As Palmer suggested, Zalika thought long and hard about their future together, and tried to realistically imagine what the future would hold for them as a couple when Palmer runs for President, and beyond.
Zalika recalled that many years prior, there was a bit of a stir in the media when a recorded telephone conversation between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles was made public. Zalika had found a portion of the conversation hilarious, and had made friends and co-workers burst into laughter with her impressions of the couple. Even Palmer. Her impression had become butchered over time, misquoted and over-exaggerated for effect. One evening, while Zalika and Palmer dined privately, the conversation turned to the royal couple and Zalika had an occasion to once again do her impression.
Zalika as Prince Charles: "When I die, I want to come back as a pair of your knickers!"Palmer had thrown his head back and howled with laughter, his mouth wide open and filled with half-chewed steak and potatoes. Zalika was at once repulsed and highly amused at the sight of the dignified Palmer struggling to keep his food in his mouth. She laughed until tears came to her eyes as Palmer pleaded "Stop! You're going to make me choke!" They'd both had to take a break from eating in order to compose themselves once again.
Zalika as Camilla Parker Bowles: "Ooooooooh Darling!"
So it's not so funny now. Zalika imagined what it would be like if a recording of one of her late night conversations with Palmer were made public. Humiliation would ensue. Zalika winced as she imagined her mother's reaction, and worse yet her father's reaction, and the reactions of all of the people that she knows and cares about. She and Palmer would have to be a lot more careful. Zalika thought about reporters and their cameras with long-range telephoto lenses, and imagined their lives behind locked doors, constantly checking to make sure that the windows are closed and the curtains pulled. Ok, she thought, so that's the easy part.
The hard part was looking at her own life through a microscope, and imagining how Palmer's political rivals would characterize her based upon her past actions. She had told Palmer before that when she was in college, she did a lot of dumb shit. She had told him some of the more humorous stories and they had both laughed. But there were some things that she didn't tell him, and had never intended to, until now. Palmer had known since he was a child that he wanted to be President one day, and was careful about what he did. And when he did mess up, he had help and support to make his mess go away. Zalika had gone to a college that was several states away from where she grew up, in a place where she didn't know anyone. She had looked at it as an opportunity to re-invent herself. The problem was that she didn't know who she wanted to be. So she tried a lot of things, and made a lot of dumb mistakes. Never did she think that her actions would one day potentially be looked at under intense scrutiny.
She had made pretty good grades, but she had also partied. She was particularly proud of her body back then, and wore a lot of revealing clothing. "Ok", she thought, "there are probably going to be photos of a scantily clad drunk me that surface - what else"? She thought about her Statistics class and how she had really struggled at first, until she went to her professor for help. She ended up making an A in the class, but "they" would probably say that it was more because of the relationship that she had then carried on with her professor than about the work that she'd done to earn the A. Then she thought about the polaroid photos that she had taken for an ex, and how after they'd broken up she'd asked for the photos and he'd told her that he had already gotten rid of them. Did he really get rid of them? "Okay, if those photos surface, that could be a scandal, so that's something that I definitely need to make Palmer aware of", she thought. She imagined those photos of her younger self in the pages of a magazine or on an internet website, and again imagined her parents' reactions. She shuddered.
She thought long and hard about her past, even those parts that she didn't like to remember, and she felt fear and dread as she imagined her upcoming conversation with Palmer.