jueves, 20 de octubre de 2016


It was mid April of 1998, I was the Country Manager for UNISYS (CHILE) Corp, and Chile was hosting the second Summit of the Americas and Bill and Hillary Clinton were in Santiago, the week before, on a State Visit.

It was a Friday morning and I received a last minute invitation from the AMCHAM people (American Chilean Chamber of Commerce) to attend the State dinner for the Clintons, hosted by President Frei and his wife, Martita.

The fact that I got such a late invitation indicated that some more important personality had backed out and they needed someone to fill the spot.

But something told me it was going to be an interesting day.

I had some American visitors from our Boca Raton headquarters, and being who I am, I couldn´t resist telling them that I would be with the Clintons that night at the Presidential Palace. One of them, with a wink and a twinkle in his eye said something along the following lines:

"Hey Terry, do me a favor......I don´t care too much for Bill, but there is this rumor in the States about Hillary. They say she´s "butch" and I want you to try and shake her hand and see if it´s true that she´ll try and crunch it right to the bone".

Hahahahaha, but I said I didn´t think so.......we had a great laugh and I promised that I´d do my best to comply with his wishes.

At midday, I attended a large meeting where Bill Clinton spoke to the Chilean and the expatriate business community at the Santiago Teatro Municipal.

An incredibly good speaker, Bill had everybody attending at his fingertips.

At the end of this excellent presentation by Bill (NAFTA was in the process at the time), I decided to exit the theater by a side door towards the west and to my surprise and delight I saw that Clinton and his party were exiting right in front of me,

So being the gossip that I am, I followed along expecting them to climb into their cars and leave.

But to my joy and the shock of his secret service detail, Bill crossed the street and went into one of the bars or "picadas" (small restaurants that serve cheap and good food) that exist on the west side of San Antonio street. I afterwards heard he ordered a Coke and chatted with some of the patrons and the waitresses there.

On the outside quite a few people had assembled, including a fair number of middle aged women "groupies" and in their midst, a local, very undignified, Chilean executive named Terence Cook, all of us waiting for "rock star" Bill to emerge.

We wanted to see him from close up and hopefully get a handshake as he went by.

Some ten minutes later, that seemed forever, Bill emerged and came straight at us.

My groupie friends went wild, like he was Mick Jagger, yelling Bill, Bill, Bill !!!!! I must say that I got totally carried away by the moment.

Bill Clinton was, then, an incredibly attractive figure physically......or looked it to me, anyway......Very tall, thin and pale......he seemed to look down at us with impressive blue eyes and this warm and gentle smile.

My groupie friends that were surrounding me yelled at him and jumped up and down. As he passed he made a point of coming close and shook their hands.......and mine as well !!!!!

Needless to say the "picada" (San Remo) that Bill honored with his improvised visit, became instantly famous and hugely popular. Its owner cleverly kept the coke bottle, the glass in which Bill drank out of, put them on display, and changed the name of his restaurant to "La Picada de Clinton" as it is still known until today.

That evening, my wife Andrea and I headed over to la Moneda, the Chilean Presidential Palace, for President Frei`s state dinner for the Clintons.

It was a pleasant autumn night and an excellent delicious dinner was served in the Patio de los Naranjos, outdoors.

As I suspected, when I received the last minute invitation, we were so far away from the table of honor, that I though it would be impossible to get close to Hillary in order to fulfill my colleagues wish that I could shake her hand.

But they don´t call me Lucky Cook for nothing !!!!!

After a delicious dinner, great toasts back and forth and, as usual, an outstanding speech by Bill, it was time to leave.

As fortune would have it, we happened to start exiting exactly in the same direction Hillary was taking (Bill had moved in a different direction).

 I had some time to observe Hillary as she slowly moved towards my position.

She was impressive. Not a very tall lady, but her yellow dress was beautiful. Impressive was the way she gave everybody her full attention.

She looked every body in the eyes for several seconds and had a kind word for all, as she shook hands.

Finally it was my turn and she looked me straight in the eye with her lovely blue eyes. "Pleased to meet you", she said, and gave me a firm but pleasant handshake. And, without any hurry, she went on to say hello to the next person.

Next day, I was able to report to my colleague.......mission accomplished !!!!!!........and I was happy to tell him that the rumors about Hillary being "butch", were unfounded.

I was so pleased about my encounter with the Clintons, that I am sure it overflowed over to my golf game. In fact, only a few days later I made my first hole in one !!!!!!!

If Hillary Clinton becomes President of the United States, which I hope she does, I might have a pretty unique record to boast about:

I shook hands with two Presidents of the United Stated of America, man and woman, husband and wife, on the same day, in two different events.

That´s Lucky Cook, for you !!!!!!!!!!

And, nowadays, on most Mondays, when I go downtown to have lunch with some of my buddies, I always try and go via calle San Antonio, and in front of the Teatro Municipal de Santiago, to have a look at the Pica de Clinton.

It brings the inevitable smile to my face as I remember that very special day.


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