Carly Simon wrote a small piece for The New Yorker this week, recalling a time she went to the movies with her good friend Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It’s one of those rare glimpses into the day-to-day life of an icon that people of a certain age will absolutely gasp over.
On this particular occasion, the Oliver Stone movie JFK had just been released and Carly went to extreme pains to find a theater that it wasn’t playing at and, more importantly, wouldn’t be playing a trailer for it before the movie THEY were seeing, so as not to upset Jackie.
Jackie and I usually met up at the movies in the same way. When she arrived before me, I would find her inside the movie theatre by going to the ladies’ room, where she would be waiting in one of the stalls. That afternoon, before the 4 p.m. showing of “Bugsy,” was no different. Her Gucci loafers were poking out from beneath a stall. I hummed a bar of a familiar song, in this case “How High the Moon,” which was the signal for all clear.
Jackie emerged. “I almost thought the woman who came in a minute ago was you, and I . . . it wouldn’t have been the worst thing, but . . . well, shall we go in? Oh, Carly, I see you got popcorn . . . what fun!”
Well. My dears. Isn’t that the MOST fabulous thing you’ve ever read? The hiding in the bathroom stall so no one would recognize her… the Gucci loafers poking out from beneath the door… The humming of a code song to lure her out… then Jackie thinking popcorn was FUN, and saying so in that breathy, little girl voice of hers?
Imagine being so rich and famous – and removed from day-to-day living – that popcorn is considered FUN? I’m swooning.
Then, things took a turn for the worse when Carly committed a HUGE GAFFE…
The theatre was mostly empty, with maybe twenty other people distributed like arbitrary commas in the semi-darkness. Yet I still felt terribly ill at ease. There hung between us a palpable silence, and for some reason I couldn’t allow it. Maybe it was only three seconds, or not even two, but the silence whipped at me like some sudden freak storm. I turned to her, this friend, this woman whose burden it was to be poised, and whose responsibility it was to set an example for the rest of us.
“So,” I said. “Have you seen ‘JFK’? I mean, the movie. I mean, the Oliver Stone movie. I mean the one that’s just out now?”
“Oh, no, Carly, no. No, no.” Jackie reacted as if she had been attacked. “It’s so awful. No.”
I continued my crash into the reef of self-destruction. “I didn’t even mean to say that,” I said. “I just . . .”
“No, Carly, NO.” She slumped backward into her seat.
That was the end of the conversation about anything and everything “JFK.” I was dead. I couldn’t live past this moment. Rewind! Oh, please, rewind!
“No, Carly, no. No, no” – and acting like she’d been attacked. And Carly REALIZING that she’d committed the ultimate sin, making Jackie uncomfortable. Angry, even.
I started to cry, and I was fortunate to be able to hide it behind the opening music of “Bugsy,” which had just started up. I sat there motionless, shocked silly. “I’m so sorry, Jackie,” I whispered.
From my diary on that day: “What sort of brain derangement sent such a signal to my wayward tongue?”
I could hardly concentrate on “Bugsy.” All the while I was thinking, I have to be so careful—she is so much more fragile than we all think. Every time a shot sounded on the screen—and the film was plenty violent—she reacted physically, dramatically, her body mimicking the victim’s. All I wanted to do was protect her, put my arms around her.
Read the entire story here.