Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Not Having It, At All

So, Helen Gurley Brown is dead at age 90. I'm torn about acknowledging it because all the other people I've eulogized on Watering Place were personally important influences. I've always been aware of Helen Gurley Brown, and I have read a few Cosmopolitans in my time, but I'm definitely not a fan and her heyday was arguably past before I hit anything like maturity. My husband is horrified by Michael Bloomberg's laudatory comment on her passing, and I tend to agree that she did more harm than good.

I had thought that my mother read Having It All when it came out in 1982 (and that seemed odd), but then I found this New York Magazine article which contains the particular piece of information that I remember my mother mentioning repeatedly: that David Brown was allowed to lunch with other women as much as he liked, but never at 21 because that was HGB's turf. As I remembered it, David Brown was actually allowed to have affairs but couldn't parade them at 21--the way it's described in the magazine is more innocent and I may just be remembering wrong. Speaking of innocence, in the same article HGB predicts that herpes--herpes--will drive everyone to be faithful.

So that's my salient memory of Helen Gurley Brown. I'm intrigued by the title of that book, since "having it all" has now morphed to include having children, as in the Anne-Marie Slaughter Atlantic piece I already referenced but will probably never organize my thoughts sufficiently to write about.

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