“White House, how may I direct your call?”
“Hi! Can I speak to Jimmy, please?” I said into the telephone.
The year was 1977 and I was fourteen-years-old. Jimmy Carter had just been elected President of the United States.
I loved Jimmy. I loved his big teeth and big smile. I loved his accent. I loved peanuts. So, on Thanksgiving Day, I decided to call the White House and tell him how much I loved him.
me at 14
“I’m calling long distance,” I said. “Can I talk to Jimmy?”
“May I ask who is calling?” said a very professional woman on the other end.
“You can tell him Layce is calling,” I said.
“I am sorry, but President Carter is unavailable.”
“Oh. Well, can I speak to Roz then?”
“She is also unavailable.”
“Okay,” I said. “How about Amy?”
“The entire Carter family is at Lillian’s house for Thanksgiving,” the woman said. (A little snottily, I thought.)
“Maybe I should call her house. Do you have that number?”
“I do not.” (No doubt about it now. She was being snotty.)
“Can you give Jimmy a message for me?”
“What is the message?”
“Tell him I have a friend who has a dog and every time you say the name Jimmy Carter, the dog smiles. And, if you happen to see Billy, tell him I have a can of Billy Beer. It’s unopened, of course. I’m going to save it for posterity’s sake. And tell them all Happy Thanksgiving from me.”
There was a long pause.
“Did you get all that?” I asked.
“Yes. Please do not call back,” she said and hung up.
I didn’t call back. In fact now that I think about it, I’ve probably been on some kind of CIA watchlist since 1977.
I drank the Billy Beer sometime during the Reagan administration. But I still have the can.