People Notice

Talking of that one guy not laughing when everyone else is in stitches reminds me of something a high-level crime fighter once told me . And I do mean high-level: as in worked for Scotland Yard.

He told me that people are pretty amazing when it comes to noticing things that don’t fit the pattern. That’s what helps the cops track down the criminals.

It could be that guy who lives with his grouchy mother. He usually comes out of his house at 8am on the dot, buys a paper at the newsstand and walks north. Only this one day he didn’t come out until 9.

AND he was dragging something heavy.

AND chuckling to himself.

OK too obvious an example maybe but here’s a thing I noticed almost 12 years ago during the inauguration of George W. Bush. I noticed that Dick Cheney didn’t sing the National Anthem.

George sang along. Laura sang. Everybody up there sang along but this Cheney guy who just looked somberly straight ahead.

What did it mean I remember wondering?

We didn’t know much about Bush back then. Would he be open and good-natured, or would he tend more toward caution and secrecy? Would he hold grudges and fence himself off like a man in a stockade, or would he be able to let go of grievance, seeing people as they really are, filled to the brim with every sort of impulse, from high to low?

I remember wondering this about Former Present Bush that day as he and Laura and the girls got ready to take up residence in that satin-pillowed jail, as former Bush and Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan once described the White House (and she ought to know since she worked there for three years.)

I remember silently wishing him the best. But mostly I remember the cold withholding feeling I sensed coming from that man who served as his vice president.

And for all we have learned or not learned about him in the years since – from his book, his utterances, his actions – I still wonder: why didn’t he behave like a team player that day and sing along when they played our national anthem ?

I’m not saying it has great meaning. I’m just saying…… I noticed.