Dec. 12th, 2015

prosodic: (Charlie Brown tree)
It didn't become real to me until we pulled up to a guard shack and a member of the Secret Service checked our IDs. That's when my stomach dropped. Once he checked our IDs against the guest list, he directed us to the parking lot. From there, we boarded a shuttle bus. In a short while, we were here.



We were given a ticket with our names on it to hand to the official White House photographer. (This is why you'll see no photo here of us with the Bidens - we have to wait until it's processed and emailed to us...48 hours.) At that point, we ended up in a line that snaked around the wrap-around porch. There was Christmas music and a beverage station set up serving hot cider. The Red Cross was there with blank holiday cards that we could fill out for the deployed troops.

We seemed to be in line for ages. At one point, I snuck into the house to find the restroom (I wasn't the only one). The restroom was incredibly posh, as you'd probably expect. The paper towels even had the Vice President's seal on them.

We moved up and up and up through the line. At one point, I came around a corner and saw Jill Biden. Someone was obstructing my view of Joe, but then that person moved and there he was. I might have had a mild freak out at that moment.

Next thing I know, someone is taking our ticket. Someone else offered to take my purse. We heard our names announced, "MSgt. Lance Johnson and Mrs. Karyn Johnson." Jill Biden reached out and took my hand and thanked me for coming. Then Joe, the man himself, approached me and came so close that we were almost nose to nose. He thanked me for coming. He looked at Lance and said, "Hey Buddy! Good to see you! Thank you for your service." Next thing I know, his arm is around my waist and he pulled me close for a photo. I remember being kind of stiff and thinking that I probably looked awkward and tense, but it was too late. The camera clicked and we were shuffled off (someone handed me my purse as we left). Lance told me later that he wasn't prepared either. I can't wait to see what this photo will look like. We're probably going to look awkward as hell, but everyone we talked to had a similar experience.

Once we moved into the reception area, my legs started shaking. So badly that I almost had to sit down. I ran into another spouse that I know from Lance's squadron. We made a little small talk and she indicated that the breakfast buffet was in the adjoining room.



Coffee! Blessed coffee. Quiche, scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh fruit, pastries. A separate table with platters of assorted cookies. Servers with trays of mimosas and bloody marys...other servers coming around with tiny sausage biscuit sliders and tiny grilled cheese sandwiches.









We stayed for a bit and talked to Lance's co-workers. I had 3 mimosas and may have accidentally spilled some of the third one on the Bidens' beautiful hardwood floor. We were only supposed to stay for an hour - every attendee had a scheduled time to be there and our scheduled time was 9:30 to 10:30. But we ended up staying for 2 hours.

When we finally decided to leave, the shuttle bus was waiting. We were handed a parting gift:



Awesome glasses, but I kind of wished I had gotten what was passed out to the kids. All the kids who attended got a plush version of Champ, the Bidens' German Shepherd. Super cute.

I consider the day a success. I was not rendered incapable of coherent speech. I did not trip, burp, cough, sneeze, or drool in front of the Vice President. Lance admitted to me that he was also worried about making an ass of himself, but thankfully we didn't really have time for that. It happened so fast.

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Karyn

December 2015

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