After all these years, there is a night to remember on Northeast Knott Street which remains one of the strangest press conferences in Portland history.
Twenty-four hours after Bill Clinton announced he was not having “sex” with Monica Lewinsky – and 10 minutes before the President gave his 1998 State of the Union address – Andy Bleiler went out on his porch with his aggrieved wife.
Bleiler, who moved to Portland in 1994, told the world he had a five-year affair with Lewinsky, whom he first met at Beverly Hills High School, and with whom he had often slept then. that she was a student at Lewis & Clark College.
That day I was there. My lede column:
“Determined to prove Tonya Harding was no fluke, Portland coughed up another furball on Tuesday, Andy Bleiler’s ponytail.”
Now Kate Nason, the former wife of the aforementioned hairball, has revealed her side of the story, a recently released audiobook, Everything is perfect.
Nason lives in Portland and is now married to artist Tad Savinar. She largely survived the Bleiler affair and this press conference, with dignity intact. She did not object when Terry Giles, the lawyer who hosted the event, claimed Lewinsky had joked three years earlier that she would have her presidential knee pads ready when she showed up for her internship at the White House.
And Kate didn’t break her countenance when her then-husband Bleiler, a philander stage director at a Vancouver high school, explained why he was waving to the press:
âI just know what I know,â Bleiler said. “I couldn’t in a good conscience sit on this thing.”
Everything is perfect probes the gaping holes in that consciousness and how much Nason knew about Bleiler’s relationships with his colleagues, former students and family babysitters.
âI stood next to the man I married, for better or for worse, as he confessed to his affair,â she says in the Audible Original audiobook. âHe admitted his guilt in a way his president couldn’t. For a moment, I took heart, hoping everything would be okay.
“But beneath that hope, there was something deeper, warmer: I despised it.”
Join the club. Bleiler was much scarier than the presidential election cigar lover. He was six years younger than Nason when they met in 1988, and she found it hard to understand why this “Adonis in a tool belt” – as one of his gay friends describes it – would be attracted to a 31 year old single mother.
She married him against her better judgment, she repeatedly notes. âMy husband’s ability to lie and cheat was equal to mine to cheat,â says Nason. âI doubted myself. I denied my intuition.
In her account, her husband, whom she calls “Charlie” throughout the nine-hour audiobook, was not only chatting with a colleague, but with “Mallory,” a former student of her at Beverly Hills High. School, who then attended Lewis & Clark College. (The book is full of pseudonyms. I don’t pretend to understand the need for them.)
Lewinsky often volunteered to babysit her two children, and Nason naively thought that she and Lewinsky were great friends: âI enjoyed Mallory’s lanky humor. She always made me laugh and always made me blush. Nason even shared her suspicions about her husband’s marital infidelity with Monica, especially after Lewinsky marked the internship and started calling her daily from DC: âShe was always reassuring. – He would never cheat on you, Kate. He loves you so much. ‘”
And when did the news of Bill Clinton and the blue dress fall?
“I now understood all the months she had called me from Washington,” Nason tells us. “Her long hours of friendship were all an attempt to stage, to use me, my confidences, to keep an eye on her lover, my husband. Another betrayal. I was annoyed by her duplicity, my husband’s lies and their collusion to deceive me.
Everything is perfect is Nason’s attempt to make sense of what made her stay with Bleiler – they finally divorced in 1999 – and what brought her with that tortured smile on that porch.
He hangs out more than once. There is too much Rumi poetry and too many occasions where Nason decides that the gods speak to him through the numbers on his bedside clock.
But there’s also a vengeful reflection we haven’t heard on Knott Street or Interior edition.
âWe had to come forward, for all kinds of reasons,â says Nason. âI thought I knew something important. I knew Mallory was someone who had no qualms about having an affair with a married man.
“Looking back, I wonder, would I have repeated things I thought Mallory had said jokingly to me about the President if I had known that my uncle’s lawyer would arm them and turn them against her?” I do not know. I was so blinded by my husband’s affairs and desperate to understand his role in my current nightmare, at the time everything seemed relevant to me.
Nason would eventually turn over most of her Monica material to independent lawyer Kenneth Starr, and sell the rest to a souvenir stall, including the “racy handwritten notes outlining all the things she’d like to do to. [Nasonâs husband] the next time they met.
Ten years later, Lewinsky would send a low-key note of apology, asking for his old friend’s forgiveness. Guess it didn’t provide the closure Nason wanted Everything is perfect.
LISTEN: Everything is perfect by Kate Nason (Audible Original)