Early Friday morning, a person identifying themself as Robin Tracey Innis Masozi Dale began calling my office in Washington DC, more or less pestering the dickens out of poor Gretchen, my private secretary, by urgently asking for a telephone consultation, over and over again. As it happened, I couldn’t spare a minute – I was booked solid until six in the evening. After Robin called back about a dozen times, however, I told Gretchen to arrange an appointment for six fifteen PM. At precisely that time, Robin called and Gretchen immediately connected me.
Robin: Hello? Hello? Is this Tom Collins?
Tom: Yes, it is.
Robin: Mr. Collins, I’ve heard it said, that you’re the smartest person inside the Beltway.
Tom: Which is a lot like being the tallest building in Baltimore.
Robin: Baltimore? How did you know that I used to… um… work… in Baltimore?
Tom: I didn’t. You used to work in Baltimore? What did you do?
Robin: Oh… in that case, never mind.
Tom: Not on The Block, by any chance?
Robin: Um… I thought you were a… what do you call it… a consultant, not a private detective.
Tom: Quite right – I was just guessing, actually. How may I help you?
Robin: Well, to begin with, I’m… ah… in the military.
Tom: So are quite a number of other people.
Robin: Yes, but, uh… I’m not just an ordinary warrior.
Tom: Oh no?
Robin: Absolutely not – I’ve been stationed in Afghanistan.
Tom: Not so unusual, that.
Robin: And also at MacDill Air Force Base…
Tom: The home of CENTCOM. I see.
Robin: You can fill in the blanks?
Tom: A few, perhaps. You’ve been having an… affair with a general officer, then?
Robin: Several of them, actually.
Tom: Interesting. They’re married, I take it?
Robin: All of them.
Tom: Anybody I… might have heard of?
Robin: Okay… how about General David Petraeus?
Tom: Yeah, I’ve certainly heard of him.
Robin: And General John Allen?
Tom: Oh, definitely.
Robin: Well, there’s about ten other general officers I’ve had… relationships with, too.
Tom: Petraeus and Allen are Army and Marines, respectively. Anybody in the Air Force?
Robin: Yeah, sure – officers in the Navy, too.
Tom: You mean, admirals?
Robin: Rear admirals – upper and lower half, and a… vice admiral.
Tom: How appropriate.
Robin: You aren’t the first to say so.
Tom: And all this… amorous behavior… with the generals and admirals of assorted ranks from the various branches of the service, it was all ordinary, respectable John Wayne style, I assume?
Robin: John Wayne style?
Tom: Yeah, sure, you know – face-to-face; the man on the top, woman on the bottom, get it over with quick – that sort of thing?
Robin: Um… not necessarily.
Robin: Uh… sometimes.
Robin: Ah… now and then.
Robin: Holy [expletive]! Who told you?
Tom: And did you… “burnish” anybody’s “brass?”
Robin: Burnish their brass? Oh, my God, that’s totally sick!
Tom: Well, did you?
Robin: Uh… yeah… as a matter of fact, I did. But it’s not something I’m proud of, though, I’ll tell you that. It’s almost… impossible to describe how I felt afterward.
Tom: What did you do… afterward?
Robin: Wash all up in… you know… those places… with a whole box of baking soda… and go over… um… everything involved, you know, with liquid bleach… take a hot shower for about an hour… brush my teeth for thirty minutes… use about a quart of mouthwash… take another hot shower… make a warm Epsom salt enema, and then…
Tom: Sounds like you knew what you were doing. Burnish a lot of military brass, then?
Robin: Look, I’m just trying to get somewhere, understand?
Tom: Sure. And how’s that going?
Robin: Well, I don’t know, exactly. I’m calling around about my… situation. Lots of people in Washington… including you.
Tom: So, you’re checking out the possibilities, as it were?
Robin: More or less. I mean, time flies, right? A person can’t make a long term career out of B&B, M&M, LS/MFT, quirky Sanchez, rainbow showers, great Dane dog shows, trusty trombones and burnishing generals’ brass forever, now can they? Got to strike while the iron is hot, I figure – make hay while the sun shines, you know?
Tom: I agree wholeheartedly, it’s a limited character arc, no doubt about it. Have your… adventures been limited solely to members of the military, then?
Robin: Uh, no, not really.
Robin: Well, basically, if somebody does general officers, or does somebody who does general officers, or does somebody who does somebody who does general officers, or knows somebody who does somebody who does general officers, then, generally speaking, I do them.
Robin: So yeah, I’ve done Paula Broadwell.
Robin: And Jill Kelley.
Robin: And Natalie Khawam.
Robin: And Grayson P. Wolfe.
Robin: And Frederick W. Humphries II… and all of their lawyers.
Tom: Excuse me, did you just say, “and all of their lawyers?”
Tom: Now that – that definitely is perverted.
Robin: Please, please, have pity on me. I can’t help being the pathetic example of humanity that I am!
Tom: Oh, don’t worry about it – neither can Frederick W. Humphries II, Grayson P. Wolfe, Natalie Khawam, Jill Kelley, Paula Broadwell, John Allen or David Petraeus.
Robin: I… I’m… I’m so glad… you see it that way, Mr. Collins.
Tom: Of course - there’s no other way for an intelligent, educated person inside the Beltway to see it, actually. But where do you want to go from here?
Robin: Well, that’s why I called. I hear you don’t charge for the first consultation.
Tom: That’s true.
Robin: And now that all of my… efforts are bearing fruit, I guess you’d say, and my enlistment is just about up, I’m thinking about moving to Washington, to um… further pursue my ambitions.
Tom: I’m sure we’d be happy to welcome you, Robin. It’s a very open-minded place.
Robin: So they say. What I want you to do, is recommend some people up there in Washington I can… um… arrange to… ah… meet…
Tom: Excuse me, but I think you must be mistaken.
Robin: About what?
Tom: I’m a policy consultant, not a… social engagement director.
Robin: Oh, I’m sorry, I…
Tom: On the other hand, if you want a date with some high ranking United States military officers, just start cruising the bars in Crystal City at happy hour.
Robin: Crystal City?
Tom: Yeah – it’s a complex of hotels and apartments on the east side of Jefferson Davis Highway in Virginia that starts about two thousand feet from the Pentagon.
Tom: Sure. Rent a house in Aurora Highlands – that’s a bedroom community, very conveniently located on the west side of Jefferson Davis Highway right across from Crystal City. From that base of operations, you ought to be able to… shall we say… make the intimate acquaintance… of at least two general officers every night.
Robin: Two? Every night?
Tom: There are literally thousands of generals and admirals stationed at the Pentagon.
Robin: Oh my God, this is incredibly exciting! Hold on, let me get this… Crystal City… Jefferson Davis Highway… Aurora Highlands… okay, great. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this. When I get to Washington and… ah… meet some more generals and admirals, and the money starts coming in, and I can afford to pay you, can I call for some more advice?
Tom: Of course. Giving advice is my business. By the way, Robin, do you mind if I ask you a rather… personal question?
Robin: A… personal question?
Tom: Yes. Might I inquire, what gender are you?
Robin: Um… can I tell you the next time I call?
Robin: Okay, then, goodbye for now, I guess.
Tom: Good guess, indeed. Ciao, baby.