He was shorter than me - and, believe me, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton is no giant.
Secondly, Omar Bongo had a wicked sense of humour. He really did.
I was not one of the journalists in Bongo's francophone circle, but he shared jokes with all and sundry and sounded very pleased with his punch-lines and stories.
I have been wracking my brain to recall our first encounter.
Was it at an African summit, somewhere on the continent, when we waited hours to interview him?
Or was it while covering a return to multiparty elections in Gabon in 1993, killing time in a marble-tiled waiting room somewhere in Libreville?
Gabon, incidentally, was the only African country I have visited where the candidates - presidential and other - appeared to campaign in four-wheel drive vehicles, hardly stopping to get down and talk to prospective voters.