This has not been a prolific April. It’s just plain cold. It’s the 18th today and it is not supposed to be this cold. Wet? Maybe. It rains a lot in the spring in these parts. But we shouldn’t have needed another oil delivery this morning. We got one anyway, and probably for the first time in MANY years, we are actually behind in our payments for oil.
We pay all year round to avoid catastrophic single payments, but this year has not been a normal year.
Of all the genies in all the world, why is my brain totally stuck on “I Dream of Jeannie?” I could be obsessing on “the Djinn of the Desert” or the many Djinn of the worlds of poetry and mythology. Instead, I’m stuck on a 1960 TV series which I rarely watched. The problem was, I found it insulting.
I was a pre-menstrual girl child. No breasts. I just intensely hated the concept, it made me want to spit.
My father once commented that he didn’t really like children because he found them dull. I pointed out that he never found me dull (when he wasn’t being crazy, he was interesting) and he said “Yes, but you weren’t a child. You were a person.” That is probably the only compliment he ever gave me and I think I was 50 at the time.
I felt belittled by it the show. Embarrassed. Humiliated. The idea of wanting a beautiful personal female slave — never mind that the show often didn’t go in that direction regardless. As a note, I think Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman were offended by it too. Larry’s mom was a strong woman in her own right, so they intentionally took it off the rails.
I was a child, but I already knew it was a bad idea whose time would never come. Besides — I wasn’t blond.
My mother didn’t act like that. She was so very far from that place you could not even mention the concept without a gigantic blast of angry energy. I did not have a penis of my own and thus the concept of having a “beautiful slave girl” wasn’t rattling around my genitalia as it does for so many male persons of the penile persuasion.
I’m probably too much #metoo to be the right genie gal writer. I was #metoo before #metoo was #metoo. I’m betting so were millions and millions of women throughout the world.
We didn’t have a hashtag because “hash” was ground up potatoes and corned beef so you didn’t tag it on anything except your scrambled eggs, but we were pissed off with men long, long decades (possibly centuries) before the “official” movement drifted into view. And we fought back within the limits of physical abilities and the realism of needing to have a professional job in a world dominated by men, many of whom didn’t like women.
So you may have dreamed of Jeannie, but I didn’t.
Still, that little nose wiggle Elizabeth Montgomery did — I could have lived with that. Anything to not have to ever clean — or repair — the house.
I first covered “Chappy” for ABC News. I was just a back up newsie for the network reporter. Steve Bell, I think. Tommy would remember him. Bell introduced me to all the people we interviewed. I tried to keep the names with the faces. Teddy, Rose, Ethel, Eunice, Sarge , as well as many of the young women Ellin Curley mentioned in her post.
I kept a low profile, taking notes for Bell so he could move around more easily. I didn’t say much of anything to anyone. Ted usually greeted me with “Hey, there!” That was his normal greeting for most people.
He was bad with names. Years later, I would prank him about that.
There was an obvious “Kennedy line” between them and us. Steve Bell was a gracious reporter, knowing when to not be pushy. Steve also covered Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, so we had a bond. He trusted me — unlike some of his other ABC colleagues. I (ironically) heard some of the Kennedys talking after Steve would wrap an interview.
I was pretty much invisible to them. They were nervous about some of the questions. Sarge Shriver was always hovering, making sure our drinks were refilled.
ABC’s take on “Chappy” left me with many unanswered questions.
The Kopechne family was guarded, suspicious of the media and its Kennedy bias. Rumors flew about older reporters on the take from Daddy Joe Kennedy. They were just rumors for me. I never had any factual knowledge of hinky stuff. I met old Joe once at a cocktail party on the Hyannisport compound. He was distant but not rude. Someone had apparently whispered to him about me. I never found out what.
I next met the Kennedys during my brief tenure as co-anchor at Ch-18 News in Hartford. Ch 18 was a small RKO-General station. I was the token Black guy and the first one to anchor in that market. Whenever something “sensitive” came up, I would be dispatched to cover it.
There was a “Chappy” anniversary. I was sent to the Hyannisport compound. This time, I wasn’t invisible. Many congratulated me on my promotion to co-anchor and said they liked my work. I didn’t buy any of it so I just smiled. They seemed to favor me out of the horde of reporters from around the world. Big names like Rather, Brokaw, Frank Reynolds, Donaldson, and so on.
The stars were upset with the favoritism they thought I was getting from the Kennedys. I continued to smile. In truth, the family was just re-wrapping the same stories I was told when I was with ABC. They made me the “local favored TV newsie.” Newspapers ran with the same crap. Ch-18 loved it and milked it for months until Channel 7 in Boston came beckoning for me.
