Many years ago, I was a young stringer in a bureau of a major newspaper. One day, the bureau staff was invited to a dinner held by a candidate for the American presidency. He and his wife were hosting a prime minister and some of the members of that leader's cabinet.
I was thrilled to be included in the invitation. I'd been covering the presidential hopeful off and on for several years, occasionally conducting brief in-person or phone interviews. But I'd never been invited to an on-the-record dinner at a private home with such an esteemed guest list. I recall that I ran out of the office early to buy a dress that would be appropriate.
When I arrived, I was greeted by the Secret Service, and then joined the other guests milling around the backyard holding drinks. Security personnel, holding rifles, were perched in the trees and the setting sun cast their shadows on the ground. Eventually we were whisked inside the house and the bureau chief and senior reporters, from my paper and another, were seated at the dining room table along with the host and the foreign dignitaries.
I stood with others as the evening's conversation unfolded, nibbling from a plate which I held in my hands. Suddenly, strong arms...