It’s always bittersweet when good things to come to an end. So it was with “Downtown Abbey”…and, mercifully, Julian Fellowes didn’t kill anybody off at the last minute. (Oops! I should have said, “Spoiler Alert!” But, then, what kind of “Downtown Abbey” fanatic are you if you haven’t seen the finale yet?)
Of course, we’ll miss all of the characters, but most especially the Dowager Countess of Grantham. There are just too few good role models for ladies of a certain age. (And, will someone please tell me why we call it a certain age when it would be so much more accurate to call it an “uncertain” age?) Dame Maggie Smith gave us an enduring gift with her performance.
Sadly, former First Lady Nancy Reagan died last weekend as well. Say what you will (and I’m not going to relitigate her husband’s policies), Nancy always looked good. My mother was not a fan of her husband, but I remember how glad she was that it was Nancy—not Rosalynn Carter—who represented the United States at the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. Mother knew Nancy would represent the country well, and she did—in Galanos. Mother never really got over Mrs. Carter wearing the same gown for the inaugural balls in 1977 that she had worn to her husband’s inaugural ball as governor in 1971. As Mother said, “If your husband being inaugurated president of the United States is not the occasion for a new dress, I don’t know what is.” Indeed, Mother, indeed.
But there’s one other person I’d like to say farewell to this week (even if she’s still around), and it’s been a long time coming. I need to get this down before I have a cocktail as I have promised myself that I’ll never write or talk about Caitlyn Jenner after imbibing. OK, what I mean by talk is—not in front of a camera. Buy me a couple of martinis, and I’ll tell you what I really think of Ms. Jenner in general and her support for Ted Cruz in particular. For this column, I’ll repeat what Ms. Jenner said about Secretary Clinton. “She couldn’t care less about women, she only cares about herself.” Well, dearie, since you support Senator Cruz, I would only change your quote to add the word “transgendered” in front of “women” before throwing it right back at you. (For non- Southerners, “dearie” is a code word; it actually means something a whole lot less than dear.)
I guess it’s true—I’m just a sucker for overprivileged ladies. They may be real or imaginary, beautiful or merely stylish. They may reside in dower houses on fictional estates in Yorkshire or live for real in the White House. Some of them marry former kings of England; some of them marry into the American aristocracy (and yes, there is such a thing.) Sometimes they are played on television and in movies by Oscar-winning actresses; sometimes they can only be seen in old newsreel footage. We never really know them—partly because they’re NEVER in a reality series.
So, Caitlyn, sweetie (same code as above), I’d say you have the overprivileged part down pat. But, you’ve got a lot of work to do on the “lady” part. And “when you talk like that, I’m tempted to ring for Nanny and have you put to bed with no supper.” See, we’ve learned so much from the Dowager Countess.