Unimpeachably Bill

All things considered, Bill Clinton is getting along famously these days. The Bill Clinton who lives in Laurel, that is.

January 18, 1999|By ROB HIAASEN | ROB HIAASEN,SUN STAFF

This week, the U.S. Senate resumes the impeachment trial of the president of the United States, who, if convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, would become the first president removed from office.

This is no time for William Clinton to be fussing with his hair.

"Mr. Clinton basically likes it all off," says stylist Darryl Adams at Unique Creations With Hair in Laurel. Bill Clinton comes in every other Tuesday, always at 7: 30 p.m., to sit for a $14 cut called "The Temple Taper." Clinton always leaves an extra four dollars.

"Mr. Clinton is a big tipper, absolutely," says Adams, who's been cutting Clinton's hair since 1992. "I broadcast it all the time when he comes in: `Bill Clinton, you're next!' Everyone gets stirred up."

Yes, it's a running joke in the life and times of citizen William (No Middle Name) Clinton, who lives on Park Avenue in Laurel roughly 20 miles from the William Jefferson Clinton who lives on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

(Another William J. Clinton is listed in the Washington directory. "I'm either in a Cabinet meeting, solving a world crisis or out with Monica," says his answering machine.)

But there's just one William Clinton in the Baltimore area phone book.

"I go by `Bill,' " Clinton says. "I learned a long time ago not to introduce myself as Bill Clinton."

But there's no escaping the name recognition, the Clinton jokes, the guy who called the house to say he was George Bush (clever!), the double-takes from merchants who see BILL CLINTON embossed on his American Express Gold Card. In some places he goes, Clinton says, they aren't used to seeing an American Express Gold Card under any name.

Alert readers have detected by his photograph that this Bill Clinton is black.

"People get excited and they want to meet him" when they hear his name, says Clinton's wife, Patricia. "But he's much different."

The two Bill Clintons do not resemble one another. This Clinton doesn't have gray hair (he barely has hair). His jaw doesn't jut or strut; he doesn't bite his lip to show he's determined.

If anything, Patricia Clinton says, "my husband thinks he looks like Cuba Gooding Jr. You know that scene in `Jerry Maguire' where Cuba is wearing just a towel around his waist ?" We have the picture, thanks.

When a man is hunkered down in a barber's chair, there's time to study his features. Bill Clinton looks young, younger than his 37 years. The man clearly cares about his appearance, given his frequent haircuts and manicures at the soft hands of Anne Balogun.

"He's got nice hands. Not too masculine, not too soft. Good to touch," she says. After the trim and file job, she massages Clinton's hands. This is a good thing.

"I think that's why he has it done," she says. Makes him sleepy, too.

But Clinton looks wide awake now. And he does look a little like Cuba Gooding -- with his clothes on.

"I'm so glad Patricia shared that with you," Clinton says, laughing. But what are wives for? What are reporters for? Plus, there are no secrets in a barbershop.

Beyond the name itself, the two Bill Clintons are connected by a few bare threads. Laurel's Clinton has no Chelsea, Hillary or Roger in his family tree. But he does have a friend from his bowling league with the last name of Gore. And another friend is named Thomas Jefferson, and he's got an American Express card, too.

"I don't make any comments about their names," Clinton says. "I sympathize."

Both Bill Clintons play golf. Both are Democrats. Both love college basketball. Both were at the MCI Center last year when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls played the Washington Wizards (though neither was introduced).

Clinton is president; Clinton is a vice president -- of True Systems, a Vienna, Va.-based computer company, which he co-owns. His name sometimes comes in handy.

"It's great for marketing," he says. Clients are told "Bill Clinton's group is going to come in and help you with your computers," Clinton says.

People don't forget a famous name. "People see me -- a black Bill Clinton -- and they remember me."

Citizen Clinton has never held public office. But he was on the student council at Milford Mill High School (Class of '79), where he was in charge of a fund-raising committee. To his best recollection, the attorney general's office did not become involved.

On the draft: "I missed it."

On inhaling: "I didn't, either."

On e-mail: "I always add to my address: `NOT THAT BILL -- HE HAS HIS OWN PROBLEMS.' "

President Clinton likes fast food; vice president Clinton once managed a Burger King on Reisterstown Road. President Clinton testified under oath in the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit; vice president Clinton testified under oath in a forgotten worker's compensation case.

According to his testimony at Unique Creations With Hair, this Clinton has always told the truth. "Well," he demurs, "better talk to Patricia about that. `Slick Willie' she sometimes calls me."

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