Monday, August 08, 2005

It was 1999 and we were all piled in Tree's office with the big glass windows at CNN in Atlanta. The door had been shut as we five "girls" in our late 30's and early 40's were having an important secret meeting. We always looked both ways down the hall to make sure no one was coming before doing this.

Tree, ceremoniously, withdrew the glossy 8 X 10 from the envelope to display. We all gasped and held our breaths. There he was, in his tweed jacket and impeccably tailored trousers, lounging in the doorway of his book-lined office. His long lines, graceful, and his weathered face in a world weary half-smile. His little reporter's notebook just peeking out of a pocket. You could almost imagine the smell of tobacco and scotch that surely must have infused that amazing tweed jacket and scented his long-fingered hands. We all swooned.

For women working in broadcast news, Peter Jennings was a rock star. There was something about his particular mix of extraordinary competence, stellar journalistic abilities, sardonic wit and easy confidence that just made one go all gushy inside. It wasn't about looks, though Jennings was very easy on the eye. Anchors have to be goodlooking, but they don't have to be smart or particularly talented in journalism. It was about presence, power and ability.

Like a the bumbling teenage nerd, I once was...I just kept saying, "She's gonna freak, man! She's gonna freak!"

I was speaking of the inscription on the photo. Tree had pulled some strings and gotten the photo personally autographed, "To Joan and Katy, Many happy regards, Peter Jennings."

Joan was our friend over at Turner Entertainment who had a huge Peter Jennings crush. Katy was her miniature French Poodle. Joan's birthday was coming up and she really was the gal who had everything. At least everything she needed. Tree really had done something special by pulling this particular rabbit out of the hat. That she had gotten the French Poodle included on the inscription was nothing short of inspired.

All of us had to trail our fingers over his signature, trying to sense whatever essence he might have left behind.

Jodi said, "I bet he has stacks of these photos that he sends out to women."

"Yeah." We agreed.

Today, I'm sobbing into my kitchen sink as I'm loading the dishwasher. Large, tearful, heart-wrenching sobs of mourning. I'll always remember exactly what I was doing, the moment I heard that Peter Jennings had died.

1 Comment:

  1. Anonymous said...
    beautiful story, rosie

    as they say, "i laughed, i cried..." -- all that stuff

    thanks for sharin

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