Paul was here and it was urgent that he speak to me.

This was most excellent news. With about fifteen minutes to spare, my friend Paul had manage to pick up my shoes from Glenbrook - the pair I had ordered - and they went perfectly with the dress I was wearing. This was a huge load off of my mind. I was concerned that I would have to wear these shoes with these tremendous high heels that didn't have any traction on the bottom of them. I surely didn't want to be poked fun at in The Communicator next week!

I smiled and said to Senator 'X', can you please ask Paul to meet me up in my office? I'll be there in just a few minutes.

When I turned back to talk to Mr. Belch and his entourage, I was met with the following:


Huh? I just looked at him. Stunned and confused look on my face. I didn't know what to say. I had never been yelled at by a mayoral candidate.

No sir I said.

And then I pretended that he had random Tourette's Syndrome and I pulled Mike W. over to answer Mr. Belch's logistical questions.

With eight minutes left to spare, I high-tailed it upstairs to my office and thankfully, Paul and my shoes were waiting for me. I swapped out bad heels with good heels and ran back down to start the show.

It wasn't until I was getting ready to wrap up the event (debate) that it finally hit me - Charlie Belch thought that I was meeting PAUL HELMKE up in my office. I started giggling uncontrollably and I came thisclose to being unable to perform my closing remarks duties.

After it was over, Senator 'X' and I laughed until we nearly pee'd our pants.

So you know the rest of the story - Helmke went on to win.


KurtGLMFT said...

Kristina, I especially loved this post for obvious reasons. No wonder you didnt want to contact Mr. Belch directly...and now I remember him! Yes it was 224, I think "B" specifically. Of course I'm not going to disclose anything like your story b/c I still live here, but I did scare the bejeezus out of the janitorial staff one night when I fell asleep on the couch in that office...a few years before you had it.