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The Best Lesson My Father Taught Me Involves Bill Clinton And Cats

The following was syndicated from Quora for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at

What is the most badass thing your parent has ever done?

My Dad, when he met President Clinton, spoke to the President about our cats.

Who does that?

Meet Bill Clinton, leader of the free world, super powerful, not to mention full of charm and grace, and you talk to him about cats? For 10 minutes?

My Dad is a big Republican, always has been. My aunt and uncle are rather active Democrats and used to fund-raise for the Clintons. At this particular event my Dad attended and met the President.

And talked to him about our cats.

To be fair, it wasn’t just about cats. It was about P.G. Wodehouse, my father’s favorite author. A sublimely funny British writer whom my Dad suggested the President should read. Because why? He thought the President would be interested, and Bill, to his credit, probably was. He’s a smart man.

Then, to embellish on his love for this singular author, my singular Dad mentioned that we loved Wodehouse so much, in fact, that we had a cat named Bertie Wooster, Wodehouse’s main character.

Because we did.

Why not share that with Bill Clinton?

I asked Dad about it later and he said, “I just thought he’d like to read him. Wodehouse is a terrific author!”

My Dad is badass. Because he’s not afraid to be himself.

If you scratch his surface a little bit, or even a lot, in fact, if you put the most powerful and famous person in the room with my Dad, Dad will be Dad.

He simply cannot be anyone else.

I love and admire that about him. Such authenticity. I have it, but not like him. (Hell, put me on with the Clintons and I swear violently and throw phones).

My Dad is badass. Because he’s not afraid to be himself.

Authenticity is the quality I most admire about my husband, too.

Who, funny enough, also ends up talking about our cats in obscure moments with famous people.

My husband was at a dinner recently, for work, seated next to Nigel Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer among other things. Mr. Vrana, not recognizing Lord Nigel, somehow got talking about how we named our cats after British characters (Morse & Lewis). Because, why not?

Next thing he knows, the guy stands up — because he was Nigel Lawson, speaker at the event — and mentions my husband, and our cats, to the entire room before he begins his real speech. I don’t know, maybe he was also impressed at Mr. Vrana’s authenticity.

Or maybe he just also liked cats.

I love my Dad. He has dignity. He loves good fiction. He loves cats. He’s a good man through and through.

And I think I might have married him.

Ellen Vrana is a writer whose work has been published by the Huffington Post and Slate. Read more from Quora below: