Mike, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

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My love affair with Mike McCurry is purely cerebral and totally unrequited; I'm a photo editor working in the bowels of the Time & Life building, and the official White House spokesman doesn't even know I exist. Yet I feel him speaking to me each time he faces the press in that briefing room. He is witty and articulate in a way I've often longed to be, thinking on his feet, wearing many hats, yet never sacrificing his integrity and his own sense of right and wrong.

Colleagues in the newsroom say I watched his performances with the reverence of a bobby-soxer at a Sinatra concert, and on some level, they're right. I loved that he constantly surprised me, not just with his antics, but with his candor and his wit. I loved the way he scratched his nose when he was uncomfortable. I loved to watch his brain work, never able to predict what he would do next.

His task wasn't an easy one, and though the press might sometimes have wished for more revealing answers, Mike managed to preserve his dignity in a situation fraught with scandal. When probed for details, McCurry often pled ignorance, saying the President's lawyers have "kept me in a position to be honest when I say I don't have any information." Mike chose not to know, and in that way he may have been more attuned to the American people than the reporters digging for dirt. He protected us with his ignorance; he made me feel he was one of us.

Other people collect photos of sports figures and movie stars. The walls of my cubicle are decorated with pictures of my hero: Mike sporting a Halloween tie; Mike tanned and well rested in Africa; Mike somber as he announced Ron Brown's death; Mike playing anonymous source with a paper bag over his head . Now he is leaving. As I try to envision life without my daily dose of Mike McCurry I feel an emptiness that -- with all due respect to Joe Lockhart's abilities -- won't soon be filled. When all is said and done, I'm a sucker for blue eyes.

TIME Daily: Mike McCurry: Exit Podium Left