Ivanka and Me
I haven’t spent much time in Charleston, West Virginia. A few trips to the Capitol and Cultural Center, a few Special Olympics competitions, a wedding, a protest. I’d heard about Taylor Books, the city’s famous book store. “You’ve got to go there. You’d love it.” My friends said. But I’d never had time.
In October, I had my chance. I was in Charleston for West Virginia Book Fest. Sharing a billing with capital W Writers. Whee! I was thrilled to find a copy of John O’Brien’s At Home in the Heart of Appalachia and buy it from George Brosi, a bookseller who’s an expert on mountain culture. I listened to the wise Meredith Sue Willis, a West Virginia native and prolific author, talk about writing. I didn’t have plans for Friday evening, but when I learned that West Virginia’s poet laureate Marc Harshman was doing a reading at Taylor Books it seemed like the perfect introduction to the place. I had met Marc a couple of times and I love his work. His new book, Woman in Red Anorak, just won the 20th Annual Blue Lynx Prize.
My goal was to get something to eat before the reading. Although it was an easy walk from my hotel, I had gotten a late start, so I hustled through the gloom and rain. A police car on the little street the bookstore was on had its lights flashing but I didn’t see anything going on. No one moving fast. There were a couple big black SUVs parked nearby but I had just gotten back from New York City where those vehicles are ubiquitous.
I walked into the bookstore and headed straight for the café in the next room. I was hungry and hoped they had soup. Before I got in line I shopped for cards. I love cards – words and pictures that you share with friends. I found a bunch to add to my collection. While turning the rack, I noticed a woman sitting in a booth to my right. She had long, long platinum hair and serious eye makeup. In fact she was wearing lots of makeup. I tried not to stare. What a talented impersonator. She really looks like Ivanka Trump, I thought to myself. She sat in the middle of the curved bench, the light on her head sort of a halo. She looked like an Ice Princess.
I bought a bowl of clam chowder and a cup of tea and claimed a nearby table that faced the booth the Ivanka had claimed. A little sign on my table suggested that customers pay for merchandise before eating. I ignored it, but carefully stacked the cards and books away from the liquids. I got out my phone and started returning texts and emails. I looked up and was puzzled by the pair of men sitting between me and the Ivanka impersonator. I didn’t think Taylors was the kind of place businessmen frequented on their way home on Friday, but, hey, I was in unfamiliar territory.
Marc and a few other writers arrived and suggested I join them at a bigger table behind me. “Let me pay for these cards first,” I said, and moved my tea to their table.
At the cash register in the next room, a friendly clerk took my credit card. A man and a couple of teenagers came rushing in the door. “Is she still here?” He seemed excited.
I looked at the clerk. “That’s the real Ivanka in there?” I gestured with my head toward the other room. “Holy shit! Really?” I shook my head. I had been a real journalist! Now I was just an idiot who had ignored the police lights, the SUVs, the Secret Service and the actual person in front of me. The famous person. The daughter of the president of the United States. The daughter of a man I hate. I don’t hate many people but I hate liars. I pointed to a pin on my orange jacket. It showed a screaming Donald Trump and the words “Another day, another WTF.”
“If I had known that was the real Ivanka, I might have yelled at her,” I said.
“I’m glad you didn’t,” the clerk said. “But they’re not letting anyone get close to her.”
I took a good look at Ivanka in the corner before I joined the writers’ table. “That’s the real Ivanka,” I said, leaning close. “I thought it was an impersonator!” We all laughed self-consciously. The room seemed lit with a strange energy.
“Why is she here?” Marc asked.
“I don’t know,” I said, “but I’m pretty disappointed that the Secret Service took one look at me and decided I wasn’t a threat!” I picked up my phone and took a few quick selfies.
I shared the photo with a few friends and my husband, who suggested I sell her my book. I did not.
This appeared in the Oct. 26 Charleston Gazette-Mail with a photo captioned TWITTER | Courtesy photo.
Ivanka Trump, eldest daughter of President Donald Trump, was in West Virginia Friday after visiting job training centers in eastern Kentucky.
Trump, who also serves as an adviser in the White House, stopped by Taylor Books, in Charleston, Friday evening, according to a post on Twitter.
“Stranded by the rain in West Virginia ... missing dinner with the kids but I won’t come home empty handed — we found an amazing book store!” she posted along with a short video clip of herself with children’s books in the Capitol St. bookstore.
A woman at the bookstore said Trump was drinking coffee and listening to local musician Steve Himes.
I’m glad I didn’t yell at Ivanka Trump. That would have been rude. Most West Virginians are polite and I would be ashamed to cause anyone to think otherwise.
My own father was a Republican. We often argued about politics but I knew I would never change his mind. Eventually I stopped trying. But my father was a good man. Ivanka Trump’s father is not.