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The crutch diaries, vol. II

BY TAMARA WIEDER

WEDNESDAY, July 28, 2004 -- Iíve decided to keep the crutches. Forever. They are apparently -- where political conventions are concerned, anyway -- the key to being treated like royalty. Or at least treated to decidedly un-Boston-like hospitality.

Just through the security tent, my friend and I stop to get our bearings; I try to estimate how many miles away from the FleetCenter -- through gates, around fences, past a veritable gauntlet of singing, sticker-offering hordes -- Iíve just had to walk in order to get to the place. As I lean heavily on my crutches, a convention volunteer approaches, wondering if Iíd like a golf cart to drive me to the buildingís entrance. Iím not about to turn down free transportation. He radios for a cart, which pulls up and speeds me past the trudging masses. Iím starting to like this sprained-foot thing.

At the door, another volunteer offers a wheelchair. I decline; he tells me if I change my mind, to look for a volunteer, whoíll get me whatever I need. Inside, yet another volunteer offers a sympathetic smile and points me towards the elevator.

We have "honored guest" passes tonight, courtesy of an uncle who canít use them, but by the time we navigate our way up to the correct floor, all the seats in those sections are full. At the entrance to one of the filled areas, an "access control" worker leans in. "You might want to come back after Ted Kennedyís speech," he tells us. "Some people might be leaving after that."

In the hallway, I feel like a lemming -- and an infirm one at that -- struggling against a tide of bodies moving purposefully in the other direction. I flatten myself against a wall to squeak by two men stopped to talk; itís Tim Russert and Rob Reiner, I realize, as I narrowly avoid being squashed. Further down the hall -- how long is this hall, anyway? -- I pass The Apprenticeís Omarosa, looking typically sour. I resist the urge to tell her, "Youíre fired."

Giving up on honored-guest status, we take a freight elevator two floors up. In a handicapped section, a volunteer offers me a folding chair; another swoops in with a second seat and tells me to put my foot up. "I know how it feels," she says sweetly. "You need to elevate that."

Later, as Senator Kennedyís speech winds down, my friend heads downstairs to see about those seats opening up. My cell phone rings minutes later. "Get down here now," she says. "We have seats, and you wonít believe why."

Turns out the kindly usher who suggested returning post-Kennedy wasnít just guessing that seats would become available; he was giving us a hot tip. As my friend stood waiting at the end of the senatorís speech, a stream of Kennedys -- Caroline and Patrick, Eunice and Maria -- filed out past her. We swooped into their still-warm seats.

At the end of the night, requisite collection of signs in hand, we make our way back down to the Fleetís entrance. A volunteer flags down a group of construction-worker types driving a bare-bones supply cart; they make room for us on the back and take us partway out. No sooner have we stepped off then another volunteer calls for a cart to take us the remainder of the way to the gate.

As we once again whiz by the trudging masses, now wondering how this golf cart would fare on Storrow Drive if we canít get a taxi, my friend turns to me with a grin. "The thing is," she says, nodding towards my injured foot, "Iím so glad you fell."

Iím beginning to agree.


Issue Date: July 28, 2004
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