90ish days of summer
During coffee with Claire on June 25, Sen. McCaskill first welcomed everyone in the crowded conference room and then opened the floor for a few questions.
A woman named Hope Tinker introduced herself and asked a question.
I think Jeff’s ears must have pricked up, because later he said to me, “I wonder if Mary Beth is here!”
Jeff and Mary Beth Tinker are basically best friends.
That’s right, the Mary Beth Tinker of Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District. The Mary Beth Tinker who wore a black armband to school in protest of the Vietnam War, was suspended from school, sued the district in defense of her First Amendment rights and won the case in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Jeff and Mary Beth (hey — that rhymes!) first met in spring 2007, when she came to speak at his high school newspaper about the First Amendment. They chatted a little then. No big deal.
In Nov. 2007, Jeff was in his freshman year at MU and suffering from allergies or some other minor malady. Being the trusting, naive, innocent freshman that he was, he went to the Student Health Center, where his nurse wore a name badge that read, “Mary Beth Tinker.”
During the examination, Jeff asked her if she were the Mary Beth Tinker.
“Well, which Mary Beth Tinker would that be?” she asked him. (I like to imagine her sticking a big fat needle in his arm as she made this inquiry.)
“The one related to the Tinker vs. Des Moines Supreme Court case,” Jeff said.
“That would be me,” Mary Beth replied. “You’re the first person here to ever ask that.”
Jeff then said that she’d visited his school earlier that year, which she did remember. And that was that.
Fast-forward about a year and a half, when Jeff and Mary Beth crossed paths a third time.
After he and I had our photo taken with Sen. McCaskill, we went back to the conference room, where a few constituents remained. Jeff introduced himself to Hope Tinker, who’d asked Sen. McCaskill a question earlier, and mentioned he’d met Hope’s sister Mary Beth.
“Oh — she’s right over there!” Hope said, and pointed.
BAM POW WHAM. Jeff and Mary Beth met. Again.
Strange encounters of the third time? I can’t think of a more apt title for this post.