Warning. A big VIP, well, actually VIPP flex is coming.
So I’m Polish. I always feel funny saying that, but it’s true. My last name has very few vowels in it. I put butter between the cold cut and the bread when I make my open faced sandwich. I love a good pastry, especially this Polish delicacy called pączki, which is a jelly filled bun of joy. I can be cynical. I think tea is a panacea for any health related ailments. Oh and wigilia, our traditional Christmas celebration with sałatka is sacred. My grandmother made the best pierogi. No, no need to question. This is just true.
But that’s about it for me being Polish. Poland doesn’t get a lot of play in American culture. Coach K, aka Mike Krzyzewski, Pope John Paul II and Rob Gronkowski. Sometimes. He’s on the bubble with being Polish. Just kidding Gronk. I love you despite the fact that you left us.
Growing up though, there was one person who kinda broke through, was sort of seen among the political grandees of this nation. This was Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish born diplomat who was National Security Advisor under Jimmy Carter. I remember growing up and seeing Dr Brzezinski on tv and thinking — look. That’s us. I mean Poland. Are we really represented in the media??? In the movies, we’re either maids or scientists. Slightly eccentric linguistics enthusiasts who love skiing and photography and teaching the TOEFL exam are not really represented in the media. We should be, but we’re not.
Anyway, back to Brzezinski. On my great American southern road trip, I visited the Jimmy Carter presidential library in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s quite an interesting place. It gives a really comprehensive look into the life of the peanut farmer from Georgia. No matter what your political leanings, Carter is an impressive man who has done a lot of good in the world.
What struck me though throughout the exhibit was how much Carter relied on Dr Brzezinski, or as Carter pronounced it, Dr Brez-in-ski, which ok silver medal for pronunciation because our names are crazy hard to say. There seemed to be a really close friendship and mutual respect between these two men and Brzezinski seemed to be a trusted advisor of Carter. My little red and white heart sorta swelled up with pride when I saw how close these two men were.
It kind of brought back to my meeting with Dr Brzezinski. It was when we worked together in the White House. Ok TOTALLY kidding. The man was about 50 years my senior. My dear friend Andrea Kirk was working on a benefit where Brzezinski was going to get an award and hey, she needed a photographer and she happened to know this weirdo who would stick her camera in anyone’s face. Anyone’s. So I got the job. I also needed the evening off to go and see Brzezinski. My boss at the time goes — you need the night off to go to the Zbig show? Ok.
The night was really funny. It was a crowd of Washington grandees, sub grandees and normal folk. Everyone SWARMED Brzezinski when he came in. I was so nervous that I couldn’t speak to Brzezinski. I went up to my friend Andrea’s mother and got her to introduce me to him. I had prepared some Polish to speak to him. Oh and when you speak Polish and you are speaking to a person who is older than you and way more accomplished, you must say “Mister.” You do not call a man like that “you.” I nervously rehearsed these lines. He was a gracious and kind man and it was a very nice meeting. We even snapped a photo together:
Look at that fresh faced child. Oh and I got my own photos of the Zbigniew:
Oh and here’s a couple of snaps from the Carter library, a very worthwhile place to visit to go full politics junkie: