We arrived in Washington, DC on Wednesday night. Those who know me also know
I would rather have a root canal sans Novocain than fly. I hate flying more than some
people hate their golddigger exes. However, I would have walked to Washington, DC
to meet Julie Hiatt Steele, and nothing was going to stand in my way.

I am very thankful that we made it to the Vietnam Wall. My husband had been
there before because my father-in-law is a Vietnam vet, and took their family when
the Wall was originally dedicated. I wore a POW/MIA bracelet for fifteen years,
and my guy never came back. I wasn't ready for the gutwrenching grief in the air
in such a gorgeous setting. I was speechless while observing a couple of stands
run by vets, selling bumper stickers, lapel pins, and patches. I don't know how
they do it; we passed some high school students on the paths who were acting
like they were at Disneyland. I put my palms on the Wall. I wanted to howl with
fury at so many lives, socruelly snuffed out.

1st Lieutenant Clive Jeffs, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you.
I'll be back, and next time, I'll bring flowers, and sit with you for awhile.

After a trip to the Air and Space Museum, Eric and I went to meet other
BartCoppers for the "Crossfire" taping. The "Crossfire" folks were very nice
to us for the most part, but I was worrying over whether or not we would end
up with a sufficient amount of tickets for all who wanted to attend.
Luckily, there were several people who managed to obtain their own tickets
via e-mail, so I later estimated there were most likely 30+ BartCoppers in
the audience that night. The show itself was interesting, but of course, we
can't go anywhere quietly, can we?

Tucker Carlson wanted to play with the liberals, and he got the red-ass on a
number of occasions during the commercial breaks. I'm proud to say that my
DH, Eric, was one of those administering the smackdown to Bow Tie Boy.
When Carlson proclaimed to the audience that he "bet $20" that Steno Sue
from the Washington Post is a registered Democrat, Eric shouted, "Tucker, I'll
take that bet!" At the next break, Tucker thought he'd answer some audience
questions. Since he had been maligning Al Gore, I asked him when he was
going to have Al Gore on the program to defend himself. Tucker said something
about Al Gore's being a "loser," and I shot back, "A loser who won the election
by half a million votes." Tucker quickly tired of playing with the Benjamin family,
and restricted his comments to those closer to the stage. It didn't help him.

We made our way back to the Marriott after the taping, and managed to locate
several BartCoppers in the bar. The crowd continued to grow, and we noticed
a tableful in the corner, watching the group. To our amazement, a woman from
the aforementioned tableful approached us and introduced herself. It was Christian!
She then told us that BartCop and Julie were on their way downstairs, and if we
would stay, we'd meet them.

I could never explain what it's like to meet Julie Hiatt Steele, but I'm going to have
to do my best. Julie looks like she couldn't stand up to a strong wind. She's probably
5'2" and weighs less than a hundred pounds soaking wet. She's tiny, but she has the
heart of a lion. Of course, we gave the lady a standing ovation. She made her way
to the table in the corner, and those from our table slowly started grouping around
theirs. Drinks were consumed, and people started to talk. I also could never explain to
anyone but other BartCoppers how wonderful it was to meet an entire group of
people who were so happy to see each other!

BartCop, of course, is a cross between Ben Affleck and Sean Connery. He's
happy to stay in the background, but it was tremendous to meet him. He had
Mrs. BartCop with him, a quiet, shy, lovely woman. It's obvious that he's
still nuts about her, twenty-five years later.

The Marriott evidently wasn't interested in the money the BartCoppers were
willing to fork out for drinks, so we were driven into the bar next door,
Blackie's. Blackie's is a fine establishment, I'm sure, but drinks are $9.00
apiece. We managed to enjoy ourselves anyway. Eric and I went to our
room a little after 1 AM. Evidently, the party raged on downstairs.

We finally managed to pull ourselves out of bed the next morning, and I went
off in search of the restaurant manager. I explained to her that we had someone
coming to lunch that was a "newsmaker"; would this be a problem?
Did I need to arrange for extra security of some sort? It turns out we didn't
need it; we'd effectively taken over the restaurant.

We were thrilled at how many BartCoppers showed up for the JulieFest
Luncheon. (We could identify those who closed down Blackie's, they were
the ones in the dark glasses.) Amazingly, there were still people who did
not know that Julie was our SPECIAL GUEST, so there were some people
pretty anxiously watching the door!

 Julie was running a little behind schedule, so while waiting for our food to arrive,
everyone stood up individually, introduced themselves and said a little about when
they started reading BartCop.com. In the meantime, Eric and I listened to Marc
Perkel, publisher of BartCop, and Michele from BartCook talking about his LA "adventure".

The guest of honor finally arrived, and BartCop's not kidding - she's a tornado.
She has an incredible memory, she's funny, sweet, and endearing, and she talks
faster than anyone I've ever met. I couldn't get over that I was sitting next to a
woman who had taken the full force of the United States government (via the
religiously insane Kenneth Starr,) and was still standing. She also was tremendously
gracious to the 40+ people who all wanted to talk to her at once.

Julie talked about Kathleen Willey and her new radio show (which has now been
cancelled - what a shock,) the day the jury came back at her trial (they tried to eat
lunch twice, had two "false alarms," and then ended up back in the courtroom to
hear that Julie's case had been dismissed,) and how her life has been since BartCop
arrived on the scene. I was touched to be handed a $20 from Bob from Oklahoma
- he explained that Table Four was buying Julie's lunch, even though Table Four
hadn't gotten much of a chance to talk to Julie.

I have to say at this point that I have been at so many events where people had to
work together to pay a restaurant bill, and sometimes, people are less than cooperative.
There's always someone who doesn't want to pay his or her fair share. Before JulieFest,
I have never been in a group that was so overwhelmingly generous, not just with their
money, but with their hearts. I realize that this sounds so sappy, but we were stunned,
over and over and over, at people who had traveled huge distances, spent a ton of money,
but were more than willing to spend a little more to help out a womanthey didn't even know.

The luncheon broke up a little after 2 PM, and we went upstairs to lie
down for a bit before the evening's festivities.

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