Yesterday I seem to have invited everybody in my entire Contact list to be my ‘Friend on Facebook’ talk about embarrassing, since some of my contacts are famous people. Like Gloria Steinem. And Garrison Keillor I think maybe. And the POPE! and the Center for Wart Removal in Atlanta, and OK yes I’m making it up about the Pope and the Wart Lab but not the others. I HAVE these addresses but I never use them – or I use them only sparingly.
For example when I was younger, see photo, that’s me in the chair sobbing, no of course not, that’s me the mother, sorrowing over the first haircut… When I was younger my mom died at a party right in front of us all just as we were toasting her birthday, and this highly shocking event caused me in the 2 or 3 years following her death to do all kinds of odd things: Like wearing hats, I think to channel her old jauntiness. Like CRYING while giving speeches that were suppose to be light and funny, making the whole audience cry too, talk about your Typhoid Mary. And like writing letters to famous people.
I wrote to Ronald Reagan and sent him the column I did about him when I saw him in Concord NH. I wrote to the Prince of Wales after seeing him at the 350 birthday of Harvard. I remember sitting in the Yard looking up at all those ivy leaves declining like Latin nouns down the sides of the old buildings and thinking ‘Damn you Ten Thousand Men of Harvard, why did you keep my kind out for like 99 % of your history?’
I wrote to Garrison Keillor when I applied to be the first Journalist in Space. I had mentioned him in my application essay and have always kinda figured that’s why I got to the final 40 in that contest.
I even wrote to the great John Updike when I read a short story of his in the New Yorker that made it apparent his mum had died too. I sent him a condolence note and a copy of the column I wrote about Cal’s dramatic death – that was my mom’s name, ‘Cal’, as jaunty a name as she was a person, a cigarette held tight in her teeth as she took the corners on two-wheels to get us to that convent school she enrolled us in by mistake where she was in a fight with the nuns from DAY ONE.
And they all wrote back, these famous characters: Ronnie R. wrote right back. The future King of England did too or at least His Honor Lord High-Fanny of the Royal Equerry wrote on his behalf. And Garrison Keillor and John Updike sent actual postcards, John Updike’s saying a thing so nice about my writing it pulled me up out of obscurity like the wave of the Bibbity Bobbity Boo wand of Cinderella’s fairy godmother. In fact just last month he had another story in the New Yorker, this one so beautiful I was forced to write him again and what do you think? Another postcard came, as gracious as the first.
Now 15 years had passed between my first letter to him and my second, that’s how careful I am. And I wouldn’t DREAM of writing to the Pope even if I had his email address, and the same goes for Lord High-Fanny who gave me some serious attitude in his letter just because my column said Prince Charlie wore the academic hood of his alma mater whereas in fact he wears the robes of the University of Wales just because he like OWNS Wales or some insignificant thing like that.
Gloria Steinem though? Gloria’s address I was saving for a special occasion, like offering myself to come be the jester at the next Inter-Galactic Women’s Conference. And now – agony!- my girl has called her girl if you can call an Address Book a girl and I seem to have asked her to be my friend on Facebook! The Queen gets invited to the worker bee’s after school party, Aaargh I could die! But, on the other hand in the last 24 hours I’ve heard from people I haven’t seen in decade and have admired their pictures and have written on their walls so why be embarrassed? Because really we’re ALL members of the Class of ’08, right? So really, why NOT write in each other’s yearbooks?