Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Kennedy, Wherever You Are

Reports said he flew into the night without being instrument rated. No one could believe he had been so foolish. No one except me. I had no trouble believing it, because I am just that foolish. I can’t even count the number of things I do in a week that could lead to an untimely death—I cross against the light, overload electrical outlets, stand too close to the edge of the subway platform. I don’t use sunscreen. I don’t take vitamins and I drink too much coffee.

It is a popular idea—for whatever tired farce or melodrama it still holds—that at the moment of death one’s life flashes before his eyes. I haven’t had the experience, nor can I believe that life could flash by any faster than it already does. I’d swear this morning I woke up in footed pajamas to eat a bowl of Quisp and to get ready for my first day of kindergarten. By lunchtime my friends were talking about retirement and 401K plans. But if life does pass before the eyes of the imperiled, I was there. As the little Piper airplane headed for the water, I flashed through the consciousness of John Jr. no fewer than three times. I don’t claim to have been a significant character; I was more like a Hollywood extra or an under-five-line actor. I hit my marks, said my lines, and exited on cue. The week they searched for John Kennedy Jr., his wife and sister-inlaw, these few moments remained on my mind.

My first memories of President John F. Kennedy are as a profile on the half-dollar coin. To me it is the most approachable face depicted on any American currency, even taking into account the newly designed portraits on the recently printed bills that look like they were Silly-Puttied off of a Warner Brothers cartoon storyboard.

Yes, there were other modern men on coins. President Eisenhower was on the silver dollar, but with such an ageless appearance, he may as well have been Caesar. At the time, I don’t think I knew the name of the man on the dime. They told me it was Roosevelt, but I lived on Long Island, and had visited Sagamore Hill too many times not to know that Roosevelt wore glasses, a mustache, and usually a hat. Roosevelt was a Rough Rider; he hunted elephants and charged up San Juan Hill. The man on the dime looked like the salesman from the Buster Brown store who pressed his thumb against my shoe and ask me where my toe was.

The face on the half-dollar was different. First of all, it was bigger. It was easier to see. It was a younger face. It was more like the faces on television and cereal boxes, like an athlete, a soldier or an astronaut.

When President Lyndon Baynes Johnson died, I learned a story to go with the face. In a fuzzy memory from childhood, I am sitting in the front seat of my mother’s car—children could do that then. I was concerned with the television. Why would every channel interrupt an entire day of programming to show a slow funeral procession?

“He worked with Jack Kennedy,” my mother said. I doubt my mother was alone in the way she viewed the administration of Lyndon Johnson. No matter what was accomplished, his term in office must have smacked of anticlimax, like a wedding reception after the bride and groom have departed.

“John and Bobby Kennedy were brothers,” my mother explained. “They worked together at the White House in Washington. They were good men, but they were killed.”

The Kennedys, I thought, must have been like my family. I was often told stories of how Uncle Eddie and my father worked together at the ’64 World’s Fair. From what I understood, they rode around in golf carts and checked up on the various snack bars and restaurant concessions in the park. Why anyone would want to kill two good men for doing that—whether it was Washington D.C. or Flushing Meadows, I had no idea. Nor did it explain why they would cancel Speed Racer to show the funeral of a man who had worked with them.

Is it silly to think that your family’s experience shares any of the epic quality of the Kennedys’? Every family tastes its share of tragedy and drama. I don’t know what it is like to be a Kennedy, but I know the quiet hours after a car accident. I know the hanging gloom that follows a shooting—waking in the morning to some half-assed explanation and the cover of the New York Post. It is like the announcement of understudies you find tucked into your playbill at the theater—pay attention, the show will go on as scheduled, but the characters in your life are about to change. But being a Hawkins isn’t the same as being a Kennedy. The closest thing we have to a Hyannis Port compound is my grandmother’s old house at 12 Gates Avenue. And while the Kennedys have that charming Massachusetts accent, we have a south-shore Long Island bluntness and thug cadence to our speech.

It wasn’t until I saw the footage—the great American snuff film by Abraham Zapruder—that I began to think of President Kennedy’s children. The film was shown over and over again and edited into every genre of broadcast I can remember, like it was a project required of every television producer from 1970 to 1993. I don’t know why they didn’t just create a sitcom set in the book depository and call it Patsy. Twenty six grainy seconds of film—Daly Square, Dallas—a head jerks back and to the left—moments later, news footage: a flag-draped casket, a boy lets go of his mother’s hand to salute the passing horse-drawn carriage.

