One Thing Leads To Another

My friend Jonah sent me the above text. It led — ineluctably — to the following:

Today we acknowledge the passing of Walter Stanley Gates, one of the most scandal-plagued individuals in American history.

Born in 1948 in Walnut Grove, GA, Gates was a mischievous child who spent much of his youth in and out of juvenile detention. It was only when he discovered his natural aptitude for athletics (while outrunning the entire Walnut Grove police force during a shoplifting spree) that young Gates managed to find some direction. A fluid runner known for his almost watery gait, he distinguished himself on the high school cross country team, earned a track scholarship to Ball State University, and went on to win the silver medal in the 1500m at the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland.

After retiring from competitive track, Gates drifted around for a couple of years before landing at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., which had recently gained public attention following a break-in at the Democratic National Committee whose offices were headquartered there. Drawn like a maladjusted moth to the infernal flame of the hotel’s newfound notoriety, Walter Gates felt right at home at the Watergate and immediately started “running” with a bad crowd.

Gates got his start as a bellhop, using the few minutes he’d spend escorting guests from the front desk to their rooms to ingratiate himself with what were often well-heeled and well-connected celebrities from the worlds of sports, entertainment and politics. He immediately set about parlaying his international athletics connections to form what was, at the time, the largest anabolic steroid ring in existence. Gates was busted in a sting operation conducted by the World Anti Doping Association and stripped of his Commonwealth Games medal. [This episode would later come to be known as Watergate WADA-Gate.] It is believed that powerful forces affiliated with the NFL’s Washington Redskins and NBA’s Capital Bullets — teams whose players Gates chose not to inform against — pulled strings to keep him from doing any jail time, instilling in Gates a sense of invulnerability and setting in motion a now legendary compendium of crimes.

Rather than try to rehabilitate the hotel’s image, the Watergate’s owners (rumored to be members of the Illuminati) instead attempted to capitalize on the building’s burgeoning reputation as ground zero for nefarious machinations by making Walter Gates the hotel’s unofficial poster boy. (The synchronicity between Gates’s name and that of the hotel only served to reinforce the owners’ sense of dark prophecy.) And so began Gates’s rise through the ranks of the Watergate staff.

From bellhop he was promoted to the restaurant’s maître d’. Gates, however, bristled at being paraded around like a “naughty mascot” (his words). He also despised the public nature of his new position. As bellhop, access to guests’ rooms and the ability to conduct deals behind closed doors were key to his criminal enterprise. As maître d’ his mere presence increased the restaurant’s popularity tenfold, bringing him face t0 face with the exact people with whom he ached to conspire. However, the window of opportunity to hatch schemes was far too small. The frustration ate at Gates. And so, in an act of defiance against his employers, Gates organized a strike, enlisting the entirety of the hotel’s restaurant personnel in his cause. [Watergate Waiter-Gate]

Once the strike was resolved (with Gates reaping the lion’s share of concessions from management), he was transferred to the special events department. There he briefly flourished, expanding the hotel’s roster of activities beyond conventions, weddings and high school proms to include more extravagant affairs, such as the International Ballroom Dancing Championships. In the competition’s second year, Gates himself entered (in disguise), performing with an unknown Romanian beauty. The pair won, dancing a passable (but far from exemplary) routine to Strauss’s “The Blue Danube.” Gates was, however, soon disqualified when it was revealed that he had bribed the judges and paid several competitors to “take a dive.” [Watergate Waltzer-Gate]

His taste for competition reignited, Gates decided to try his hand at boxing. A lifetime ban from the D.C. Athletic Commission meant his only recourse was to organize a short-lived underground fight club in the basement of the Watergate Hotel. It would seem that the sweet science proved a bitter pill for Gates, as he retired with a welterweight record of 1–8. However it is widely believed that Gates threw most of his bouts, helping mafia contacts (and Gates himself) turn a tidy profit betting on his opponents. [Watergate Welterweight-Gate]

