Marilyn hardly noticed the drop of sweat heading down her back from the back of her head. She no longer heard the marching band from the local high school playing an uninspired version of "Hail to the Chief". She did not notice the woman across from her waving a flag nor did she even realize that Don and Teddy were no longer standing next to her. She could not smell the exhaust fumes from the black limo just a few feet away and yet, with all her senses being bombarded, the one thing she noticed was his after-shave.
She was reminded of her grandfather and while the smell was not totally unpleasant, Marilyn felt very uncomfortable. Her vexation was multiplied by the fact that she was obviously in the wrong place at the wrong time. She recognized Officer Blunt as he put his hand on her shoulder and spoke to her and at the same time the President of the United States was introducing himself to her and looking at Blunt like Blunt should be saying something or doing something else. A Secret Service officer was now standing on the other side of her talking into a radio all the while people all around her cheered and the band played mercilessly on.
The president repeated himself. "Dwight Eisenhower", and added, "What's your name, sweetheart?"
With still no response the president looked at Blunt and then quickly glanced at some of the crowd. He was getting mixed feedback coming from the body language of the people around him. He expected the girl's parents to be there with her but nobody seemed to be with her and yet the local policeman seemed to know her and yet the poor child was filthy and smelled of mud and pancakes. He was used to meeting people who froze up when they were introduced but the child seemed to be considerably more worried about the young officer. To make matters more awkward the girl seemed to be handing him a syrup-smeared dinner plate. In just a few seconds the president went from Commander-In-Chief confident to just plain confused.
He took the plate, looked at it and said, "Oh...thank you?" His voice was more questioning than grateful. His smile was now awkward and forced. As he was just about to walk off from the graceless encounter Officer Blunt spoke up.
"Her name is Marilyn...Mr. President. She's...umm... with me." Blunt, like the others, was trying to recover his wits.
The president looked relieved at getting even this much information. At least he could work with it.
"Well, Marilyn, is this your daddy?", he said with a patronizing grin.
"No!", said Marilyn excitedly and emphasized, "And I am not with him!"
The presidential grin was replaced with a confused scowl as Eisenhower looked expectantly at Blunt now. The Secret Service officer was gently trying to remind the president of his schedule but was given a curt "just a minute" finger. The band leader was unsure how many stanzas of "Hail to the Chief" he should play and an awkward laugh followed an untimely "We like Ike!" hollered from a man in the crowd.
Officer Blunt tried to explain but stammered around so long that finally the pressured president interrupted and with his shoulders settled and his hands on his hips said firmly, "Look, I want both of you to come with me right now". The Secret Service officer took this as his cue and ushered the president, Blunt and Marilyn into the hotel.
The confused head-tilt of Teddy seemed to summarize the situation as he stood next to Don watching at a distance.