My first thoughts of John F. Kennedy Jr. were not of this little boy. They were not of the toddler they called John-John playing under the desk in the oval office. My first thoughts of John F. Kennedy Jr. were of a young man, a teenager a few years older than I was who had a pretty good chance of turning on the TV at any given moment and watching his father’s murder.

I wonder if he had any memory of the salute, he was only 3 years old. But then, I remember moments from early years. My mother woke me and brought me downstairs to watch TV—something, someone had returned from the moon. It couldn’t have been Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins. I would only have been 1 1/2 years old. That is too young for memory. It could have been Conrad, Bean and Gordon, or the crew of Apollo 13, whoever they were, they were astronauts returned from the moon—my earliest memory, and in a way it too was connected to President Kennedy:

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and to do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

You can watch MTV to find out where and when punk rock began—somewhere in England with the sneer on the face of a heroin addict. The youth of America adopted it quickly enough along with the spiked and colored hair. I was right in the middle of it and I didn’t have a clue of what it was all about. I’d hear people talking here and there about the movement and whether someone or other understood what it was all about as if they were involved in something political or some type of social reform, but they weren’t. When it comes right down to it, kids dye their hair, pierce their faces and sneer because they want to ruin family photographs. Teenagers are angry people; they are hormonally out of whack. We embraced it. They even came up for a name for us—Generation X, like we were specimens in a genetics experiment. The media loved it and gave us every rationale to be as jaded as we wanted—early memories of the Vietnam War on TV, the scandal surrounding Richard Nixon, recession, the energy crisis, and general disillusion with the American dream.

If any member of my generation had a right to be an angry young man, it was John F. Kennedy Jr. Say what you will about the privileges of wealth. We all know money doesn’t keep people from being angry—it doesn’t stop people from being mean. I don’t know where John Jr. grew up—where they hid him away or what he did with his friends on weekends. I spent my teenage years driving around in cars listening to tapes of new wave bands and talking to my friends about the hard-core punk bands they listened to—bands like the Sex Pistols and The Dead Kennedys. Do you think John Jr. had ever heard of that band? Do you think he thought it was funny? Do you think he thought it was clever?

The next I heard of JFK Jr. was when he was taking the New York State Bar exam. Suddenly he was launched as the nation’s most eligible bachelor and the sexiest man alive. He took a position as an Assistant District Attorney in New York City.

My girlfriend at the time would ask her friend, the wife of an Assistant District Attorney, if she wanted company at her husband’s office softball games.

“John-John might be there babe,” she said. “You know I love you babe, but it’s John-John. He’s the only one you have to worry about. I would only leave you for John-John.”

Was I the only man who had heard this? I doubt it. All of the women said it, and if they didn’t say it, they thought it. I wondered how many wedding vows and pre-nuptial agreements had that line written in—till death or John-John do us part. I’m not saying that men of my generation don’t know how to treat a lady, or that the ladies don’t enjoy our company, but in their hearts they waited for the day John-John would come and take them away from all of this. They said they would only leave for John-John, but they wound up leaving for a lot less—firemen, bartenders, and graduate students named Phillip.

I never offered John-John much competition. Not that I wasn’t dashing, we were just different types— he was tall with a full head of wavy hair; I was average height and balding; he was leaving the District Attorney’s office to start his own magazine; I was leaving my job at a floundering video post-production house to wait tables in a midtown restaurant. And it was at this point in our lives that our paths would cross.

I remember we were on watch—John-John watch.

It is a lot like a thunderstorm watch or a tornado watch. You make no special preparations. You go about your regular business, but when you run into someone you say, “Hey, did you hear? We might get a thunderstorm later.”

I was in a group of four waiters setting up tables for a luncheon to be hosted by George magazine. Our attention was heightened for the arrival of John-John, but only a little higher than usual. The restaurant was on the ground floor of the building, which housed the New York offices of the William Morris agency. Celebrities of every stripe would often meet with their agents over lunch while my friends hovered about and reported back to each other in the side stations.

“Elvis Costello is on table 23,” I’d say.

“Saw him,” my friend Brett barked back, keying dinner orders into the computer. “I’ve waited on him before. I have his spoon.”

“What?” I asked.

“At home, I have the espresso spoon he used,” he explained. “I have a lot of things like that. I have Liam Neeson’s napkin.”

