Here’s my new goal: I want to write a tell-all book and be widely celebrated for how well I keep secrets.
That’s a trick I’d really love to a master, like sawing the last thin remnants of a reputation in half and having it appear whole.
Yes, of course, I’m talking about Screaming Mimi, the JFK intern who decided to wait until everybody was dead (guess daughters don’t count, huh, Mimi?) and write a book with information nobody can prove but that fascinates us all. It doesn’t say much for her, and, I suppose, it says even less about us.
Here’s an excerpt from The Daily Mail, one of the places to which she sold the rights.
Okay, okay, it says less about me—I’ve been watching the whole thing with open-mouthed horror and fascination, but not as open-mouthed as Mimi was when she was in D.C., apparently.
What’s getting to me is that otherwise sensible people are claiming that Miss Mimi is the epitome of of the women’s movement and feminist thinking. At first that made me laugh, but it started happening enough to become baffling.
Here is what I have heard from people whose perspectives I often, if not always, admire, and here’s what I would like to say to them:
They say: “She is a perfect woman because she is taking responsibility for her own sexuality.” To which I simply want to say: You still want a girl who sings “Just Call Me Angel of the Morning” on the way home from a sleazy tryst?
They say: “She didn’t sell the story earlier as she could have done.” To which I want to say: Maybe she didn’t need the money earlier, or maybe she waited until people who could refute her story were dead.
They say: “She’s not blaming anyone else for her sexual activities. She is saying she would do it all over again—and do it all over him—given the opportunity, and that is being courageous.” To which I want to say: So girls who are brought into the company of the most powerful men in the world get to trade sex for a brush with power and that’s a good thing?
They say: “She might have been a debutante who went to posh private girls’ schools and never once kissed a boy, but she was brave enough to perform oral sex, in public, on a man she didn’t love at the whim of the man she adored, which shows an admirable lack of pesky prudishness.” To which I want to say: That is profound degradation, not liberation; that is abuse, not choice; that is the furthest from an act of affection and respect you can get. And for her to say that, given the chance, she’d “do it all over again” is not so classy.
They say: “She has no guilt about having a long-term affair with a married man because she was terribly young when she did it, so she couldn’t be responsible for committing adultery, even though she accepts responsibility for everything else—she didn’t think of it as adultery, so it doesn’t count.” To which I want to say: And that’s exactly what proves that she was too young to screw around with, as we all were when we entered into relationships with people who were both far older and far more powerful than we were. She didn’t even know what she was doing, and even now is denying the harm she might have done to a marriage. Oh, maybe it didn’t matter, as the historians say. But at least she should own up, in retrospect, and not use her youth in a fan-dance here, if she’s not using it anywhere else.
The fact that Mimi is more or less saying to smart and ambitious 19-year-olds that they should do whatever those who are in power want them to do—that it’s JUST GREAT to do whatever demeaning, miserable thing anybody who they find sexy and breathtaking wants them to do—because they can make money from it much later and then be congratulated for not having revealed the secret sooner doesn’t make me happy.
But it did make me write a version of what it might have been like if Lincoln’s intern came out with her book after 147 years while looking as good as Mimi still looks now.