Anatomy of a Column
eggy Noonan decided to meditate, and assumed the Lotus position. Perhaps she could contact the other side if she just concentrated, she thought. On her yoga mat, she began chanting, “Rummmmmm, Rummmmm, Rummmm” which only made her thirsty, so she took a long pull on her Mai Tai. And then it dawned on her that there was someone she could contact who could contact Ronald Wilson Reagan, the greatest president of the last half of the last century, maybe the greatest president of them all.
She picked up the hand piece from the Princess phone she kept in her boudoir. An anachronism, certainly, but a comfortable one. She had heard this was the model that Martha Mitchell had used so many years ago, and it felt natural and safe in her hand.
The dial tone gave way to a distant ringing and a groggy voice answered. “Hello, Joan, this is Peggy Noonan. Am I calling at a bad time?”
“No one named Joan lives here, lady, and it’s 4 AM.” Peggy heard another voice asking if it was the drunk calling again. “Lady, don’t call again. I’ll report you to the police.”
“I’m looking for Joan Quigley. Is this 415-555-1212?” Noonan was trying to not sound as desperate as she felt.
“That’s this number, but no Quigley, Joan or otherwise lives here.” The click as the phone rang-off was definitive. Noonan took a thoughtful sip of Mai Tai. She needed to find a way to contact the other side, she needed to know if her nemesis Nancy was reunited with Ronnie.
Noonan turned to the cardboard cut-out of Reagan that she usually kept over the wet bar in the Penthouse, but lately had been in her bedroom. Just seeing his crooked smile and twinkling eyes lessened the constriction across her chest and she started breathing normally.
“Dutch,” she whispered, “Nancy told me that you still visited her. I thought I was the only one. Noonan recalled with horror,
“One day at dusk in November 2013 we were talking quietly as I held her hand at her bedside. She began to talk about Ronnie and how even now he was ever-present to her. Then: “I didn’t believe in the afterlife. I never believed in it, but things have happened since Ronnie died. He visits me.”
Ronnie seemed to grin just a little more as Noonan filled her Mai Tai to the rim, as she recalled Nancy saying,
“I don’t know if it is dreams or what. It sounds funny or crazy, sometimes I wake up at night and he’s in bed next to me and I see him.”
Noonan turned to the cutout, “Nancy was just trying to get to me, wasn’t she when she told me:
Once, she said, she woke in the middle of the night and looked over at the big beige stuffed chair at the bottom of the bed to the left. “You look cold,” she said to him, and went to the closet for a blanket. She draped it over him and went back to bed. The next morning she awoke and looked over at the chair. The blanket, she said, was still there, but moved to the side as if someone had pushed it when he left.
Noonan was starring at the floor, when the jarring shriek of Nancy Reagan filled her head, “Hey Nooner, have you tried calling Oda Mae Brown?” The cackling was unbearable as Noonan polished off the Mai Tai and turned in for the day.
Farewell to Nancy Reagan, a Friend and Patriot, By Peggy Noonan.
(New Readers: The Further Adventures of Peggy Noonan is a sometimes feature (of the past 10 years!) where we parody the much-quoted Reagan hagiographer Peggy Noonan to try to understand the genesis of her Declarations column in the WSJ. We do not know if Noonan really has a Princess phone, but to paraphrase the Great Writer herself, “Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.” – Bacardi Lifetime Achievement Winner, Peggy Noonan, Wall St. Journal, April 2000.)