Earlier today Bob Loblaw tweeted something that I'd completely overlooked:
Today is the "future" dateline referenced in the @MarkSteynOnline column "Monica's Dress" where the dress (now a pair of curtains in Idaho) reflects back 20 years to its heyday leading up to the 1998 Bill Clinton impeachment trial.
That's true, it is: August 22nd 2018. Exactly twenty years ago, on August 22nd 1998, the Year of Impeachment, I wrote a column for The Daily Telegraph in London imagining an exclusive interview with the once famous dress two decades on:
August 22nd 2018
She is older now, her once dazzling looks undeniably faded, her famous beauty worn and creased.
"Sorry about that," she says. "I was supposed to get ironed yesterday."
Yes, it's "that dress" — the dress that, 20 years ago this month, held the fate of a presidency in her lap. It has been two decades since the day she gave her dramatic testimony to the grand jury and then promptly disappeared into the federal witness protection program. Even as she recalls her brief moment in the spotlight, she looks drawn. But that's because, following extensive reconstructive surgery, she's been living quietly as a pair of curtains in Idaho.
"What do you think?" she says, saucily brushing her hem against the sill as her pleats ripple across the mullions. "It cost less than Paula Jones' nose job."
To be honest, I was lucky to get the interview. The dress was supposed to be doing the BBC — the full sob-sister treatment, Martin Bashir, the works—but, to protect her identity, they wanted to do that undercover secret-location protect-your-identity trick with the camera that makes part of the screen go all fuzzy and blurry.
"Are you crazy?" she yelled at them. "It'll look like I've still got the stain."
I'm occasionally asked why I don't write Monica-type columns so much these days. Well, the short answer is what came after Monica and impeachment on a Tuesday morning in September. The longer answer can be found in the prologue to my book The [Un]documented Mark Steyn, personally autographed copies of which are exclusively available from the SteynOnline bookstore and make a delightful twentieth-anniversary gift for the stained dress in your closet. As I wrote in the book:
A decade or so back, early in the 2004 presidential election season, a publisher took me to lunch and pitched me a book. She wanted me to write a John Kerry election diary. Easy gig. All I had to do was follow him around and mock him mercilessly. Well, I hemmed and hawed and eventually she got the picture and said, "Okay, what would you like to write a book about?"
And so I replied, "Well, I've got this idea for a book called The End of the World."
And there was a pause and I could feel her metaphorically backing out of the room, and shortly thereafter she literally backed out of the room. But not before telling me, somewhat wistfully, "You know when I first started reading your stuff? Impeachment. Your column about Monica Lewinsky's dress was hilarious." She motioned to the waiter. "Check, please!" And I got the distinct impression she was feeling like the great pop guru Don Kirshner when the Monkees came to him and said they were sick of doing this bubblegum stuff and they needed to grow as artists...
The Nineties were a lot of fun for a columnist. A third Clinton term and I could have retired to the Caribbean. But then came the new century and the new war, and I felt like Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca when she tells Bogey, "I put that dress away. When the Germans march out, I'll wear it again." I put Monica's dress away. When the jihadists march out, I'll wear it again.
It looks like I'll be waiting longer than Miss Bergman. "August 22nd 2018" was a fictional conceit when I wrote my column. Here it is, and end-of-the-world-wise we're not where we should be.
~I'll see you on the radio at 5pm Eastern with Peter Shurman, in for John Oakley on Toronto's AM640. As the second year of The Mark Steyn Club cranks into top gear, we're very appreciative of all those who signed up in our first flush and have been so eager to re-subscribe - and we hope as summer draws down that later members will feel the same way. We thank you all, and hope to see at least a few of you on our inaugural Club Cruise next month. For more information on the Steyn Club, see here.