I had to do a double take in the sparsely populated lobby outside the Congressional Dinner Wednesday night at The Hill’s after party.
Was it Charlie Sheen? Of course not. Sheen’s in rehab. This was Slate’s David Weigel. Hair trimmed. Relatively tidy. Dark suit. White button-down. Chatting with Ron Bonjean, who runs a public affairs firm, and NYP‘s Geoff Earle, I lost track of the wiley Weigel. When I turned back — poof!– he was gone. Where did that rascal go?
Later he resurfaced. A partygoer (the one who convinced me to approach him at last summer’s HuffPost Party again persuaded me to see if the ice had thawed.)
I approached with mild trepidation (read: not enough to rethink doing it) with a party publicist. Weigel was asked if he wanted to “meet her friend,” meaning me. He said emphatically, “No.”
But there we were. I have no ill will toward the guy and he’s undoubtedly one of FishbowlDC’s staple characters – even if he has coldly blocked me on Twitter. I wanted to see if we talk one human being to another. I didn’t reach my hand out this time (the last time was met with icy handshake refusal.) This time I peppered Weigel with questions. I’m going out on a limb here to say this was marked improvement. We had never reached the talking stage.
Me: So what do you think of Olbermann’s new gig?
Him: I haven’t thought about it. I don’t think about him.
Me: Really, why not? (My voice infused with serious surprise considering how many times Weigel has appeared on the ex-MSNBC host’s “Countdown” program.)
Him: I’m focused on C-PAC this week.
Me: What are you most looking forward to seeing at C-PAC?
Him: [Shakes his head] Nothing.
Him: You should talk to someone else about this.
Him: Because I talk to people other than you and you talk to people other than me. …Pathetic.
Me: What’s pathetic?
Me: No really, what’s pathetic?
Him: [Grumbling noise. Can’t make out the words.]
Me: But we’ve never had an actual conversation. This is our first.
Him: We’ve talked on email.
Me: We have. But I don’t consider that an actual conversation.
Him: Blank stare.
This is sticky…
He doesn’t walk away and neither do I. But the woman who tried to introduce us is getting visibly itchy watching the two of us engage in this bizarre battle of non-engagement engagement. I nearly feel for her, but I can’t walk away just yet. Neither Weigel nor I are scene starters. But we’re not cowards either. She physically attempts to separate us with a sort of body block even though nothing really bad is happening. That in itself was awkward.
Friendlier faces several feet away soon draw me over.
Is the peace process underway? Oh, doubtful. But what the future holds is anyone’s guess.