Brett adored celebrity—to touch the people who touched the world. It didn’t matter in what part of the room a guest was sitting, if that guest had been on the cover of a magazine, Brett became involved with the table. He would sail clear across the room during a busy dinner, “Do you need help clearing 34?” By the time I met him, he could supply an entire restaurant, at least in coffee service, with the items he squirreled away from famous tables.

“You see this lighter?” he pulled out a Zippo decorated with a hologram of a woman on the back of a motorcycle. “One night I spent an entire event lighting Princess Caroline’s cigarettes with this Harley bitch lighter.”

That day at lunch, just like every thunderstorm and tornado we prepare for, John-John didn’t show. His partner in the magazine got up to say a few words after the tiramisu. No doubt he was used to apologizing to luncheon groups who felt cheated that he had been sent as George’s ambassador instead of Mr. Kennedy.

The party broke up soon after. The woman who had organized the party for George settled the bill and then turned to us waiters, “I put aside a few favor bags for all of you,” she said. “Thank you for your help.”

I always appreciated the grace of a guest offering party favors to the staff, however ridiculous the gesture might be—didn’t they know that Brett had spirited away a half dozen bags while they had been placing the seating cards?

Among the few samples from George’s various advertisers, the bag contained the current issue of George and a gray T-shirt with a small picture of President Washington on the back and “George” in large print on the front. The T-shirt was wonderful. I wore it everywhere. It instantly became one of my favorites; the magazine did not.

I think the magazine was caught in the same snare as most magazines. It might have wanted to make a statement, but editorially, it had to stay on the fence to attract advertisers and a large enough readership to support national distribution.

People would see me in the T-shirt and feel the need to read it out loud—”George!” they would say, as if it were my name.

When this happened, I would say something cute like, “I’ll tell you, I like the T-shirt a lot more than I like the magazine.” It happened so often that this became my standard reply like “Good morning,” or “Have a nice day.”

One morning, wearing my George T-shirt, I rode to work on the #2 train, my eyes buried in a deck of flash cards I had made in my never-ending struggle to learn a foreign language. I heard the door open from the adjoining car; I heard the rush of the tracks in the subway tunnel, and I heard the door slide shut again, bouncing on its safety spring. The car grew quiet until the newly arrived passenger cleared his throat and spoke up. “That’s a hell of a T-shirt,” he said.

I looked up to deliver my favorite comment, but when I caught the passenger’s eyes, all I could say was, “Thank you, Mr. Kennedy.”

I had seen him in magazines, and a few times on TV, but that I recognized him instantly surprised me. Sometimes you don’t recognize famous people right away. They look different when they are with the rest of us, they are shorter and skinnier, their hair isn’t done right or they’re not wearing make-up. John Kennedy Jr. was as striking in real life as he was in photographs. He was a beautiful man. You must understand, I consider myself a good-looking man and I say this without the least bit of self-deprecation— standing next to John Kennedy Jr. I was a cartoon character.

Where was I? The Riviera? A compound on Palm Beach or Hyannis Port? No, I was on the #2 train, taking in the human odors of urine and sweat, surrounded by advertisements for LASER treatments to remove foot warts and hemorrhoids. And he was right there with me.

Poor John Kennedy. He must have thought he was born into a world of idiots for the way we looked at him. The man across from me, standing right next to John-John became absolutely giggly. I’m sure the man was of normal intelligence, but boy did he start to ask stupid questions. “So, do you take the subway a lot?” he asked through nervous laughter.

I wanted nothing more than to interrupt the little exchange to say, “Don’t bother with him Mr. Kennedy, he is obviously a moron,” but I had been struck dumb and could not wait for the train to stop and let me off.

One day in the Fall the banquet room was open for a la carte lunch as an afterthought—no coat check was scheduled, and one of the food runners was going to cover the bar. I was drafted out of the main dining room with another waiter named Carlos. From what stories I could patch together, Carlos had fled to New York from Venezuela, a gay man estranged from his

Mormon family—evidently, homosexuality doesn’t play in Mormon communities, whether Salt Lake City or Caracas. Carlos was a character from another age. He could have easily been a foppish courtier, streaming lace handkerchiefs and bowing to a renaissance patron.

“Paul, did you hear?” Carlos asked. “John Jr. is coming for lunch today and I will wait on him.”

Yuri, the manager had gotten Carlos pretty worked up. She was pretty worked up herself. I took it as another John-John drill and went about my business, but I was nervous for the glassware and every guest on which Carlos would wait.

