Dear Mr. Cary Grant,
You. Yes, you, my sleek-haired, tweedy idol. You know how I've always loved you beyond the grave. NO! Not in an icky way--stop doing that adorable, wide-eyed double-take in alarm--in a worshipping-your-memory way. You, sir, are the hottest fellow no longer alive. What is there not to love about you? You were suave, debonair, witty, and you could do double takes and pratfalls like no other similarly sophisticated man about town. Your movies! Ah! Your movies! And, y'know, just you:
Anyhoo, I'm just dropping a note to let you know that you've got to move over and share my unwavering devotion with him:
Yes, him--no, not Kennedy although he's just dandy, the other guy:Cary, that is Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, and while I didn't think about him very much until last week when his death was announced, I frickin' worship the man. Here, let me take you back to the day when I first fell in love with Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island (and didn't even know him).
THE SCENE: A FINANCIAL AID OFFICE AT A COLLEGE, LONG AGO AND FAR, FAR AWAY
THE PLAYERS: A FINANCIAL AID COUNSELOR AND SPARKLE, WHO IS PAYING AND WORKING HER OWN WAY THROUGH SCHOOL. SPARKLE LOOKS VERY PALE.
Financial Aid Counselor: "So, you can take out these loans, and this is when you'll need to pay it all back by."
Sparkle (thinks to self "That year is incredibly far away and that there is a huge wagonload of money to owe."): "Okay."
Financial Aid Counselor (starts throwing forms and pens around wildly, trusses Sparkle up in red tape like a Thanksgiving turkey)
Sparkle: "And I sign here and here? And you need some blood, too? How much blood? Should I eat some crackers or something first?"
Financial Aid Counselor: "MWAH HA HA HA HA!"
And then...amidst all of the getting-myself-into-debt carnage, this happened.
Financial Aid Counselor: "OH!"
Sparkle: "What what?"
Financial Aid Counselor: "You are very much eligible for a Pell grant."
Sparkle: "Swell. Where do I sign, and which organ would you like this time?"
Financial Aid Counselor: "You need not pay the Pell grant back. It's a grant."
Sparkle: "You want my child? I need to hit the streets? What's the catch?"
Financial Aid Counselor: "No, no, no, no. You will just get that money."
CARY! I DID "just get that money" and I did NOT need to pay the Pell grants back!!! You, as a once-impoverished former street performer, will appreciate this. And, I had no idea that Pell grants were named for a real person. Shame on me. But, let's focus now: Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island is now tied with you as the hottest fellow no longer alive. Like you, he was quiet, thoughtful, and polite to a fault. And like you, he was a bit quirky: He liked to jog in a tweed coat and he was fascinated with UFOs and extra sensory perception. And, for the serious stuff, he is "best remembered for his devotion to education, maritime, and foreign affairs issues." Maritime and foreign affairs! There's something you-ish about that--Father Goose, An Affair to Remember...
Ooh! Sorry, I got a little dreamy-eyed there. Point is: I'm kicking myself for failing to write Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island a thank you letter while he was still alive. I should have. I'm hoping that some of the other 54 million people he helped go to college did, but if not I hope he knew what a huge difference it made to us--or at least to me.