Over the years, I did numerous Kennedy stories. They always treated me with respect because I didn’t overtly push the line. I used sources for that stuff and feigned ignorance when confronted about my involvement.
Ted Kennedy became one of those people I would describe as a “good acquaintance,” but not a friend. We were on first name basis — when he could remember my name. He sometimes frequented the same bar used by Tip O’Neill, myself, other pols and media.
Tip always assured Ted that I was a good guy, one you could trust. I always bought the next round for Tip, and the next. Tip was the real deal. I am flattered he thought well of me.
“Chappy” never came up in those social situations. Ted would sometimes bitch about media bias but always apologize to me. I always smiled.
So, that’s my “Chappy” back story. It’ll be interesting to see what they’ve done with the film. I have a friend who did background work for it. I’ll have to hit him up for gossip.
“The Second Coming” is a poem written by Irish poet W. B. Yeats in 1919, first printed in The Dial in November 1920, and afterwards included in his 1921 collection of verses Michael Robartes and the Dancer.
If you watch enough cop shows on television, you will be convinced there is no such thing as a coincidence. This is probably because in cop shows, they are looking for clues. Also, there’s the matter of the script in which everyone always says “there’s no such thing as a coincidence.”
Except there is. It may be a freakish coincidence. It may be downright weird and closer to home than you want, but it’s not a clue. Why isn’t it a clue? Because you aren’t trying to track down the bad guy. You aren’t looking for a serial killer (at least I hope not and if you are, I hope you are well armed and not trying to do it on Facebook). You are just tralala-ing your life away, so what kind of a clue would make a meaningful difference?
When I was living in Israel, someone posted that he was giving away his entire record collection. He had “gone religious” and decided he didn’t need such frivolity. I called him up and he came over with crates of vinyl records. This was before CDs took over and a few years later, records were stuff you didn’t need anymore.
I’m highly amused that they are back in fashion. Mom was right: hang on to anything long enough and it will be back in style. She meant clothing, but apparently it’s true for many things. I’m still awaiting eight-track tapes.
Sorry for the digression.
I look at the guy and he looked at me. We stared at each other for a really long time and finally, I said “Where did you go to high school?”
“Jamaica High School,” he said.
Turns out we were in the same show in our junior year. I don’t remember anything about him except that there was something in his eyes that was familiar. Freaky? Weird? Yup. A clue? A clue to exactly what? It wasn’t like we dated or anything. At best, we barely knew one another.
About 10 years later, Garry and I were in Dublin. Looking for the Stag’s Head Pub, which is one of the older pubs in Dublin. The only way you can find it is to see the old stag’s head mosaic in the sidewalk because it’s down an unmarked alley.
So Garry and I — eternally lost, but this time, lost in Dublin — were staring at the sidewalk. A total stranger walked up and Garry accosted him.
“Excuse me,” said Garry, “But do you happen to know where we could find the Stag’s Head?”
“You’re Garry Armstrong,” said the nice man who it turns out was a professor at Harvard taking a year off to teach in Dublin. Cabal? No, but he knew how to find the pub.
A few years later, Garry and I are visiting my cousins in Baltimore and we’ve gone out for dinner. Crabs legs. They do a great job with crabs in Maryland. The waiter came over, dumps a heap of crab legs on the table and says “Hey, you’re Garry Armstrong.”
We went to Disney World and people kept asking for his autograph. There was Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck … and Garry. Ah, the memories. Okay Garry was a little bit famous. Still … what are the odds?
Garry bumped into a viewer while in a castle in the highlands of Scotland. I encountered relatives while choosing veggies at the shuk in Jerusalem. A guy I knew well in Jerusalem (he was my hairdresser) showed up at my doctor’s office in Newton, Massachusetts.
Stuff happens all the time. You meet someone who lives in the house you grew up in, or was the best friend of your best friend in fifth grade. It goes around and comes around. If you are firm believer in fate, is there some spiritual element in this?
For me, the truly oddest thing is when I meet someone who knows me. Says we were on the swimming team together (where I was a bench sitter — I never actually swam). Were in the same classes. Hung out. And I don’t recognize her or him at all. Nothing. Blank. Is it me or them? Which one of us is clueless?
If it is “something,” I’m pretty sure it’s not a cabal, clue, or collusion. It’s coincidence with memories. Synchronicity, if you like. The rhyming of our personal histories.
We know thousands of people, yet we bump into the same ones. Repeatedly.
So, are we destined to meet and then meet again people we knew in our world or maybe in another world? Even when they weren’t important and we can barely remember how we knew them or a single event or conversation which binds us together?
I’m sure someone more spiritual than I can make something more of this. Let me know when you know.
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