I Actually Have an Elaine Chao Story (COVID)




Elaine Chao was Secretary of Labor.

I was working on Unseenamerica for Bread and Roses

Cultural program (1199SEIU).

People told their stories with photos showing

what they see.  Elaine Chao invited us

to exhibit the pictures at the Department of Labor.

At the opening I stood with Elaine Chao. She was Brooks Brothers

blue. I wore an asymmetrical purple silk dress by

a Rasta friend who had a tiny funky store downtown.


I’m coming to New York in a week said Elaine Chao.

And then, the remarkable next sentence:

Let’s go out to lunch and go shopping.  Can you

take me to the man who made your dress?

I knew I’d want to tell the I Went Shopping with Elaine Chao

story one day so I said YES.


I called my friend and told him not to smoke in the store

when I brought Elaine Chao there he did not know her

and I also explained that she had enough money

to buy a dress that could pay his rent

and amazingly enough, we went out to lunch

and although I didn’t like her much

she did seem narrative worthy and we went to the store

bought three dresses I’m sure she never wore them

my friend was good with his rent for a while and yesterday

when she resigned from the Trump administration

she was wearing her Brooks Brothers suit.

Esther Cohen
Let me tell you why I'm here, and why I hope you'll join me. I am here to poem, to play with words, to tell stories when I can, and to ask you for yours. Words are what I love, how I see, and what I say. Words are how I know my life, and how I find my friends. I'm here to ask you to join me. Right here. To send me your stories, and your poems. And to read mine when you can.


  1. Hi Esther

    Funny story. Life has a way of delivering these nuggets that you never know will sit in the spotlight for a moment or two. Lovely! And I really loved tht Brooks Brother suit.


  2. Love this!

    I was amazed to find out that McConnell and Chao are married.

    Seems an odd couple to me. But, maybe they are both political animals and more Brooks Brothers than not!

  3. Love it, Esther. Thanks. I’m going to share it with friends and relatives who’ve met you. They need the smile too.

    1. Kathleen has a great question…did she model them for you…?

      When I learned that Elaine Chao is married to Mitch McConnell, I wondered, isn’t there a conflict of interest? job in Congress married to job with the Executive…?

  4. I never met Chao, never wanted to do so, and certainly would never have lunch with her. You’re much more adventurous than I am, or perhaps more curious, in a funky way. Just stay safe, my friend.

  5. And now she can wear them! She and Mitch can go wild, admittedly that’s hard to picture.
    Or maybe once there are parties again (as if GOP stopped), she’ll go as Esther Cohen.
    I have a picture of Ann-as-Esther when you lent me a raincoat and hat.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: