Following the revelation not too long ago that JFK had yet one other inappropriate relationship very long ago, Nora Ephron pubished an op-ed piece in the New York Times about her time as a white house intern. I kept a copy under my desk pad and I whipped it out when I felt blue. It was funny, touching, relatable and irreverent.
With a few key phrases (i.e.: unfortunate permanent wave and multi colored dynel dresses) Nora describes her younger self objectively. From photos, I can tell Nora was very pretty but not everyone can relate to "pretty". In the White house, Nora was an intern with no where to sit, and consequently, nowhere to use her considerable typing skills (100 words a minute). Pre word processing, employers valued fast, accurate typing. Good typing skills could keep a person employed. Nora, the "everywoman" brags about her typing skills over her Wellesley status.
What exactly went on in this glamorous, Kennedy era White House? Not much that 19 year old Nora could see. Underestimated and overlooked, Nora could observe, analyze and note her surroundings. I have worked with College students for over 30 years. Though nonthreatening and inconspicuous, they harbor keen analytical power deployable at the most inconvenient time.
Though Nora's first meeting with JFK took 15 seconds at the most, she remembered him as "the handsomest man" she had ever seen. The President and Nora run into each other again when he stops on his way to his helicopter and asks over the noise of the whirling blades if she "is coming along okay". That was the extent of their relationship. Nora admits to an unusual status - the only woman at whom JFK had not made a pass. With a little self-deprecation, Nora invites us to reflect on that long list of Kennedy lovers. "Was one Jewish?--I don't think so". Finally, she suggests, it was really JFK's intuition about Nora's inability to keep a secret that prevented a liaison.
Though she never knew it, with this article, Nora and I became friends.