The Texas Book Festival kicked off a little after 10 a.m. Saturday as Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, in town to chat about their book “Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life,” led a packed House chamber in singing "Happy Birthday" to their mother, Laura Bush, the first chair of the Texas Book Festival.
Here are a few things we learned from their interview led by model/actress Brooklyn Decker:
Jenna’s name was almost Regan Bush, after her mother’s best friend and Austin socialite Regan Gammon. Given her grandfather’s vice-presidential gig, there is nothing about this that is not awesome.
One of Barbara Bush’s (the younger one’s) cousins once mistakenly sent an email about bikini waxing to the former first lady. “The email started ‘Yo, what up?’ and then went into a discussion of waxing versus electrolysis,” Barbara Bush, the head of the health intiative the Global Health Corps, said. “The address autofilled to my grandmother instead of me. My grandmother replied to my cousin, ‘I encourage you to stay far, far away from products like Nair, I look forward to seeing you in Maine.” (The crowd went wild.)
The publisher cautioned them about using “wild” in the title. “Our publisher who we loved told us, ‘Well, if you use wild, people will think about all the trouble you got in,’” Jenna said, “and we said, ‘...yeah...we know.’” (Cue laughter)
A Secret Service guy once doored Jenna’s husband accidentally (one assumes). “Dooring” is what happens when someone opens a car door right as a cyclist is passing. Henry Hager was on a mountain bike ride with his future father-in-law: “All Henry had was a Schwinn 10-speed from college,” Jenna said, and, “Biking with my dad is miserable, Secret Service everywhere. His chain fell off, Dad kept going, Henry got the chain back on, caught up with the pack, then one of the Secret Service guys doored him and he flew about 10 feet.” She remains amazed they ever got married.
Jenna’s water broke at her baby shower and her husband didn’t believe it. “We love pranks and Henry was always a great target,” Barbara said. “So when I called him and said, ‘Jenna’s water broke, you are going to be a father,’ he hung up on me.”
Barbara also spoke about the suicide of her high school boyfriend Kyle. “He didn’t get to live a full life,” she said. She eventually saw a healer (at the age of 34) who told her, “You can stop wishing on stars for him.”
Barbara said she talked to her father many times before making at 2011 video message about marriage equality. “I didn’t think anyone would see it (or care),” Barbara said. “Then it was on the cover of The New York Times and was playing in those screens that are on every single cab in the city.”
They told their father he was going to lose the Texas governor’s race. And the presidential election. “We were like in the sixth grade,” Jenna said. “People really like (Ann Richards) a lot and you are going to lose.” That did not happen.
When he said he was going to run for president, the girls said they both burst into tears and told him again he was going to lose and the run “was going to ruin our lives.”
Jenna hated seeing the “Jenna and Tonic” headline in the New York Post. “I hate tonic,” she said. “Jenna and Soda would have been more accurate.”
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