His Totally Excellency

16 03 2010

Am slated to interview the president of a country today. A freaking country! I’ve never interviewed a head of state before, and as I automatically devolve in specie in the face of formal discourse, I’m a little nervous.

My boss has told me to call him “His Excellency,” but I’ve never said that name to anyone, with or without irony, and I’m pretty sure I’d say it with a dumb grin on my face and the nagging urge to twirl and curtsey and salute, in that order. I’ve thus decided to call him “Mr. President,” which I’m guessing is perfectly respectful and will make me sound like the trusty aide in a natural disaster-apocalyptic action movie.

It’s also assignments like these that make me appraise the state of my fingernails. Today, they are chewed down to the quick, yet are also ragged enough to draw blood. My clothes also need proper brushing before I meet him, as I am usually sheathed in a film of Bread Pan bread crumbs after lunch. I basically need to not look like myself in order to look halfway presentable, and since this is wholly unfeasible at the moment, I will just have to hope that he’s a nice dude. Fortunately, he looks kind of like Kurt Vonnegut, at least based on what I could Google of him, which just might mean that it’s okay if I look haggard as long as I’m not fascist.

Amidst everything, though, my greatest weakness is my inability to look sincere, which applies to most of my interviews. I believe I am a good enough interviewer, but during those times when I express true delight or concern regarding my subject’s experiences, there are suddenly these clouds in my eyes and this twang in my voice that makes me seem all patronizing. It’s especially bad when my subjects start crying to me. It’s like I just glaze over. It’s probably a defense mechanism, but that doesn’t make it less annoying for anyone involved. I mean, I’ve gotten used to being generally dismissed as a cold bitch, but when I want to tell someone how sorry I am that their husband died and I can’t even say it right, it’s a huge problem. Hopefully, Mr. President doesn’t show me pictures of his grandkids.

UPDATE: Just got back from the interview. Interrupted him a couple of times because of my nerves, but that didn’t seem to faze him. I did feel yucky, however, when he mentioned how our government was so nice and I agreed too enthusiastically, as if tazered. Or briefly electrocuted by the huge, flashing neon sign above my head that read: LIAR LIAR LIAR LIAR.

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