CHARLESTON, W.Va. - After just a week of Internet celebrity, Parkersburg native Adam Smith is ending his popular "Texts from Hillary" website.
Smith and co-founder Stacy Lambe decided that after a shout-out from the site's namesake U.S. cabinet member, there's nowhere to go but down.
According to an April 11 post announcing the site's shutdown, "Texts from Hillary" (textsfromhillaryclinton.tumblr.com) received 83,000 shares on Facebook and gained 8,400 Twitter followers.
The site also was featured in numerous news stories, including a nod from New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.
Not bad for a week-old site with 32 posts.
"It's been a crazy week," Smith said.
Smith, 29, a communications director for the campaign finance policy group Public Campaign, created "Texts from Hillary" a week ago after chatting with Lambe in a Washington, D.C., bar.
At some point, their discussion turned to photos taken by Reuters and Time Magazine of Hillary Clinton on a C-17 plane headed for Syria. The pictures show the U.S. secretary of state wearing dark sunglasses and sending a text message.
"The photo was from October or November, but all of a sudden people were posting it on Facebook. We were talking about that photo and how great it was," Smith said.
The pair decided to use the photo for an Internet site featuring imagined text message conversations between Madame Secretary and other top officials.
"We thought it would just be a joke between the two of us," Smith said.
Some submissions were from Lambe and Smith, while others were submitted by the site's fans. An early post on "Texts from Hillary" shows President Obama sending a text message.
"Hey Hil, watchu doin?" the president supposedly texts.
"Running the world," Clinton responds.
A recent post shows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, known for his frat boy wardrobe, sending a text message while crossing a street.
"Guess what I just bought!" the billionaire asks, referring to Facebook's acquisition of the photo sharing service Instagram.
"A shirt with a big-boy collar?" Clinton texts back.
Apparently, some very important people also enjoyed the joke.
A staffer from Clinton's office emailed Smith on Monday to say the secretary loved the site. The email included Clinton's own submission for the site and invited the guys to the State Department for a short meeting.
"We said, 'This can't be real,'" Smith said.
They dismissed the email until the staff member wrote back to ask why Clinton's post wasn't on the site yet.
Face to face
Lambe and Smith found themselves at the State Department. Clinton's office, naturally, is on the top floor.
"Her suite is much more secure than the rest of the building, which makes sense. We had to give away our cellphones. They said, 'Turn your cellphones off and hand them to us,'" Smith said.
"She came out and shook our hands, said how much she loved the site. It was very brief . . . because she is the secretary of state and has much better things to do than meet with two guys from the Internet."
Although the meeting was brief, Smith and Lambe left with choice mementos: autographed copies of Clinton's submission to the site, and a photo of Clinton with the pair.
Smith said it was Clinton's idea to pose for a picture.
"I wanted to do that, but I wasn't going to ask for it," he said.
The shot shows him and Lambe texting on their cellphones while the secretary mugs for the camera. Security guards gave back the pair's phones for the picture - and then promptly took them away again.
Smith said that brief meeting with Clinton prompted his and Lambe's decision to end "Texts from Hillary." They decided it was better to burn out than fade away, as Neil Young once put it.
"When you meet the person your meme is about, you've reached your pinnacle. We don't want to be the ninth season of Seinfield," he said. The word "meme" has come to mean something funny that spreads on the Internet.
Smith's Internet fame might not fade so quickly, however. He says his parents, who still live in Parkersburg, are thrilled.
"I'm sure they've called everybody they know," he said.
Smith grew up in Parkersburg and graduated from Parkersburg South High School before leaving for college in North Carolina. He moved to Washington, D.C., after college and has worked for Public Campaign since 2006.
He said he's been a Clinton fan for a long time.
"I think she's great. She's one of the few people in the administration that hasn't had to deal with the ups and downs on the administration. I think it's a tribute to her and the work she's doing," he said.
As for his work, Smith said he would be glad to have his free time back. He said the hardest part of "Texts from Hillary" wasn't coming up with the jokes. Surprisingly enough, it's difficult to find pictures of powerful people holding cellphones.
Smith said he wanted to do more posts featuring other notable female leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Madeleine Albright but couldn't find suitable photos.
"I spent way too much time trying to find these pictures," he said