While Yuri and Carlos were busy losing their minds in a coffee service area behind swinging doors, an earlier luncheon party, which included the actor Nathan Lane, arrived. Nathan Lane had just exploded on the national scene with his performance in the film The Bird Cage following his vocal work as the meerkat in The Lion King. He had just returned to Broadway in a revival of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. I greeted the group at the door and walked them to a table.

In every dining room the value of certain tables is perceived as greater than that of their surrounding tables. Tables built into nooks offer privacy; tables placed in the focal point of the dining room allow diners to see and be seen. There were no such tables in this dining room. This was the room in which we catered private parties. It was a wide-open room with large square tables that sat four guests comfortably. Reaching under the tabletops and pulling back with a gentle pop, leaves emerged, offering room for six or eight guests at round tables. Each table floated like an island unto itself, comfortably remote from the exits, the kitchen, the rest rooms and any noisy or gusting ventilation. Channels and canals of hard wood floor surrounded the tables on every side to accommodate the comings and goings of waiters, food runners and busboys. There was no “best” table in the room. Or at least, that was what I thought.

Carlos and Yuri came back through the swinging coffee station door. “Paul, what did you do?” Yuri hissed. “You know John Jr. is coming. Why did you give Nathan Lane the best table in the house?”

Without hesitation, without considering her actions for a moment, Yuri walked directly to Mr. Lane’s table and did the unthinkable. In an otherwise empty dining room, she asked Mr. Lane’s party to get up from their seats and move.

In the world of dining room management, this is the most heinous act imaginable. I have worked in country clubs, Irish bars and three star Manhattan restaurants. In all those years I have found only two conditions that allow you to ask a table full of guests to get up and move. One is if the restaurant is on fire. The other is if asking the guest to move would help accommodate another guest who is obviously at some horrible disadvantage. For instance, you could say, “Sir, would you mind if we moved you to a different table. I’m sorry to ask this, but a gentleman has been waiting in the bar for an hour, and this is the only table with room enough to accommodate an iron lung.” You cannot suggest that you would rather see someone else enjoy the table they are sitting at, and you would never say what Yuri said, “I’m sorry gentlemen, but may I ask you to move? John Jr. is coming to lunch and I wanted to offer him this table.”

Nathan Lane stood up, a befuddled look on his face—rehearsed befuddlement, his most famous shtick—raising one eyebrow; he coughed out the first breath of a laugh. I have watched him practice the expression while bluffing responses on Celebrity Jeopardy, “(pteh)… Who is Louis the Fourteenth, Alex? (pteh).”

And now I watched him practice the expression in our dining room. “(pteh)…Well, if John Jr.’s coming… (pteh),” he said, mugging for a camera that was nowhere to be found.

What was it? What struck people dumb in subway cars? What influenced professional restaurant managers to thwart legitimate stars of stage and screen? The very thought of JFK Jr. confused us like a junior high school crush—the feeling you got in math class sitting next to Lisa Esposito, the feeling you thought was going to kill you. You couldn’t look right at her, but you couldn’t look away. Why did we all love John F. Kennedy Jr. so much?

I tried to find some perspective. I tried to think of everything I knew of the man. I never was one for tabloid hype. I could have cared less about his wealth or his good looks. I didn’t pin any hope upon him. I never thought he was going to be a political leader. He was an attorney and then a publisher. Yes, he carried himself with gentle dignity and grace, something you cannot say of everyone in the public eye, but could it warrant this type of adoration? Then I thought of the little boy wearing the wool overcoat of a November so long ago.

The coat check girl they had called at the last minute came crashing through the swinging door. She marched right into the closet and began organizing her tickets and hangers. I walked over to the coatroom. Few things are more disagreeable to a restaurant manager than the staff’s obvious fraternization in the presence of guests, but few things are more alluring to a waiter than a coat check girl. It’s something about the presentation—a girl in a box, as if she is a gift being offered, or a carnival attraction. It is like a game show segment with Monty Hall—who’s behind door number one? Is it the artist or the actress in need of a flexible day job, or a newly arrived immigrant from one of the Eastern European countries with a limited command of the English language? Today it was Charlotte, the photographer. She was pretty in a quiet kind of dangerous way. While guests sat down to eat, she would empty their coat pockets, take a photograph of the contents and return them to the pockets.

“Do you know why they roused you from sleep to come in here and hang coats?” I asked.

“No, why?”

“Because the boy is coming,” I said.

“What boy?”

“The little saluting boy,” I said.

Charlotte squinted and shook her head. She had just woken up and run through the cold to get to work. I wasn’t making any sense to her.

