Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Jackie O (oh Jackie)

I have found a really good book club -- it is virtual (though the cocktails usually associated with in person book clubs would be nice Kris) and it is really only one other person.  The reason I find it good is because we usually like and dislike the same books and actually read them and discuss them.  I mean there is nothing quite like reading a book and then sharing that with another person.  I am a total bibliophile. The cocktails in any other book club I tried led to less talk about the book, or my small pet peeve people who never read any part of the book.  I mean why not just say let's get drinks and not a book club. 

Our recent book club selection is "Mrs. Kennedy and Me" - it is written by the Secret Service agent who was assigned to her detail when she was First Lady.  I must admit I do not worship at the Kennedy altar like so many do.  I have come to respect the difficult JFK presidency, Bay of Pigs/Cuban Missile Crisis/Soviets everywhere trying to push for greater domination/Berlin/Civil Rights/Vietnam, and the man never even got to finish his first term!!!!  I have come to believe, sorry Oliver Stone - good movie though, that the lone gunman theory actually is quite plausible and likely - conspiracy theories just don't work for me, especially when they get so many people - come on someone is talking and screwing it up.  Maybe it is just really scary that it did not take the Cuban expats, CIA, Kennedy Sr Mob connection, Marilyn along with a very convincing Gary Oldman character to kill one president.  It is scarier that it only took one man, a set of bad circumstances and a president who had to visit a state because re-election was not looking so good.

I also like Jackie - but something there always put me off a little.  This book looked interesting and after a few books that were so dark with characters so unlikable (could not finish Casual Vacancy - could care less about every character and apparently I never even made it to the nastiest scene) that I just did not want to escape to with my reading.  When my friend suggested this book for our club, and she looks like Jackie in some ways - possibly the same panache and smile, it was a welcome and much needed diversion.  This book is light and I am so enjoying globe trotting and entertaining with Mrs. Kennedy.  I find myself thinking that they had a marriage that was not bad but it was more of a partnership - with both of them choosing to live apart for a good part of the week, yet good friends and bound kindly to one another when they needed to be.  She wanted to travel and shop, to live her life as her privileged background had allowed her to -- yet as First Lady her public appeal was a tough cross to bear for a woman who was shy.  I also will always remain slightly puzzled by her next choice of husband -- stop it she did not need the money, another friend said maybe she just needed to not be JFKs widow for her and her children for a while. The horror of the day she sat next to her husband, not the president to her, and he was shot is unimaginable to me. 

I also am wondering where the world started to spin in a less favorable direction.  In all that was going on in the world that JFK had to deal with, the world welcomed the young American and his fashionable wife.  In India and Pakistan she was welcomed by all the people.  The fundamentalists had not taken over so her cap sleeves in public were not fatwa material in Karachi.  The world, despite the troubles that were happening (Eastern bloc, Korea and Vietnam, only 20 years post WW2) seemed to be opening up , looking at this couple for the promise they represented.

This weekend as we remember Dr Martin Luther King, another man whose vision of promise and fulfillment for all people regardless of color/creed/belief, what do we want to move forward with?  Do we let the assassins who took JFK, MLK, RFK and others also kill what they stood for - positive change - and leave us with just that moment of death? Do we remain focused on what is going wrong without seeing where we can go right?  Do we embrace the grace of Jackie and even Michelle Obama and teach our daughters that they can be and do anything (First Lady or President) or do we tell her not to get on bus in India (or any other place since violence may happen to them)? There is something in this book that is really sparking my desire for a world that embraces beauty and those who have a dream.  I saw a great sign in honor of the young woman who was brutally raped and killed on a bus in India it said "do not tell your daughters to stay home - tell yours sons to behave well when they go out" -- I can raise boys who appreciate and treat women like they are all First Ladies (and Presidents) and who ensure their dreams involve making the world better for being in it whether they are First Husbands or Presidents or just voting for those offices.  


"where have you gone Joe Dimaggio - our nation turns it's lonely eyes to you"...Simon/Garfunkel

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