Then Gier arrived with her boys and mimicked how she had waved as they drove past the reporters and photographers who slumped, bored, in the driveway. It was time for Mark's press conference, and we all crammed into my bedroom, some holding hands as we watched Mark enter the Capitol rotunda. He walked, distracted and guilty, to the podium, squirming, not knowing how to begin. Frannie is the type who likes to ask questions and she started up. I had to caution her that I wanted to hear every word. We were somber and a little frightened as Mark started to ramble. He spent considerable time -- it seemed like an eternity -- apologizing to everyone in his life, every citizen of the state, people of faith all over the world. Then he revealed the state of his heart. He described days spent crying in Argentina with his lover.
I still don't quite know why I wanted to hear every syllable, but it felt important to bear witness to this in real time, to hear what the watching public was hearing. That said, I am grateful to this day that I can't remember much of it. While it was going on, I was in such shock, it felt as though this was happening to someone else. I wished that were true. Out the bedroom window, I saw a bright orange container ship heading out to sea on its way to Turkey or China. What I wouldn't have given to be on it!
Finally, no longer able to stand the sight of Mark pining away with tears streaming down his face, Kathy looked at Lalla Lee and said exactly what all of us were thinking, "Will you call someone and tell them to please pull him away from that camera?" Lalla Lee called Chris Allen to suggest this, but the press conference did not end.
As Mark carried on, Kathy moaned, "Let's just end this!" As if taking a cue from his vocal sister- in- law, Mark did finally finish, but then the commentators began talking about "another politician who cheated on his wife." Wronged Political Spouses is a list no one wants to be on, but now my name would be featured there. Immediately my cell phone rang. It was Mark. Lalla returned to the kitchen to handle the house phone and Frannie went too, to make dinner. I took the call on the porch.
"How'd I do?" he asked.
"Are you kidding me? You cried for her and said little of me or of the boys." I guess he'd forgotten I was not the one to praise this performance.
We hung up, and I went to the study above my bedroom for some privacy. I wanted to say something, to respond, to react, even though I knew that was not the usual protocol followed by betrayed political wives. I'd already missed the part in this ritual where I would stand with head bowed next to him in front of hundreds of cameras as he made his shameful admission. (If I'd been there, perhaps he'd have gotten off the stage sooner.) I had never considered myself a traditional political spouse, though, and this wasn't the moment to start being one. I had been working on a statement.