I met Rick Perry 10 years ago. It was brief, for a public relations event, and I had one thought: this is a man who cares how he's photographed.
(Top photo by Jim Young of Reuters)
Working as a reporter for the local paper, I contented myself with features and entertainment stories, and didn't have much interest in the politics that accompany a gubernatorial visit, but I've always loved history, and my town has a colorful past, so when Rick Perry came down to commemorate one of our historic battlefields, I didn't mind the assignment.
It was a windy day, and the temporary stage built for the occasion was full of local politicos and public figures, all trying their hardest to (appear to) pay attention to the various speakers even as gusts threw their hair around and flung ties into faces.
Except Perry, that is.
Oh, he seemed to be listening attentively, but he was the only one faced away from from the podium, chin resting firmly on his hand like Rodin's The Thinker as he stared at nothing in the distance with a sense of practiced introspection.
For a split second I wondered, "What is he looking at?" Then it dawned on me: as the other politicians struggled with unruly follicles and escaping toupées, Perry calmly stared into the wind so that his carefully coiffed coiffure could remain unmussed, lest some wayward photographer take a picture with his hair in a less-than-ideal state.
I wonder if he's still fussy about how he gets his picture taken now?
For the record, after the event they rushed a handful of reporters, including myself, into a mobile office to "interview" Perry. We were each allowed one question, but nothing political. He answered just about everyone's question with "no comment." I just rolled my eyes and asked him about the weather.
I honestly can't remember his answer. The only thing that made an impression on me that day was his hair.