Writing my column in isolation from my home in Wellington, Florida, because of the Coronavirus outbreak, it was hard to concentrate on anything other than the pandemic that was sweeping the world. Hopefully by the time this issue of Quest is published, the curve will be flattening out…and the crisis will have passed.
I was covering Michael Bloomberg’s first campaign for mayor of New York in 2001. Going to street parties in Queens, he shook hands with everyone he saw. His campaign was ubiquitous—he threw out the first ball at Yankee Stadium, went to City Field, rode the subway to his office, kissed babies along the way. He chatted easily with everyone who approached him as he was getting to know his public.
Planning to spend only a few hours on the campaign trail, I stayed longer when I saw the enthusiastic crowds who followed. And then—what could be better—someone handed a 15-foot python to the candidate. He smiled and didn’t miss a beat, acting like this was his normal day-to-day. I can’t help but wonder if perhaps underneath he was wondering something like, “How did I get myself into this situation?” But here is the photograph. The mayor had given me a spontaneous and never-to-happen-again picture. Later, I researched pythons and found that although they are not poisonous, their bite can be quite serious. Looking back, I think the soon-to-be mayor got off lucky that day.
And, Mr. Mayor, I would like to thank you for giving me a photograph to remember.