Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration, passed away this week. Unlike some of you nobodies, I actually knew Casper Weinberger. Well, I waited on him once.
I waited on Caspar in the spring of 2002 at an exclusive golf club in the Beverly Hills area. Up until very recently, blacks and Jews and I assume black Jews, were not allowed to become members. President Reagan (and Nancy) were members during this time. So was (and still is) Buzz Aldrin, astronaut extraordinaire and his wife, who has a small clutch purse with an image of a full moon on it. The moon on her bag encrusted in diamonds; which leads me to believe that Buzz never went to outer space because he should be embarrassed by the inaccuracy of his wife’s bag. Another true prerequisite of being a member of this club was that you could not be “new money”, no internet start-up guys or most actors allowed. At some point someone in your lineage had to have owned a slave or a food conglomerate, like Hershey.
Anyway Caspar and other former members of Reagan’s cabinet and current advisors to GW Bush had a meeting in a small but stately oak room. The room looked like something out of Disneyworld’s Haunted Mansion. There were actually painted books on the wall. I always pressed the wall to see if it turned into a secret chamber, but I guess I didn’t press hard enough.
I had to stand outside the door of this private dinner meeting with tray caddies, waiting for the opportune moment when I could clear their plates and set down more for coffee.
I couldn’t hear anything they were saying. But I was told that it was a high-level meeting where they were drawing up plans for the war on terror, which had begun in Afghanistan, but not yet begun in Iraq. So I’m sure there was some shade-y stuff going on, such as “How do we fool America into Iraq?”
I got the okay to re-enter and I began clearing plates. Everyone was silent. Then, Caspar started talking about some big plan. I don’t know what he was saying but something like, “Okay, well let’s reconvene on this.” And another important dude said, “Caspar, um, shouldn’t we wait until the room is clear?” Caspar looked around. “No. Let’s just finish up before” Important Dude said, “Until the young lady has cleared up?” Meaning, “Stop revealing government secrets in front of this waitress!”
To which Caspar replied, “Ah, she doesn’t understand what’s being said.” He said this as I poured his coffee. I thought to myself, “That’s rude. I mean I’m no policy wonk but I think I understand English and war plans!” And he looked up at me and said, “Gracias.”
Oh. He literally thought that I didn’t speak English. Whether or not I look Spanish, Mexican or exotic is not the point. He assumed that anyone in this great country who is in a service position can’t possibly be white.
This was true of everyone at the country club. I had red-nosed; (their sweat smelled like gin), men in pink plaid pants and pinky rings always telling me that they’re going to set me up with their sons so that I could quit my job. “Would you like that, honey? Would ya?” And they’d laugh with their cronies at the table, “Ah ha ha ha.” See, the joke being that their sons, wouldn’t be allowed to date me, since I am from the lower class. It would be a fun experiment, like “Let’s see how a poor girl does it.” But that’s it.
A waitress did end up marrying a member one time and she was shunned by her new husband’s friends. She was not allowed to attend dinner parties held at the country club. She was only tolerated for iced tea on the terrace above the practice green with people who had never known her as a waitress.
God Bless America, folks! RIP Caspar, you man of the people, you!