But John Kerry really looked good in his tuxedo, as if he were born in it. As a matter of fact, he looked more natural in his tuxedo than he did in the combat fatigues he wore before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Most of the way out to Worcester, Kerry worked on his speech. When he finished he looked out at the rolling green countryside and said, "This is beautiful country."

"Yes," articulated Wayne Thomas in a very formal way. "I understand you were speaking champ at Yale."

"I won a few prizes," Kerry replied with an edge in his voice which said he really didn't want to discuss it. But Wayne Thomas did.

"I do a little public speaking myself," the driver said. "I'm going to participate in the finals of the Jaycees' public speaking contest."

"Oh?"

"I really admire the way you speak. Do you work from notes or a complete text?"

"Well... ... it depends. I usually kind of shuffle things around. What are you going to speak on at this debating contest?" Kerry asked.

"I'm going to speak about this very famous Jaycee who just died, and what his life can mean for the rest of us," Wayne Thomas said, pronouncing every word ve-ry care-ful-ly. "It's a political thing. The judges will eat that kind of speech up, although I'm pretty sure they're more impressed by your appearance than by what you're saying."

"Yes," Kerry agreed. "Appearance is very important."

Wayne Thomas went on to talk about other politicians who he'd driven around for the Jaycees in the big limousine. It was clear he regarded Kerry as another politician to be driven around, rather than a leader of the rag-tag groups of veterans who threw their medals on the steps of the capitol in disgust.

The banquet itself was a little different than the normal fare you might expect on the rubber chicken circuit. For one thing they served rice with the rubber chicken instead of soupy mashed potatoes – but maybe that's because it was a formal affair.

Julie Kerry was a bit nervous when she learned she would be separated from her husband during the meal. She seemed more ill at ease in her formal dress than John did in his tuxedo.

"Are you really Mrs. Kerry?" fawning suburban matriarchs cooed. "I'd love to switch places with you. Your husband is even more handsome in real life than he is on television."

Julie muttered something about how they made John's face look kind of weird on television.

The Master of Ceremonies looked like a stand-up comedian with flashy brown dinner jacket and a huge yellow bow-tie. He was the type of guy you figured would tell some after-dinner jokes which would settle as uneasily as the chicken.

Instead of telling jokes, though, he launched into an eloquent and somewhat surprising statement about the ills of the country. He talked about how the war has damaged the nation, and quoted from the Constitution. Then he eased himself and the nation out of the nose-dive by pointing to the ten "Outstanding Young Leaders" of Worcester who would provide leadership for the future.

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  Topics: Flashbacks , Boston Globe, JFK, Kerry
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