When JFK was president, we obsessed over wife Jackie’s pillbox hats and elegant jewels, cooed over John John’s toddler antics in the Oval Office and mourned when the beautiful couple lost their infant son, Patrick. We eagerly watched the family’s touch football games in Hyannisport and wondered aloud what family patriarch, Joe, thought about after his stroke. What we wouldn’t give to be a White House intern when we got to college. Now, five decades later, one of those interns–then 19-year-old Marion Beardsley –is revealing details of her 18-month affair with “The President.”
I watched Meredith Vieira’s interview with “Mimi,” now an elegant FOF with silver hair, trim figure, low-keyed voice (the Italians call it “sotto voce”) and sense of sadness about her 50-year-old assignation.
I was transfixed by Mimi’s tale, the subject of her just-released memoir, “Once Upon A Secret.” She talks about the times a limo picked her up at Wheaton College in Massachusetts to bring her to the airport for her trip to Washington. She vividly describes her pool party with JFK, when he asked her to “take care” of a key aide. She remembers the night she spent in The White House, the last night of The Cuban Missile Crisis.
Politicians’ affairs weren’t made public back in the day and I can’t imagine how we, as teenagers who idolized JFK, would have reacted. I was 16 when Jack seduced Mimi. I had never had sex and don’t think I even knew about affairs or the ravenous sexual appetites of some men. I might have flipped out at the news. Poor Jackie. Mimi would have been considered a slut.
By the time I was 19, I think I would have considered doing exactly what Mimi had done, although I still hadn’t had sex. I almost slept with good-looking Barry C. a classmate at NYU. So I imagine the wiles of JFK, not to mention his status, would have pushed me over the edge, even if I was scared to death of getting pregnant.
I’m fascinated by the venomous comments about Mimi on websites near and far. You’d think she fooled around with the commenters’ husbands or fathers. Janet Maslin also throws a few poisonous barbs Mimi’s way in her New York Times review of Mimi’s book. She pretentiously tries to analyze the mind of a 19-year-old girl in 1963, as elusive then as it is now. Interestingly, 60+ Janet should know that most girls then were different than most girls now, from the way they dressed to the way they thought and how they acted with men.
No question JFK was a sex maniac. No question he used Mimi. But Mimi herself says she was enveloped by the excitement of it all. She does not throw the book at JFK. She was devastated by his death, as was I, and the closest I came to him was when I got a peak of him riding in a motorcade down Fifth Avenue.
Many comments also criticize NBC for covering the story so intensely. Personally, I think it’s far more captivating than the comings and goings of Kim Kardashian, George Clooney, and dozens of others touched by fame.
Why do we sometimes act so sanctimoniously about the actions of others? Who among us has not been susceptible to stupidity, temptation, power, seduction, and downright flattery?
If you haven’t been, you’re a better woman than I.