I checked on my tables and went back to the side station to punch a coffee order into the computer or carry out some other waiterly task. Carlos began to tremble.

“Oh Paul, he is here,” he panicked. “What am I going to do?”

I looked around the wall of the side station to see Yuri and Charlotte taking the coats of Mr. Kennedy and the other three men in his party.

“OK Carlos,” I said. “Take it easy. Remember, he is just a man like you and me. He puts his pants on one leg at a time.”

“Yes,” Carlos said. “Thank you.”

“But you know,” I said. “Maybe now isn’t the time to think about him standing alone in his briefs.”

“Paul, don’t do this to me,” Carlos flustered out of the side station.

Yuri began to walk across the room, guiding the party to the table left vacant by Nathan Lane.

“Excuse me,” Mr. Kennedy brought the party to a halt. “Would it be alright if we sat there?” Mr. Kennedy chose a table off to the side, out of the direct line of site of the dining room’s entrance. As he sat down, he nudged the table a little to the left. Now the only part of him the room could see was his back.

Something like a chill ran through me—a nervous epiphany. I don’t know if it is from the spy novels or the mob movies that I have soaked in throughout my life, but there is one thing I know—no one of any weight sits with his back to the room. It is the cornerstone of any defensive strategy—stand where you can see them coming. I never sit with my back to the room, and I am a waiter, a pedestrian. I’m not a target. I’m not a wealthy man; I’m not the saluting boy. My chill came from the realization that John Jr. had resigned himself to the thought of a violent fate. He would subtly turn his back to guard his privacy from the gawkers and paparazzi, but leave himself wide open to the dangers of the calculating and the crazed. John Jr. must have come to terms with the idea that if they want you, they will get you. After all, his father was President of the United States, the most protected man in the world, and they got him.

I walked back over to the coat check where Charlotte was giggling. “You’re right,” she said. “It’s that saluting boy, all growed up. Go over there and ask him. See if he’ll salute for us.”

My joke had come back to kick me in the pants, and I hated it. There was something about John Kennedy Jr. that demanded respect, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. John Kennedy Jr. was not a manufactured celebrity.

He was not a child star primped, packaged and sold to us as America’s sweetheart. Yes, he was the boy who saluted the flag, but it wasn’t posed or rehearsed. It wasn’t a planned publicity photo. His father was no longer running for reelection. Remember, the flag draped over his father.

I wished Nathan Lane were still in the room. I’m sure in seeing Mr. Kennedy he would have blushed in the shadow of his own small protest. This was John-John, and a gesture he made as a toddler meant more than teaching the entire world the lyrics to Hakuna Matada.

Always be careful when you move a table in a restaurant. In setting up a dining room, a waiter will move a table here and there, back and forth, to try to find a sweet spot where all four feet of the table’s base will touch the floor. If the table is moved a couple of inches in any direction it will become unforgivably wobbly and unpleasant. From where I stood I could see Mr. Kennedy’s table wobble, and I could not wait to tell Carlos.

A waiter corrects a table wobble in one of two ways: 1) Move the table back to the sweet spot on the floor— out of the question. 2) Crawl under the table to either adjust a screw or jam something under the unsupported portion of the base.

I walked around to the side station, pulled a couple of table shims out of the drawer and handed them to Carlos.

“You need to balance Mr. Kennedy’s table,” I said.

“No Paul,” Carlos said. “You must be joking.”

“Carlos,” I said. “This is also not a good time to think of him in his underwear.”

“Oh no,” Carlos’s head was about to explode. “Why does this have to happen to me?”

— — —

I’m always at home for the holidays, which to me means here, New York, Brooklyn, Long Island. When I was a waiter, it meant that I would work the holiday shifts. I never minded working New Years Eve, and I came from a Christmas morning kind of family, so working Christmas Eve was all right also. But around every holiday, there are the traveling days, the days when you can’t catch a cab on the streets of Manhattan, and the traffic out of town is at its worst. No one eats in restaurants on these days. Lunch is a bag of chips on the car seat next to you. Restaurant managers never get used to the traveling days. They schedule whatever waiters they have left in town, just in case it is busy. It is the kind of day you forget about while it is happening. I might have forgotten the day entirely, except for one event. A couple walked into the restaurant toward the end of lunch.

“Hello, we didn’t make a reservation, but we were wondering if we could sit for lunch,” the man said.

“Certainly,” I said. “Right this way.”

It was the last time I saw John Kennedy Jr.

