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Jenna + Henry: Hubbub and Hurrahs

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The sweep of the second hand around MSNBC's broadcast clock is gliding past deadly storms, a housing market in crisis, Michael Vick in limbo -- even rising milk prices! Oh, and there's a war in Iraq.

So just how giddy are we supposed to get about the next story? You know, the one about St. Christopher's grad Henry Hager, of the Hagers, raised on astute manners and Republican principles, and how he's engaged to Jenna Bush.

Is Henry our town's version of Prince Harry? Or Elliott Yamin? We threw a parade for that one. No, breezy reservation rules Richmond when outlandishness doesn't. Gushing is done behind closed doors, and definitely not on a satellite.

I'm on a satellite.

In my right ear, MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing is asking about Jenna's ring. I have no idea. "Typical guy!" Jansing chides. I chuckle back. Oh, Chris!

It's Friday afternoon, Aug. 17, about 3:20 p.m. I'm standing in a blocked-off lane on Bank Street behind the federal courthouse, where satellite trucks had gathered to wait for Michael Vick's fate. The Vick reporter cools his heels, and it's my turn at bat. It feels like 99 degrees, and there are lights on me and my jacket and tie, and I'm talking about Jenna and Henry.

Earlier I'd called Henry's father, John, Virginia's former lieutenant governor and chairman of the states' Republican Party. He offers: "We're very excited." … these are "two great kids" … both families are "equally enthusiastic" … this is a "happy time."

Got it. No details.

He asks what time I'll be on MSNBC.

And now I'm picturing him in his Windsor Farms den, watching me talking very publicly about a very public engagement that will portend, insist — dictate! — the utmost in discretion and privacy.

Word is that Henry's St. Christopher's buddies have made a pact not to talk with media. Perhaps they should turn down an invitation to a White House wedding (it would be the first in 36 years) to avoid being photographed by the world press.

My first interview is over, and I'm waiting for the next talking-head spot, coming up in about an hour. My cell phone rings. "Jason, can you get any information on the ring?" pleads Steve Forrest, a senior producer with MSNBC, speaking from New York.

A very private engagement, indeed.

Henry hasn't returned a call from Style. And I don't have the line to Jenna. My sources have nothing on the rock (I should speculate that it's a family heirloom). But I do discover that Henry's mother's ham biscuits are quite popular at parties. S



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