An avid outdoorsman, Gates liked to spend his “vacations” (which often coincided with D.C. law enforcement closing in on him) fly fishing in the waters of Lake Okeechobee in Florida. So enchanted was he by these peaceful hours communing with nature that he decided to manufacture his own line of fly fishing apparel. His design innovations — such as watertight zippers and a lure bandolier — showed real promise. But the line was discontinued after Gates was caught embezzling funds from his employers. [Watergate Wader-Gate & Gaiter-Gate, respectively]

Illicit fishing gear wasn’t the only thing Gates was funneling through the hotel. His time in the Florida swamps also inspired him to start trafficking in exotic animals, a scheme that was accidentally uncovered when a pipe burst in the laundry facilities, causing hundreds of baby reptiles to stream out through a sewer drain near the hotel’s entrance, stopping traffic on Virginia Avenue for nearly six hours. [The Great Watergate Gator Grate Gate]

Where a more circumspect criminal might lay low after so many run-ins with the law, Gates almost always doubled down when the heat was on, and soon found himself embroiled in a rapid-fire string of scandals.

There was the black market fur-trading operation. [Watergate Otter-Gate]

And the time he stole every miniature Frosted Flakes cereal box from the hotel’s breakfast bar for an entire year. [Watergate Grrrrreat-Gate]

And the episode when he partnered with a disgraced dentist, sending guests to the hotel’s spa for discounted — and totally ineffectual — teeth-bleaching treatments. [Watergate Whiter-Gate]

Possessed of a sexual appetite to match his criminal one, Gates was once caught in a ménage à trois with Julie and Tricia Nixon, the socialite offspring of Tricky Dick himself. [Watergate Daughter-Gate]

Gates is also suspected of intentionally triggering a fruit fly infestation in the hotel, then selling purloined bug-killing implements to harried guests at an outrageous markup. [Watergate Swatter-Gate]

He was even busted for impersonating the actor Gabe Kaplan, a frequent guest of the hotel. [Watergate Welcome-Back-Kotter-Gate]

Most recently he self-published a series of blatantly plagiarized young adult novels featuring an orphaned warlock named Larry who gets sent to a secret summer camp to learn sorcery in order to defeat the evil Moldevort. [Watergate Potter-Gate]

An inveterate huckster with a lifelong disdain for authority, it appears that Gates’s conscience finally got the better of him. On Tuesday, November 10th, 2015, Gates took his own life in the Watergate Hotel’s staff quarters where he had lived on and off since 1972, dying from a gunshot wound. (The headline in The WSJ read simply: “WSG, Dead By GSW”.)

The coroner’s report showed that Gates shot himself with a Walther P38, though the weapon was never recovered, leading many to believe that he was, in fact, murdered. [Watergate Walther-Gate]

Though he left no suicide note, he did leave the faucet on in the bathroom, leading to tens of thousands of dollars in damage. [Watergate Water-Gate]

And as a final act of nose-thumbery, he rigged a timer to a small amount of C8 explosive attached to the gate of the hotel’s petting zoo. The controlled blast allowed eight prize-winning North American Cashmeres to escape. [Watergate Gate-Gate / Goat-Gate / Goat-Gate-Gate — depending on your sources]

His litany of scandals have come to be known collectively as the Watergate Walter Gates-Gates and/or Walter Gates Watergate Gates, or WGWGGs for short, spawning the slang term “Wiggy Wigs,” used to describe a string of outrageous crimes perpetrated by a solitary individual. (Wiggy Wigs feature prominently on WikiLeaks.)

Perhaps most surprising of all was the discovery, after Gates’s death, of an adoring family residing on the banks of Lake Okeechobee, who apparently knew nothing at all of his life of crime, nor his strange, scandalous affiliation with the Watergate Hotel.

Gates is survived by a wife, Wanda Gates, a son, Wally Gates, and a daughter, Becky.

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