Although it’s not yet noon, Mimi Alford has already been interrogated by one interviewer after another in a packed schedule of media appearances that started before dawn—and yet she gets more buoyant with every passing hour.
After half a century of silence, the 68-year-old woman who says she had a clandestine affair with President John F. Kennedy when she was a 19-year-old White House intern has finally told her story in a new memoir called Once Upon a Secret. She’s supposed to be weeping for the cameras and prostrating herself by now—but instead of seeming teary and abject, Alford looks as though she’s been unexpectedly ambushed by something strangely akin to joy. And no one is more surprised than she is.
“I feel as if I’m getting taller,” she marvels, gesturing toward the ceiling as though she were a helium balloon that’s expanding and tugging skyward. “I feel—bolstered up. This second step of talking, after the writing—it’s liberating. I have this feeling inside that I’ve just been freed from something. I’m being honest, and that’s why I feel good. Talking about it is really helping me; it’s making me feel whole. I feel like I was a puzzle, and there was a piece missing—and it’s put together now.”