Speaking of never forgetting (see Yep. I Still Remember.), I actually did forget something in my post about starting and finishing The Stepford Wives: why I was even reading it to begin with.
Short answer: the podcast called You’re Wrong About, hosted by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes.
Answer with more concrete detail: the August 24, 2020, episode of the You’re Wrong About podcast, hosted by Sarah Marshall and Michael Hobbes. The episode was called, simply, “The Stepford Wives.”
After listening to Marshall and Hobbes discuss and deconstruct and ponder Ira Levin’s 1971 novel (and maybe the movie, too, but now, because it wasn’t a national tragedy that still causes ripples through the fabric of our society to this very day, I can’t remember), I got a little curious. That curiosity led me to download a sample of the book, and, because of Ira Levin’s strengths as a novelist, I simply had to download the entire book once I came to the end of the sample.
And the rest is laid out in the aforementioned blog post.
Note: Marshall and Hobbes kind of sounds like a pair of ever-feuding 19th Century New England Senators who would reach across the aisle every now and then to team up when the interests of the ruling class were being threatened by angry mobs of poor people.
So. Yeah. Great podcast, great take on a great book. Really, really great!
I liked the Stepford Wives episode so much that I started scrolling through the list of other episodes of You’re Wrong About. While scrolling, I passed up “Princess Diana Part 1” and “…Part 2,” before noticing there were FIVE PARTS to this examination of Princess Diana.
Much as I wanted to, I just couldn’t bring myself to listen at first.
As I’ve written before, the death of Princess Diana was my JFK Assassination, the public tragedy that really did my head in back in the late 90s. From the first photo of her I ever saw in the National Enquirer to hearing the news about her death to, honestly this very moment, I have always been a huge Princess Diana fan.
So I listened to other podcasts, podcasts with other hosts, podcasts that didn’t upset me or make me sad.
When I felt strong enough, I started listening to “Princess Diana Part 1: The Courtship.”
A couple of days later I listened to “…Part 2: The Wedding.” Less than a week later, I binged the other three episodes.
Ever since then, I’ve found myself descending into wet-eyed, ugly sadness over Princess Diana now and then. Sometimes the reason is obvious—maybe seeing a really recent magazine with her on the cover, as she would have turned 60 in July of this year. Or maybe because I’ve read an old article about her, which I did after listening to the podcast, of course.
But I’ve also started crying just because I noticed a fleeting image of Prince Harry on TV while walking through the sitting area at work. Or because I got a song off an old Depeche Mode album that alludes to Princess Di stuck in my head for no reason at all.
Is it true grief over Princess Diana? Is it displaced grief emerging years after the deaths of many people I loved to whom I didn’t get to say a final goodbye? Is it menopause? It totally could be menopause. I mean, menopause has made me cry over dumber, less significant incidents than the death of Princess Diana.
It could be a combination of all these things, an unfortunate blend of regret and rage and love with nowhere to go that was triggered into this alchemical swirl by that stupid, very good, amazingly thorough podcast.
Then again, maybe it’s looking back at a famous beauty, the most photographed woman in the world, dead at age 36. Perhaps it’s thinking about a beloved sister and mother who might have finally found the happiness that eluded her most of her life before she succumbed to the ultimate tragedy.
But maybe it’s just feeling the sorrow of endless absence for the person who once said this:
I think…people need someone in public life to give affection, to make them feel important, to support them, to give them light in their dark tunnels. I’m not a political animal but I think the biggest disease this world suffers from in this day and age is the disease of people feeling unloved, and I know that I can give love for a minute, for half an hour, for a day, for a month, but I can give—I’m very happy to do that, and I want to do that.