"Avery, I'm going to need for you to transcribe a great deal for me in the coming days," my boss and mentor Arthur Schlesinger said to me, somewhat tentatively, 15 years ago today. "It is of the utmost importance that these conversations remain confidential."
That was nothing new. I had transcribed conversations in which former world leaders had admitted extramarital affairs, and questioned their decisions to enter into war. Presidents had confessed to less-than-legal campaign tactics, and First Ladies had admitted drug use. I'd heard it all, and I kept it to myself. I always did, and I always would. I always will. Arthur knew that. What was new and unexpected was the unflappable Professor Schlesinger's hesitation to broach the subject with me, whatever the subject was.
What the subject was, as you know if you have read Abby's story, was the shared history of John Kennedy Jr. and Abigail Phelps. But none of that's really true, say those of you who haven't read the story, or who choose not to believe it. I know that Abby blogs as if it were all true - George Clooney, Bolero, and Mr. Darcy. Well, no - of course none of that is true. And she blogs as if the entire world has read Abigail Phelps, Scenes From Highland Falls, and Two Thousand Years. To hear her tell it, she has sold more copies and caused more of a riot than E L James on her sauciest day. I know that's not the case. I know that quite a few of you have read her story, but not to the extent she believes. And that's probably for the best. Her history, as she wrote it, is confusing. Alec and I tried to clear things up a bit, but that was difficult, since we didn't really know the whole story ourselves for quite some time.
On November 22, 1998, I was allowed into a secret world. It was a world in which I had no desire to be. At least not with her. I was in love with John from day one, and I hated her just as quickly. (To read about my first encounters with each of them, click HERE.) When they decided to go on the record with their true history, and I heard, for the very first time, about a day in Hyannis Port in 1982, and an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, I was as skeptical as most of you. It couldn't be true. If it were true, we would have heard about it. They couldn't have possibly kept those things a secret. Of course, what I couldn't begin to fathom then was the fact that those monstrous secrets were just the tip of the iceberg.
None of this is really what I intended to write about today. I intended to honor my good friend John's father, President Kennedy, on this, the 50th anniversary of his assassination. I worked for Arthur Schlesinger, who had worked in the Kennedy White House. It probably goes without saying that I have a great respect for JFK and his legacy. And I feel somewhat cheated that now, rather than honor that legacy, on this day I can't disassociate from Abby Phelps. That's not how it's supposed to be.
None of it is how it's supposed to be.