Whatever else she has learned along the way, Monica Samille Lewinsky has long seemed mindful of the aphorism that one never gets a second chance to make a first impression. Certainly, she made a vivid first impression on Bill Clinton, and the rest is history.
So how will Lewinsky grab the attention of readers when "Monica's Story" goes on sale? What will her opening line or passages be? Consider these "first drafts of history" recovered from the hard disk of a computer in a location we dare not disclose:
Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again -- in my Maidenform bra.
When I was one and twenty
I heard a wise man say
Give pounds and crowns and guineas -- and ties, and funny little books about golf, and maybe a volume of Jewish witticisms --
But not your heart away
'Tis paid with sound bites aplenty,
And sold for millions in endless rue
And I am five-and-twenty
And Oh 'tis true, 'tis true.
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
That's exactly what I was thinking when I lifted my jacket to show my thong underwear to the leader of the free world.
Whenever people bring up the thong underwear, the trysts in the Oval Office with the president, the phone sex, the cigar, the stained Gap dress, the shrieking scenes at the White House security entrance and the ensuing national scandal that riveted the nation and led to the first presidential impeachment trial in 131 years, my response is: "Hey, can't a girl have some fun anymore?"
Typing and filing, typing and filing -- boy, does that get old after a while.
A few weeks into my new job as a White House intern, I decided I needed a little change of pace.
Wednesday, Nov. 19, 1997
154 lbs (v.v. bad); calories 3,298 (oy vey); thoughts about Handsome, 356; new thoughts on education reform, 2 (must write Handsome!); presents, phone calls, anything received from Handsome, 0 (v.v. pathetic).
7.01 p.m. Trying on clothes for Thanksgiving. Grrr, skinny cousins will be there. The Smug Married too. The navy blue dress, yesssss! But, gaaaah what's that? Spinach dip? Oh, wait, I remember now ...
7.12 p.m. Oh goody, phone! It's Linda. Funny, she asks me what I'm going to wear for Thanksgiving. Tell her, the navy blue dress, but it has, you know, on it.
"Well, how, you're, what, you're gonna get it cleaned?" Linda says.
Well, of course, I say. Like I'd wear it with the splodge right there.
Today, when I look at my diary from back then, I think: Would Bridget Jones have had the dress cleaned?
Knowing him as I did, in a way few others have (OK, more than a few), I must tell you this. I have never before been swept up in such a torrent of emotions. Longing. Loss.
Love, too. I didn't think love at first sight existed. Not until I met him. Do you believe in it? After hearing my story, you might.
Too soon, of course, it ended, as all great loves seem to. Remember "Titanic"? I once compared that love story to mine and Handsome's. Pundits and politicians have said much about me lately, while I've had to sit back, lips sealed, waiting for my turn. Please, put aside whatever you might think of me, and listen to my story -- and read between the lines.
It was the best of ties, it was the worst of ties, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Navy, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of bad hair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us. But we weren't going to Heaven.
I remember how it all began. It was a bright and sunny day when I arrived in Washington, an ernest if pneumatic girl from California with little more to her name than eight credit cards, a good Coach purse and a dog-eared copy of the Kama Sutra. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't know just how hard...
Once upon a time, there was a king who lived in a big white house.
The king should have been very happy. He had twice defeated the evil Republican empire. The royal vaults were filled with gold. The multitudes cheered him in the streets. But, alas, the king was not happy. He was very sad.
"Why so glum?" asked his loyal friend, Algore.
"Because I lost my magical sword," the king replied. "The queen will not help me find it. I fear it is gone forever."
Days passed, then weeks, and the king remained morose. A sad king is a weak king, so the evil Republicans attacked by shutting down the kingdom. The royal vault was locked. The sheriff's deputy -- Sir Kenneth the Righteous -- kept knocking on the castle gate, threatening to overthrow the king. The multitudes were frightened. The king, meanwhile, sat paralyzed on his darkened throne, when he heard this:
"I will help you."
"And who are you?"
"I come from the valley to the west. I am the fair maiden. Your friend Vernon from the Royal Links sent me."
The king smiled. "How can you help?" he asked.
"I bring you food from Italy -- pepperoni, right? -- and undergarments from the Bikini Islands and mint candies from Prince Altoid on the Isle of Halitosis. And ..."
The fair maiden blushed. "I can find the magical sword. I will save the kingdom. My evil stepsister, Linda the Creepette, says I shouldn't, but I don't trust her anyway."
The king clapped his hands, bit his lower lip and yelled something that to the fair maiden sounded similar to a razorback's squeal.
"I don't know how to thank you," the king said.
"Well, you've heard of the Kingdom of Revlon, haven't you?" the fair maiden asked.
"When I'm done here, it's mine."
Chapter Two: Distinguishing Characteristics
Sun staff writers Kevin Cowherd, Ken Fuson, Laura Lippman, Jean Marbella, Richard O'Mara, Sarah Pekkanen and Norine Schiller contributed to this article. We extend our sincere apologies to Daphne du Maurier, A. E. Housman, Henry David Thoreau, Helen Fielding, Charles Dickens and conspiracy buffs everywhere.
"Spin Cycle: Inside the Clinton Propaganda Machine" (Simon & Schuster, $18, 3 hours, abridged). Most of this book, written in 1997 by Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media critic, deals with how the Clinton team handled the Whitewater scandal and allegations of campaign finance irregularities.
"The Clinton Enigma: A Four-and-a-Half Minute Speech Reveals This President's Entire Life" (Pocket, $20, 3 1/2 hours, unabridged). David Maraniss has won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on Bill Clinton and wrote an acclaimed biography of the president. Here he offers an analysis of Clinton's handling of the sex scandal. His book is part biography and part psychological interpretation of the August speech in which the president acknowledged his relationship with Monica Lewinsky and conceded that "it was wrong."
"The Death of Outrage: Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals" (Simon & Schuster, $18, 3 hours, abridged). William J. Bennett brings his position as America's scold to bear on Bill Clinton in "The Death of Outrage." He sees Clinton as the embodiment of immorality.
Pub Date: 2/24/99