Mimi and “Mr. President”

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.

Mimi, fifty years after her affair with the handsome president

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.

 

 

 

5 Responses to “Mimi and “Mr. President””

  1. Teri says:

    Geri, you say…..

    “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.”

    A true woman of substance is known by the actions which build her, and the sisterhood, up.

    How do you think Caroline Kennedy was made to feel by this so-called “transfixing” revelation? Perhaps, in your obvious fascination with JFK and his sordid dalliances, the thought that his daughter might find this story insensitive and crass had never occured to you before?

    True, we don’t need to judge the weak moments in other women’s lives……But, we sure the hell don’t need to celebrate them either.

    If Marian is the best subject you can fnd for your “Fab Over Fifty” blog about women of substance, perhaps you need to open your eyes a little wider and find a woman whose actions we can truly celebrate.

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    • geri says:

      Hi Teri,

      I was not “celebrating” Mimi, but commenting on our reactions in 2012 to what she did a half century ago. What she is at 68 is probably worlds different than what she was at 19. She might very well be or not be a woman of substance now, but that was not the point of my comments. I thought I made my point clear in the last two paragraphs.

      “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.”

      As for Caroline Kennedy, she’s been hearing and reading about her father since she learned to read. My blog wasn’t about her or her feelings, either. Mimi had an affair with her father fifty years ago. I would guess that Caroline, a smart and classy woman, holds no animosity towards the 68-year-old Mimi.

      Fab Over Fifty celebrates women of substance every day. My blog consists of my personal observations and feelings about subjects and people that I think would interest my FOFriends. I don’t expect everyone to see things the way I do, and I welcome your comments.

      Best,
      Geri

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  2. Caityranda says:

    I think it all comes down to simply being human and realizing we are all flawed and do make mistakes. We really are more alike than different.

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  3. Kate Line Snider says:

    I’m not passing judgement on anybody. I was appallingly stupid at nineteen. Nineteen year olds have terminally bad judgement . In our family of five children and numerous grandchildren, nineteen is referred to, for good reason, as “The Age of the Asshole”.

    Hopefully, after sixty, we improve.

    I do not have a great deal respect for ex-nineteen-year-old-sluts selling sensationalist documents revealing all. Remember it, fondly or not, but shut up about it.

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  4. Ione says:

    I, first, felt the book should not have been written. Women seem to continue to destroy our own esteem and contribute to making us, as a whole, appear as nothing more than vessels for men to use whenever they feel the need. However, after reading your blog I have come to be more understanding of the dynamics in play at the time. I, also, have began to remember cringe inducing times of my youth and wish I had some women’s support and confort when I feel bad about past indiscretions. Somehow our sisters, during the 70’s seem to have accomplished that feeling of caring for each other and helping our sex become thought of as equal human beings. That seems to be lost with so much trash talking and the Real Housewives, Jersey Shore franchises.

    Many of the remarks I’ve read on different web sites seem to be still enthralled with the Kennedys and seem to have immature esteem for them. We know enough about the Kennedys to know they were very flawed people who lived as most of us can’t imagine. I hope the author of the book gets some closure from writing the book. She still seems to be in his clutches. She needs to escape.

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