Richard Nixon in a Wig

My cousin thought that was a picture of my wet bottom on the plane – see here – but that could never be me, and not only because it’s practically impossible to take a picture of your own backside.

It couldn’t be my bottom because I would never wear shorts on a plane.

Why not? Because I’m older than faxing, that’s why.

I may even be older than office photocopying. Wait let me check…. YUP. WAY older than office photocopying!

And when you’re old in this way you wouldn’t dream of wearing shorts when you fly. Instead you sort of dress up, a little, even today.

In the old days when a lady flew, she wore not just a skirt and heels but often a hat – a hat! And little white gloves, natch.

I just came across a few photos of me in my senior year of high school on a trip my family and I took to Our Nation’s Capital, which is what we called it back then.

I’m wearing the get-up I flew down in – well minus the hat because now we were touring around, in our high heels and our skirts and it was like 90 degrees although it was only April.

My mom had on this shawl-collared coat in fake cashmere. My sister Nan looked like Grace Kelly. And I looked like Richard Nixon if he dressed up as a woman.

Also a little like Imogene Coca. Remember her?

The point is we made this big effort and we made it because that was the expectation placed upon women: that we’d smile, and be charming and stoke male egos in all places and at all times. I remember weakling down a street when I was just 17, homesick, far from my family, getting plumper by the minute on the Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding Dinners the college kept serving us, accompanied by buttery homemade rolls and followed by puddings and thick chocolate cakes. I was dawdling along the street minding my business when a guy around 35 passed and said to me in this really nasty voice, “SMILE for God’s sake!”

It was the “click” moment for me all right, when the personal became the political, just like our Gloria described 40 years ago.

God bless Gloria! God Bless the Women’s Movement I say! And, sisters, if someone asks if you’re a feminist you just tell them, “You can bet the farm on it BABE! ”

8 thoughts on “Richard Nixon in a Wig

  1. OMG! I had the same experience! I was working in a gas station, all alone on a Sunday afternoon. Most people would come in and practically throw the money on the counter, sometimes with a rude look as though I was somehow the benefactor of all the high gas prices. Anyway I was alone (always, they almost never had two people on staff) anyway I stood at the window, looking absent mindedly at the street and I turned as a man hustled in, he might have been the same jerk you encountered, cause he looked real perturbed, the first and only thing out of his mouth was “Geeze SMILE why don’t you?!” I was stunned! But I was so offended by his demeanor and expectation that I should have a smile plastered on my face even when just staring out a window, that I just told him, shut up mister! Well, that showed him! With a snarl on his face he paid (threw the money on the counter) turned and left. Just like they all did, so rude. I figure gas station clerks have no idea how good they have it now that these anti-social jerks can just pay at the pump! As I’d been a sheltered and shy young woman of 18, it was an eye-opener for me too.

      1. Yes, I am glad not to have to wait on people who have weird expectations around how you should grin like a lunatic through a plate glass window, particularly when you believe that no one is observing you.
        I work in an office now and I think I have a little insight into how some men view these little exchanges.
        I used to take breaks with a male co-worker who used to complain mightily about one of his fellow animators ( we both worked at a children’s educational software company). My friend told me what a jerk ‘Bill’ could be and preceded to describe an incident that occurred when the two of them went to lunch after which they proceeded to the cashier to pay for each of their lunches. After they walked out the door, Bill turned to Laughlan ( my friend’s name) and said “Did you see that? She liked ME, she didn’t even look at you but she SMILED at me!”
        I think life and the way people interpret other people’s actions is more like a Seinfeld episode than we could ever realize.

      2. BTW Terry, I am here reading your blog on account of your ”Richard Nixon” reference. I find Nixon endlessly intriguing and as an artist I am able to listen to a lot of audio programs without its contents interrupting my workflow. As such I explore various broadcasts and podcasts online to keep my interest. At one point I started listening to the Nixon tapes, there are thousands of hours of daily conversations between President Nixon and his cronies and visitors to the White House. At one point, Richard Nixon was talking about a certain woman being a really wonderful person, and he made the observation, “Wouldn’t the world be a far less interesting and boring place if everyone were perfect beauties and the same?” By this I take it that the woman he spoke of was not a typical beauty, but that in Nixon’s eyes, due to her kindness and considerate behavior she was more beautiful than most.
        Now you won’t find that Nixon tape played on the National news, but it shows that Richard Nixon was more than just a political thug, at least where non-political issues were involved.  Who would have guessed it?

      3. Wow I didn’t know you could find podcasts of the Nixon tapes. I listen to podcasts CONSTANTLY!
        This is nice, your willingness to place Nixon in a kinder light… Have you seen Oliver Stone’s movie about him? You really get his childhood , with the gentle Quaker mother correcting him with her thous and thees.

      4. Oh yeah I saw the Oliver Stone film, I remember that Nixon’s daughters were very unhappy with it. And I couldn’t help but think that it was way out of line in many areas. But according to Nixon himself his Mother did not use the old manner of speech with he and his brothers so much, but when his Mother was on the phone with her sisters Nixon said he would hear her referring to them as thee and thine.

        The Nixon tapes aren’t exactly podcasts , but you can go to the national archives or the Nixon library and pick a day and just listen to all that went on in the office during the day!
        On one of the tapes Nixon was meeting with auto makers and talking about driving fast on the highways, like 65 or 75mph and Nixon seemed a little uncertain of his driving skills and said it would take him awhile to get used to driving that fast! I guess you have to bear in mind that Nixon probably hadn’t driven himself around for a very long time. Funny that someone in such an elevated position of power would be somewhat daunted by things we do nearly everyday.
        Can you recommend an interesting podcast or two?

      5. I listened to one. It’s pretty haunting isn’t it? I see I have more to learn about the man .

        I went to college with Julie who the internet shows me, is still beautiful . Those girls and poor Pat: what a crucible they were put through.

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