Mr. Kennedy sat at a table off to the side, his back to the all but empty room. His guest was not a business associate, but from what I could make out from the snippets of conversation I overheard, a college friend who had called him because she was in town for the holiday. The two of them decided to meet for lunch. She was an attractive woman with shoulder length mousey-blonde hair. Looking at her, I thought she had to be an old friend of his, if only because she did not gaze upon him with an idiot look in her eye the way the rest of us did. He felt relaxed with her too, and I was glad he did. His comfort that afternoon allowed me to learn something about him that I had never known—John Kennedy Jr. was able to do a decent Arnold Schwarzenegger imitation.

Like most people, my friends and I trade lines from movies, mimicking the nuances of the actors who said them. This wasn’t like that. This wasn’t one of the famous Arnold lines that everybody imitates. This wasn’t an “I’ll be back,” or “Sarah Connor” from The Terminator or an “It’s not a tumor,” from Kindergarten Cop. This was a more intimate Arnold imitation. After all, Arnold was married to Mr. Kennedy’s first cousin.

Mr. Kennedy’s friend had asked him what it was like to bump into Arnold at family gatherings. Mr. Kennedy’s reaction was perfectly natural. He responded in Arnold’s voice as if he had just sat down next to her at the supposed gathering. From what I could tell, Arnold likes to ask the Kennedys point blank questions about politics, and then stares them in the face until they answer to his satisfaction. I loved it. I walked away from the table beaming—an affinity existed between Mr. Kennedy and me. He answered exactly how I would have if someone asked me what it was like to be at a party with my cousin’s husband Kevin.

When I returned to the table, I overheard a conversation that any tabloid reporter would have given a kidney for. “So John,” his friend asked. “How are you adjusting to married life?”

John Kennedy shrugged a little and told her just what he thought of married life. Listening to it, I found it was no different than the descriptions I have heard from any of my friends in their first year of marriage. It seems that no matter who you are or with whom you walk down the aisle, marriage is a full-time gig. When it is covered in detail on page six, it doesn’t make it any easier.

The two finished their lunch and asked for the check. As I approached the table, check presenter in hand, Mr. Kennedy leaned to one side to pull the wallet from his pocket. It was a thick leather Harley Davidson wallet—the kind kids carried when I was in high school—a steel chain fastened it to his belt. He popped the snaps and pulled out his American Express card, the green one, the one the rest of us use. I walked back to the credit card terminal and looked at the card. “John F. Kennedy Jr.,” it said, as if I hadn’t figured it out by now. I walked back to the table. I wanted to say something, but I didn’t know what. Would he want to hear my imitation of my cousin’s husband? Probably not.

He signed the credit card voucher and thanked me for my service.

“Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Kennedy,” I said and I shook his hand.

It was all I could think of to say. Years later, while the world watched the Atlantic on CNN and New Yorkers placed flowers in a Tribeca doorway; it was all I could think of still.

I don’t know what I should have said that afternoon, but the words linger. It is a memory I enjoy. I don’t try to force any meaning upon it. I let its significance unravel. To me the moment spoke of America in a pumpkin, if not quite apple pie kind of way.

From time to time it creeps up on me, as memories do. I may be standing on a street corner, waiting for the light to change when the words come to me again, and I say them out loud—Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Kennedy, wherever you are.

November 2001


Filed under Personal Essays

2 responses to “Happy Thanksgiving Mr. Kennedy, Wherever You Are

  1. Jonathan Seckler

    I am not sure i like this essay compared to your others. This reads like an homage to fame. and I think… that in comparison to your life, .. fuck fame! You are much more interesting.

  2. Wow.

    I connected here from your FB page. I remembered you from high school, but frankly I was surprised to get your friend invite(I remember you as one of the “cool kids” group, of which I was certainly not a member). So I checked out your page to see what you’re up to, and landed here.

    This is the first piece of yours that I’ve read, and I enjoyed it a great deal. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that it’s well-written (although I know it’s always nice to hear). I respectfully disagree with Mr. Seckler – I didn’t read this as a tribute to fame, but rather as a melancholy meditation about the possible effects of fame, and how unaffected you thought Mr. Kennedy was.

    I also think the unspoken question was “Why do we all feel such a connection with this gentleman?” Of course, I don’t have a definitive answer, but I think that mourning draws people together. Even though you and I were too young to remember that horrible day in November, those images you mention and the thought of what JFK might have achieved, may cause us a sense of loss. To the tiniest degree, perhaps that’s what we share with his son.

    I’m looking forward to reading your other essays.

    Be well –
    Stacey Drucker

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