Quiet Crowd by Patrick Watson plays.
“Lem was poor and Jack was rich.” says a male, white historian. “Lem was Episcopalian and Jack was Catholic.” We’ll call this man Edward-of-Gen-X.
“Aww. Lem’s a poor, handsome Episcopalian. And Jack is a rich, new money, handsome Irish Catholic! A LOVE STORY!” swoon millions.
“Well…hold on!” says a rich, dead Republican, white, old money white American man. “They met at Choate!” We’ll call this man Frank.
“He was there on scholarship. But his family was certainly not…poor.” says Frank.
“Yes, I think that’s a bit of a misrepresentation of the story.” says another dead, white, Republican woman. We’ll call her Eileen.
“Well okay! But Lem was poor! …His mother was poor! They were on scholarship.” says Edward-of-Gen-X.
“Oh shut-up! You understand almost nothing!” says Frank to Edward-of-Gen-X.
“No, he’s right. It’s not really fair to categorize Lem’s family as poor. They were Episcopalian old money. But…Frank, in Edward’s defense, the point of pointing out Lem’s family’s temporary poverty when Jack met him was to make Lem an accessible, relatable character. Because the Kennedy’s are too rich and overwhelming to relate to.” says a white, male middle-class, well-educated American historian. We’ll call him Bob McNeill.
“And yet it’s also class warfare.” says Frank. “Because it says: Hey! If you can find an old-money man who’s down on his luck you can use his connections and social capital to advance yourself.”
“And if he’s been molested and is very psychologically unstable and vulnerable because he lost his father unexpectedly and they lost their fortune in 1929 in spectacular fashion…and he’s considering being homosexual out of real ignorance since it’s the early 1930’s…even though he’s a heterosexual man…” starts Eileen. “And if your name is Jack and you’re in a new money…authoritarian…Irish Catholic family…where you’re forced to be closeted even though you’re at least bisexual…you can hoodwink and coerce and ultimately bully poor Episcopalian-new-poor-hot-boy into believing he’s in love with you. Because he’s tender hearted and genuinely confused and, again, vulnerable.”
Frank laughs. “You’re an idiot!” He scoffs at Bob McNeill who went to Harvard and writes for the NYT.
“I love the New York Times.” says Lacey.
Bob McNeill smiles at Lacey. Has an insane instinct to run and hide in her arms. Let her hold him (and protect him) while he sucks his thumb and listens closely.
“Are we at war? Or do I represent people or an element you despise?” asks Bob McNeill of Frank.
“You know…maybe you have good intentions.” Mark Nesheim says to Bob McNeill on behalf of Frank.
“Shit!” says a female Columbia professor who realizes Lacey’s family who raised her is probably actually old money too. The They still struggle with this seeming reality. “But it’s fundamentally necessary to consider when you’re processing what’s happening. Also, stop pretending you’re old money to Lacey. That’s like lighting a match in August in California. At least at this point. After what’s happened.”
“But we can’t stand that Lem was raped and they’ve essentially made a Lifetime movie out of it totally exonerating the rapist.” says Mark Nesheim. “And what’s more repulsive is that it-“ he can hardly finish his sentence he’s so overwhelmed. “Jack is the hope of the middle-class.” he says in grief. “It’s playing with fire.” He shakes his head in disbelief. “It’s sick!”
“Gee thanks, Mr. Blue!” says the Columbia professor. “If you hadn’t started talking to her we wouldn’t be here.”
“Or was I a sacrifice? Was Lacey an intended sacrifice that went wrong? Because the Bush family thought they weren’t just the Kennedy’s.” says Mark. “There’s a difference between scum and old money. And maybe birds of a feather? Maybe…it wasn’t tacky and déclassé to not be in the Illuminati? Maybe we’re far more legitimate than they are if they’re just pals with cheap, criminal Irish street trash?”
“So sacrificing me was retarded. A wet fart in your dance!? Like, ‘Oops the Olympic skater just pooped on the ice because she’s a fake top-athlete?’” asks a dead Craft. “You’re imbecilic frauds if I was a sacrifice.”
“And Hack Kennedy was our way in?” says the Columbia professor.
“Yeah! …Isn’t that tragic?!” says Mark Nesheim.
“It’s true. We can’t stand it. It’s…repulsive. Whatever this is. …It’s tragic that a historical man who is essential to maintaining the American middle-class is exonerated for being a rapist when it’s totally unnecessary to even discuss his sex life.” says Frank. “Or if it isn’t…why? Why do we need to talk about it?! Does he bother us for a reason? Do we intuitively know something is off?” Frank thinks. “And if so…we should have dissected him with kit gloves. Not so carelessly.”
“People are complex. Symbolism is complex. He needed to be allowed to be a hopeful symbol for the American middle-class. So…allowing him to be considered truly unwell psychologically…even while being born into a family that climbed great heights socio-economically…might have been far more reasonable.”
“Yeah. Why couldn’t the American middle-class allow that? …We have historical icons like that in our ranks. We always have. Don’t tell me that mental illness awareness is a de thing!” says Frank. “I think it’s the middle-class that still needs a false narrative about Jack Kennedy.”