On the evening of Jan. 16, 1991, I sat between my fiancé Michael and my father on a coral-silk brocade couch in Palm Beach as we watched television in my aging uncle’s claustrophobically small and poorly air-conditioned living room. We were in Florida to celebrate my 34th birthday earlier that week and to introduce Michael to my uncle, my father’s older brother.

We’d returned from what was, for the three of us northerners, a very early dinner and what was, for my uncle, a very late one. My uncle wanted to check the weather – which is what folks who live in Florida do during the winter to reassure themselves that the rest of the country is in constant misery – and President H.W. George Bush appeared.

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