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PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

Dating With Secret Service in Tow

The single life, with an entourage

August 27, 2000|Patti Davis | Patti Davis, a screenwriter, is the author of "Angels Don't Die."

No matter who wins the presidential election, whether it's Vice President Al Gore or Texas Gov. George W. Bush, there will be at least one young, single first daughter forced to navigate the treacherous waters of the dating world while being closely followed by a merry band of Secret Service agents--usually male, and impossible to ignore since they have those pesky earpieces dangling from their heads and are always talking into their wrists. As if dating wasn't hard enough.

There are no how-to books available about how to deal with this situation, and I think even the wisest sage would throw up his (or her) arms and say, "Beats me." So, I'm offering a few suggestions. As someone who lived through this ordeal--notice, I didn't say survived it--I can at least give you some insights and tips that may help preserve your sanity and prevent you from missing romance altogether.

1) Don't let on that you think any of the Secret Service agents are attractive. They'll be taken off your detail before the clock strikes midnight. They're sensitive about that sort of thing. Jumpy, in fact.

2) In reference to tip No. 1, any guy you're dating will probably be jealous that you are being trailed by some attractive men. There's really no way around this, but you might suggest he strike up a conversation with them--ask about their sunglasses or their training. It's a male-bonding kind of thing, and it sometimes works.

3) Don't tell them where you're going beforehand. They'll be really mad, but here's the reason. If, for example, you say, I'm going to dinner at this particular restaurant tonight, they'll "advance" it. This means, when you walk in, everyone will be staring. I mean everyone. The cooks, the busboys, the dishwashers. The kitchen will get backed up, orders will be slow and the customers will blame you. Not to mention that your date will hate the scrutiny.

4) Tip No. 3 applies even more to movies. Wait until the last minute. Be spontaneous. That way the agents might not even get a seat; they'll have to stand in the back. There's nothing more distracting than men with guns sitting right behind you munching popcorn.

5) There actually are some advantages. You can do risky things like go hiking at night, white-water rafting, backpacking in grizzly-bear country, skydiving. You know, all those things you might have been afraid to do before. Hey, they're there to protect you--why wait for a terrorist kidnap plot? Take advantage of their skills and commitment. They'll probably appreciate the adventure.

6) You can ask them for a bona-fide male opinion on how you look before you go on that really important date. Just remember to not ask the cute ones. If the reason for this is unclear, please refer back to tip No. 1.

7) Don't expect them to intervene if a disgruntled ex-boyfriend spots you in public and insists on talking to you. Unless your ex is wearing a facemask, brandishing a weapon or acting like a drugged-out lunatic, you're just going to have to handle the situation yourself. Ex-boyfriends are not in the Secret Service manual.

8) Explain to your date he should obey the speed limits. Not just for the obvious safety reasons, but also because the agents have sirens in their cars. It's embarrassing to be pulled over by your own Secret Service agents.

I hope these suggestions are helpful to whomever is placed in the strange situation of waking up one day as the new first daughter. I have just one more tip. If you end up getting married while your father's in office, get married in the White House. I didn't, and several of my friends have never forgiven me.

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